The World Health Assembly (resolution 58.23 on 'Disability, including prevention, management and rehabilitation') requested the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General to produce a World report on disability based on the best available scientific evidence. The WHO and the World Bank Group have jointly produced this first ever World report on disability to provide evidence for innovative policies and programmes that can improve the lives of people with disabilities, and facilitate implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The report focuses on measures to improve accessibility and equality of opportunity; promoting participation and inclusion; and increasing respect for the autonomy and dignity of persons with disabilities. The report is directed at policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, academics, development agencies, and civil society and makes recommendations for action at the local, national and international level. Chapter 7 discusses education.
The 2013 edition of The state of the world’s children is dedicated to the situation of children with disabilities. The report examines the barriers – from inaccessible buildings to dismissive attitudes, from invisibility in official statistics to vicious discrimination – that deprive children with disabilities of their rights and keep them from participating fully in society. It also lays out some of the key elements of inclusive societies that respect and protect the rights of children with disabilities, adequately support them and their families, and nurture their abilities – so that they may take advantage of opportunities to flourish and make their contribution to the world. Chapter 3 includes a section specifically on inclusive education (pages 27 to 36).
This report was prepared pursuant to Human Rights Council resolution 32/20. It underlines the multiple and intersecting obstacles that limit effective and equal access of girls to education and highlights good practices to address those barriers. It also contains recommendations on appropriate measures to ensure the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl and, in that context, eliminate all gender disparities in education by 2030, in fulfilment of the commitment made in Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Commercialisation is creeping into our public school system. A new report, Commercialisation in Public Schooling, reveals teachers are concerned about the influence commercialisation is having in schools; on everything from the provision of tests like NAPLAN, through to private providers offering classes in PE, Music, Drama and even professional development courses for teachers.
The report reveals schools are now forced to buy-in a substantial volume of educational products and services that were once provided by education departments.
- Lesson plans
- Reading programmes
- Curriculum content
- Assessment services
- Remedial instruction
- Online learning programmes
- Student data packages
- NAPLAN and exam preparation materials
- Professional development for staff
- School administration support
And, with public education and school budgets constantly under pressure, some schools are looking to pass on the costs for these commercial services to parents wherever they can.
Globally, the provision of education services is a massive business; worth an estimated $4.3 trillion annually.
The Commercialisation in Public Schooling report was commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation and conducted by Professor Bob Lingard of the University of Queensland’s School of Education and a team which included Dr Sam Sellar (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Anna Hogan (University of Queensland) and Associate Professor Greg Thompson (Queensland University of Technology).
NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the report sounded a warning for parents, teachers, governments and education administrators.
This publication identifies trends in the practice and contribution of UN human rights mechanisms to the protection of education in times of insecurity and armed conflict and offers recommendations on how such protection might be strengthened.
On 19 September 2008, the Committee on the Rights of the Child devoted its Day of General Discussion to: “The Right of the Child to Education in Emergency Situations” (CRC articles 28 and 29). The report includes a background, a summary of the discussions and recommendations.
Gender equality and inequality concern how people live their daily lives, their relationships, choices, decisions and the freedom they do or do not have to live a life they value. Gender equality is a matter of social justice and human rights. It drives development progress. It is vital for achieving peaceful, inclusive, resilient and just societies.
The concept of equality between women and men was articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, then reinforced in international agreements including the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Progress has been made, yet substantive gender equality remains elusive.
At the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, the international community adopted a new global development agenda, Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity that seeks to realise the human rights of all and achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls (United Nations, 2015a).
Realising substantive and lasting gender equality requires bold, urgent action in the new agenda including recognition of how societies create and reinforce everyday discriminatory norms, stereotypes and practices relating to gender. It also requires understanding one’s own values, the values of one’s community and society, and those of others around the world. Moreover, transformative action is needed to redress complex, deeply embedded inequality.
Education and lifelong learning – broadly defined to include formal, non-formal and informal learning – play a vital role in achieving gender equality. Education can be a locus of gender inequality, where stereotypical behaviour and views are reinforced, or a catalyst of transformation, providing individuals with opportunity and capability to challenge and change discriminatory attitudes and practices. As we move into a new era of international development, framed by progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), links between education and gender equality are clearly recognised, building on acknowledgement since the beginning of the Education for All (EFA) movement that improving girls’ education and ensuring equitable educational opportunities for all girls and boys is necessary for social justice on a global scale.
Education and gender equality are central concerns in the new sustainable development agenda. The Education 2030 Framework for Action, agreed by the global education community in November 2015 to accompany the SDG agenda, recognises that gender equality is inextricably linked to the right to education for all, and that achieving gender equality requires an approach that ‘ensures that girls and boys, women and men not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education’ (UNESCO, 2016a, p. 8). Women, girls, boys and men all need to be given opportunities for active participation in society, for their voices to be heard and their needs met (UN Women, 2016a).
To facilitate and achieve this, better evidence-based knowledge and understanding of gender issues in and through education are needed. The Gender Review of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) recognises and largely focuses on the challenges facing girls and women because of the disproportionate overall disadvantage they continue to experience in and beyond education. But it also understands that gender disadvantage can be experienced by boys and men, and that gender equality involves males, relationships and power. Gender inequality affects us all. Achieving gender equality must involve us all.
Turkey’s Roma population and similar social groups such as Abdal, totalling between two million and five million, have long been one of the country’s most marginalised communities. From hate speech and the threat of targeted violence to extreme poverty and exclusion, they suffer discrimination in almost every area of their lives. This situation has been sustained not only by deep-rooted social prejudice, but also by the indifference and even complicity of authorities to address their second-class status in Turkey. Indeed, until relatively recently there was little official acknowledgement of the profound social and economic inequalities affecting them, let alone a concerted effort to improve their conditions.
