Commentary explaining the scope and content of the right to education (Article 14) in the EU Charter. Includes detailed sections on the main aspects of Article 14 including: non-discrimination in access to education, right of access to education, possibility of compulsory free education, freedom to found educational establishments and respect of parents' convictions.
This guide to the right to education provisions in the European Social Charter focuses on free primary and secondary education, vocational training and higher education, and the education of children with disabilities.
This case study focuses on two factors that affect displaced children’s ability to exercise their right to education: poverty and discrimination.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in article 24 seeks to combat discrimination of children with disabilities in the field of education by prescribing a model of social inclusion. This paper will critically examine the sociological concept of inclusion, the German experience in implementing article 24 and the limitations of article 24 vis à vis the Right to Education in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Before turning to the situation in Germany it is beneficial to discuss underlying concepts relating to special need education in order to clarify the notion of inclusion. In doing so, contested medical concepts, the perception of education as end rather than means and the voicelessness of the child, all lead to the conclusion that a rights-based approach is advantageous in acquiring social justice. Moreover, looking at the case of Germany and a school system with an exclusion rate of 82% the delay in the public discourse about inclusion is particularly striking. Hence, section 3 will look at empirical data, the UN definition of education and elaborate on the German confusion of inclusion and integration by making reference to domestic law and an exemplary case along with relating the Monitoring Body’s guidelines of availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability to the action plan of North Rhine-Westphalia. Finally, the application of social inclusion maxims to anti-discrimination law demands significant, positive adjustments but is also restricted by its focus on absolute disadvantage. The convention is arguably limited because of its narrow outlook owed to its civil and political nature and inclusive reform might bring broader equality when applied to the a priori Right to Education from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
From humble beginnings in the early 1990s, charter schools have grown explosively to become a pillar in a market-oriented national education reform in the United States. The fiscal fallout from the financial crisis of 2007-08 constricted educational budgets and intensified the public debate around directing resources to all aspects of educational reform, especially charter schools.
The human right to education is well established in a variety of international treaties and covenants, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right establishes the obligation of states to provide all young people with a quality education, as defined by the prevailing social and economic context of each country. Guidance provided by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, focuses attention on the acceptability, availability, adaptability and accessibility of education in every context.
The impact of charter school expansion on the ability of U.S. states to implement the right to education for all children has, to date, been little considered in the national debate around education reform. Given the diversity of the legal foundations of charter schools in the states, it is difficult to carry out such an analysis at the national level.
Despite the fact that its public education system is rated among the most effective in the country, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been the site of large-scale implementation of the charter school model. Prominent educational research institutes have analyzed Massachusetts charters and found them - especially the schools located in Boston - to be among the most successful in the country.
The experience of Massachusetts charter schools undoubtedly includes positive effects on the implementation of the right to education. A significant number of students who had difficulty accessing quality education in traditional public schools have been able to do so in charter schools. Many of those students are from racial or ethnic groups that have faced historic discrimination in U.S. public schools. In addition, charter schools are, by their nature, adaptations of the public education model and, therefore, increase the adaptability of the system.
At the same time, other aspects of the charter school model raise concerns from a human rights perspective, some of them serious concerns. The extreme school discipline models employed by some charters and the increased use of disciplinary exclusion to maintain social order in the schools both raise human rights concerns that go well beyond the right to education. Also, the existence of an “enrollment gap” between charter schools and traditional public schools, especially in relation to the enrollment of Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners is the source of further concern. Finally, the way in which charter schools are financed, in Massachusetts and in most other jurisdictions, gradually degrades the financial capacity of public school districts. This loss of financial capacity often leads to mass school closings or other major disruptions to the system. In districts with high charter density, this process can reach the point where the capacity of the district to provide for even the basic educational needs of all students comes into question.
Massachusetts and other states with relatively high charter density in urban centers should reinforce regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure the accountability of existing charter schools to legal and regulatory frameworks. In addition, legislative bodies considering laws to allow further expansion of charter schools should carefully consider the impacts of charter school growth on the human right to education of all children in their jurisdiction before enabling such expansion.
This compilation of good practices is intended to provide examples of meaningful and promising activities implemented in Council of Europe member states to promote an education free from gender stereotypes and identify new ways to implement the measures comprised in the Committee of Ministers Recommendation on Gender Mainstreaming in Education. The presented initiatives include among others campaigns to inform and motivate girls and women to choose non stereotypical careers, gender equality training programmes for teachers and fnancial assistance provided to families to support girls’ school attendance. Sharing of good practices provides a very useful reference tool for countries in the process of developing new initiatives. This compilation constitutes an important resource for all stakeholders eager to promote equality in education and to combat gender stereotypes in and through education.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU. It was proclaimed in 2000 and was entered into force by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009.
Its provision on the right to education (Article 14) includes the right to equal access to education and vocational training; it protects the right to compulsory education and the freedom to found educational establishments. The EU Charter also protects children’s rights; Article 32 prohibits child labour and states that the minimum age of employment shall be no lower than the age of completion of compulsory education. Furthermore, the EU Charter protects academic freedom (Article 13) and includes a comprehensive non-discrimination clause (Article 21).
This report documents how the the Czech authorities are violating the human rights of Romani children in schools across the country. Romani children in the Czech Republic have for decades suffered systemic discrimination in primary education. Many are placed in so-called practical schools designated for pupils with mild mental disabilities. Those in mainstream schools are often segregated in Roma-only schools and classes or otherwise treated differently. Reports of racial bullying and ostracisation by non-Roma pupils, and even open prejudice by some teachers, are frequent. Amnesty International calls on the Czech government to make an unequivocal commitment and start a reform that would address ethnic prejudice and discrimination head-on.
An update of the decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights from 2007-2010, on the right to education of Roma children.
Turkey’s education system, despite the country’s legal commitments to provide equitable and non-discriminatory education to all, continues to marginalise many minority communities and perpetuate nationalist principles in the classroom. Discrimination based on Colour, Ethnic Origin, Language, Religion and Belief in Turkey’s Education System, a jointly published report by History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı) and Minority Rights Group International, highlights the effects of this exclusionary system on children from minority communities and their ability to secure adequate access to education.
Despite legislation passed in 2012 to support teaching of minority languages, in practice there are many obstacles due to lack of resources and limited political will. Moreover, education in their mother tongue remains out of reach for many communities. This can have lasting impacts on the learning outcomes of minority children. In addition, compulsory religious education in Sunni Islam from grade four means that some minority members, such as Alevis, are obliged to take the course. Though technically Christian and Jewish children can apply to opt out, the procedure for opting out can itself undermine their human rights. Minority communities are also frequently overlooked or misrepresented in educational materials such as textbooks and curricula, meaning that prejudices and stereotypes about their communities are being recreated among the next generation. Finally, disadvantaged communities such as Afro-Turks and Roma often struggle to secure full educational access.
This report presents an overview of the current state of Turkey’s educational system during 2014 to 2015, drawing on fieldwork by Monitoring Discrimination in Education Network, an alliance of 16 organisations working in Turkey. Besides outlining the relevant legal standards and key rights relating to education access, such as language and pluralism, it also presents a detailed overview of key areas of discrimination and ongoing inequalities faced by minority children. It ends with a series of recommendations, including legal reforms, increased resources for mother tongue learning, revised curricula and improved discrimination monitoring, to support the development of a more inclusive and socially just educational system in Turkey.
Also available in Turkish, here.