This report presents information collected in the scope of the Lusophone Network for the Right to Education (ReLus) on the situation of guaranteeing the right to education during the moment of emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is launched as part of the Brazilian Action Week for Education 2021 and intends to present a comparative exploratory study on the challenges faced in the context of different Portuguese-speaking countries and the emergency policies adopted.

Our humanity and planet Earth are under threat. The pandemic has only served to prove our fragility and our interconnectedness. Now urgent action, taken together, is needed to change course and reimagine our futures. This report by the International Commission on the Futures of Education acknowledges the power of education to bring about profound change. We face a dual challenge of making good on the unfulfilled promise to ensure the right to quality education for every child, youth and adult and fully realizing the transformational potential of education as a route for sustainable collective futures. To do this, we need a new social contract for education that can repair injustices while transforming the future.

This new social contract must be grounded in human rights and based on principles of non-discrimination, social justice, respect for life, human dignity and cultural diversity. It must encompass an ethic of care, reciprocity, and solidarity. It must strengthen education as a public endeavour and a common good.

This report, two years in the making and informed by a global consultation process engaging around one million people, invites governments, institutions, organizations and citizens around the world to forge a new social contract for education that will help us build peaceful, just, and sustainable futures for all.

The visions, principles, and proposals presented here are merely a starting point. Translating and contextualizing them is a collective effort. Many bright spots already exist. This report attempts to capture and build on them. It is neither a manual nor a blueprint but the opening up of a vital conversation.



The efficient design and delivery of early childhood policies and services are critical to ensuring long-term learning opportunities and improved learning, behaviour, employment, and health outcomes amongst individuals. Research in neuroscience, developmental psychology and cognitive science has revealed that quality early childhood education, supportive communities and a positive family environment serve as important building blocks to promote healthy development amongst infants and toddlers.

The World Health Organization identified the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and by February 2021, two-thirds of LMICs were reported to have reduced their public education budgets (Education Finance Watch Report, 2021). Although many challenges to achieving full access to quality early childhood services existed before the pandemic, this finding dramatically reveals how the pandemic threatens to erode hard won gains already achieved for children and families, and could continue to have exceedingly negative impacts on child development, early learning, family well-being and all types of early childhood services.

The Global Partnership Strategy (GPS) for Early Childhood was created to counter this negative trend in education and to overcome the reduction and closure of services for health, nutrition, sanitation, and child protection in all world regions. Well designed and implemented policies and services for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Early Childhood Development (ECD) enable all countries to protect and guarantee child rights, achieve high rates of return on their investments in child and family development and widen avenues for transforming societies and lives. 

Around the world, higher education communities are overwhelmed by frequent attacks on scholars, students, staff, and their institutions. State and non-state actors, including armed militant and extremist groups, police and military forces, government authorities, off-campus groups, and even members of higher education communities, among others, carry out these attacks, which often result in deaths, injuries, and deprivations of liberty. Beyond their harm to the individuals and institutions directly targeted, these attacks undermine entire higher education systems, by impairing the quality of teaching, research, and discourse on campus and constricting society’s space to think, question, and share ideas. Ultimately, they impact all of us, by damaging higher education’s unique capacity to drive the social, political, cultural, and economic development from which we all benefit.

Through its Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, Scholars at Risk (SAR) responds to these attacks by identifying and tracking key incidents, with the aim of protecting vulnerable individuals, raising awareness, encouraging accountability, and promoting dialogue and understanding that can help prevent future threats. Since 2015, SAR has been publishing Free to Think, a series of annual reports analyzing attacks on higher education communities around the world.

Free to Think 2021 documents 332 attacks on higher education communities in 65 countries and territories. This year was marked by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed more than five million lives. For higher education, the pandemic continued to disrupt academic activity, keeping many institutions in remote states of operation and suspending most academic travel. For scholars and students, the pandemic also continued to raise questions, concerns, and criticisms about state responses to public health crises, government accountability, and societal inequities. Scholars and students took on these issues in the classroom and more public venues, in-person and online, asserting their academic freedom and their rights to freedoms of expression and assembly. They also responded to acute and more long-standing political conflicts, from Myanmar’s coup to the steady erosion of human rights in Turkey, demanding civilian led government and the protection of fundamental freedoms. Frequently, however, individuals and groups opposed to their questions and ideas sought to silence them.