The limited availability of studies or concrete data on targeted attacks, inadequate essential public services and other challenges have contributed to the continued invisibility of Roma and other similar groups in public life. This has been accompanied by a steady attrition of their ability to maintain their distinct culture and identity: for example, there has been a drastic decline in the number of people who can speak the traditional languages of the Roma community such as Romani, Lomavren, Domari and Abdoltili, and those languages and dialects are under threat of disappearing. This report, drawing on extensive fieldwork with Roma communities as well as desk-based research, seeks to raise awareness among policy makers, journalists and the general public by highlighting the particular barriers they continue to face in two key areas – housing and education. While Turkey is a signatory to all of the relevant international conventions guaranteeing all citizens equal access to housing and education – protections affirmed in its national legislation and constitutions – in practice legal shortcomings and implementation failures have meant that for many these rights remain out of reach.
Poverty and discrimination from some landlords has meant that the barriers to securing adequate housing are especially high for Roma, resulting in high rates of homelessness or their concentration in settlements with limited public services and insecure tenure. This has led to the persistence of so-called ‘Roma neighbourhoods’ that are largely segregated from surrounding areas and mainstream society. Besides being characterised by limited access to water, sanitation and other needs, these communities are especially vulnerable to forcible displacement to accommodate urban ‘regeneration’ and other projects: as a result, Roma may be forced to migrate repeatedly. These issues are especially acute for certain groups, such as women and refugees, who may be subject to multiple forms of discrimination. Their discrimination is further entrenched by their continued exclusion from education. Despite the right to education being guaranteed for all, in practice a range of social and economic hurdles, from physical isolation and financial constraints to the absence of accessible and culturally appropriate schooling, have left many Roma children isolated – a situation that perpetuates low attendance, poor attainment and the emergence in some areas of almost exclusively Roma schools that reinforce their segregation.
These issues are exacerbated by other forms of discrimination, such as harassment from staff and pupils, and curricula that ignore Roma in their materials. As a result, instead of effectively addressing the drivers of exclusion, Turkey’s education system is perpetuating inequalities by failing to provide Roma with accessible, affordable education. Importantly, there has been some progress in recent years, with the government coming up with a number of policies that officially recognise the challenges these communities experience. Despite the limitations and ambiguities of those policies, they have been embraced by the NGOs established by Roma and similar social groups. However, only time will tell if the current strategies will produce positive results. This report seeks to highlight the current rights gaps and support the development of more inclusive social policies.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into effect on 1 January 2016, after it was adopted unanimously at the United Nations by world Heads of State and Governments in September 2015. With its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets, the Agenda covers a comprehensive set of issues across the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.
In many respects, the 2030 Agenda is a significant improvement from the previous agenda, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were supposed to have been met by 2015. It is universal in applying to all countries, rather than just ‘developing’ countries, and it covers a more comprehensive set of issues, therefore better addressing the complexities of sustainable development and reflecting the whole spectrum of human rights. The 2030 Agenda also has a central focus on combatting inequality, both through stand-alone goals (Goal 5 on gender inequality and Goal 10 on reducing inequality within and among countries) and an overarching pledge to ‘Leave No One Behind’ in implementation. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is recognised as a cross-cutting objective across all the goals (with indicators that are required to be disaggregated by sex), but is also included as a stand-alone goal with specific targets. The Agenda also recognizes the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, as among its foundations.
Whereas the MDG commitments on gender equality were limited to targets on gender parity in education and maternal mortality, SDG 5 includes more comprehensive and potentially transformative commitments for women’s rights, due to the effective mobilization of women’s rights organizations. It includes targets to: eliminate all forms of discrimination, end gender-based violence and child marriage; ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive rights; increase participation in decision-making at all levels; ensure women’s equal rights to economic resources, including ownership and control over land; and to recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work (including through the provision of public services and social protection.) Moreover, there are gender specific targets in other goals, for example, to eliminate gender disparity in education (SDG 4.5); ensure women’s access to adequate sanitation (SDG 6.2); equal pay for work of equal value (SDG 8.5); and safe and affordable transport for women (SDG 11.2). As the inclusion of these issues indicates, the SDGs are therefore far more holistic and rights-aligned on gender equality than the MDGs, despite some weaknesses.
Yet, when dealing with issues of accountability, there is no major improvement over the MDGs. Under the MDGs, there was no clarity as to who was responsible for what, there was no institutional mechanism through which ‘beneficiaries’ could meaningfully engage in shaping or challenging decisions at the domestic level, and there was an inadequate, opaque system to monitor and report on progress. The lack of accountability for the MDGs was considered a primary shortfall. With a view to improving on these shortcomings, civil society organizations and many other actors involved in the discussions regarding the new development agenda made it a priority to push for robust accountability for the SDGs. However, during the political negotiations, there was resistance by many States seeking to systematically water down proposals for accountability. Consequently, the final text of the 2030 Agenda includes only a weak voluntary process of reporting to monitor compliance. In the end, the terms “follow-up and review” were preferred over “accountability”.
The implementation of the SDGs is a long and complex process, and the fear is that without stronger accountability mechanisms, States and other stakeholders might not dedicate sufficient efforts and resources towards their compliance. Moreover, compliance with gender-related goals and targets also requires gender-responsive accountability mechanisms. This means, at a bare minimum, that women should be full participants in any oversight or accountability process and that women’s human rights standards must be those against which public decisions are assessed. Without these mechanisms, governments may well focus their efforts on the achievement of goals and targets which are not aligned with the priorities of national women rights’ and feminist movements, or fall far short of their ambitions.