This brief will primarily be used by Just Fair and other NGOs across the UK to inform their approach to the seventh periodic review of the UK by the CESCR. The first part analyses the concerns repeatedly raised in the UK’s six Concluding Observations from 1980 to 2016 on its implementation of ICESCR’s substantive rights. Secondly, based on a systematic keyword search of three different databases – Ebsco Discovery, UK Westlaw and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) – potentially relevant concerns since 2016 are identified and analysed for each of the substantive rights with a view to the UK’s seventh periodic review. In each of these sections, particular attention is given to funding, Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and nondiscrimination, when relevant.

Key resource

Is French Higher Education truly accessible to all, without any discrimination? What are the impacts of the privatization of Higher Education on the right to equal access to Higher Education and quality education for all?

Focusing on the impacts of inequalities based on place of residence, indirect study costs and privatization on the implementation of the right to Higher Education in France, this document illustrates the challenges related to the realization of the right to higher education. Overcoming these hurdles for a country like France could, a priori, be held up as an example to others.  Lastly, this report highlights France’s legally binding obligations and potential infringements, especially with regard to its role in financing the Higher Education system.



Dans le présent rapport, le Rapporteur spécial sur les droits de l’homme et l’extrême pauvreté, Olivier De Schutter, constate que les enfants nés dans des familles défavorisées ne peuvent prétendre à l’égalité des chances : les perspectives qu’ils ont de jouir d’un niveau de vie décent à l’âge adulte sont en effet considérablement réduites du simple fait que leurs parents sont pauvres.

Le Rapporteur spécial examine les mécanismes qui perpétuent la pauvreté dans les domaines de la santé, du logement, de l’éducation et de l’emploi. La montée des inégalités est en soi un facteur déterminant : plus les sociétés sont inégales, moins elles permettent la mobilité sociale, et la répartition inégale des richesses a un effet particulièrement dévastateur à cet égard. Nous pouvons parfaitement mettre fin au cercle vicieux de la pauvreté. La solution, pour ce faire, passe par des investissements dans les secteurs de l’éducation et de la protection de la petite enfance, ainsi que dans l’éducation inclusive, par l’instauration d’un revenu minimum universel pour les jeunes combinée à une hausse des droits de succession, et par l’interdiction de la discrimination fondée sur les désavantages socio-économiques.

Les personnes en situation de pauvreté font face à une discrimination généralisée dans des sociétés où la ségrégation par la richesse reste très marquée ; aussi des mesures de nature systémique s’imposent-elles pour surmonter les divisions héritées du passé.



En el presente informe, el Relator Especial sobre la extrema pobreza y los derechos humanos, Olivier De Schutter, observa que a los niños nacidos en familias desfavorecidas se les niega la igualdad de oportunidades: sus posibilidades de alcanzar un nivel de vida decente en la edad adulta disminuyen considerablemente por el mero hecho de que sus padres sean pobres. El Relator Especial examina los canales a través de los cuales se perpetúa la pobreza, en los ámbitos de la salud, la vivienda, la educación y el empleo.

El propio aumento de las desigualdades es un factor importante: cuanto más desiguales son las sociedades, menos permiten la movilidad social, y las desigualdades de riq ueza son especialmente corrosivas en ese sentido. Acabar con los círculos viciosos de la pobreza está a nuestro alcance. Las inversiones en educación y atención a la primera infancia, la educación inclusiva, la provisión de una renta básica universal para los jóvenes, combinada con una mayor fiscalidad de las herencias, y la prohibición de la discriminación por motivos de desventaja socioeconómica son fundamentales para romper los ciclos que perpetúan la pobreza. Las personas en situación de pobreza se enfrentan a una discriminación sistémica en sociedades que siguen estando profundamente segregadas por la riqueza: esto exige remedios sistémicos para superar las divisiones heredadas.



This report, presented to the 76th session of the General Assembly in October 2021, examines the channels through which poverty is perpetuated, in the areas of health, housing, education and employment. The growth of inequalities itself is an important contributing factor: the more unequal societies are, the less they allow for social mobility. The report argues that ending the vicious cycles of poverty is within reach. Investments in early childhood education and care, inclusive education, the provision of a universal basic income for young people combined with an increased taxation of inheritance, and the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of socioeconomic disadvantage are key to breaking the cycles that perpetuate poverty. People in poverty face systemic discrimination in societies that remain deeply segregated by wealth: this calls for systemic remedies to overcome inherited divisions.

It features sections on the right to education in relation to poverty, including the right to early childhood care and education, and higher education.