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UNESCO  and  partners  held  a  side  meeting during  the  Transforming  Education  Pre-Summit,  at  UNESCO  Headquarters entitled ‘Transforming  education:  the  need  to  expand  the  international  legal  framework’.  The  report presents the main issues raised and  suggested  areas requiring  further  protection  in  the  international  legal framework on the right to education. 

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This Right to Education Initiative brief explores ECCE related content from the reports of UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Education published between 1999 and 2021. 

The number of forcibly displaced persons is on the rise worldwide, and they are displaced for increasingly protracted periods. Access to education for refugee children and youth remains a major concern, including at the higher education level. While data on refugee access to higher education remain scarce and incomplete, it is estimated that only 3 per cent of refugees were enrolled in higher education in 2021. This figure stands in contrast to a global gross enrolment ratio (GER)1 in higher education of 38 per cent worldwide in 2018. Against this background, The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has set the 15by30 target, meaning that by 2030 15 per cent of refugees should gain access to higher education. In order to reach this target, the access to host countries’ higher education systems is of particular importance, as 83 per cent of refugee youth who are enrolled in higher education (for whom data are available) are enrolled in their host countries. The present Policy Paper has analysed the empirical literature on the benefits of access to higher education for refugees. It shows that there are considerable direct benefits for refugee youth themselves, and also clear advantages for the host countries’ economies and social development, to which refugees contribute. Access to higher education enhances their motivation to succeed in pre-university education. It offers identity and social position, and access to skills development and economic opportunities, including through entrepreneurship, and therefore greatly enhances their social and economic integration and life chances.

This Policy Paper presents inclusive policies  and good practices from these countries and their HEIs, organized by type of obstacle to access. It concludes by presenting 15 recommendations on how host countries can support refugees’ access to their national systems, arguing strongly for an ‘equality of opportunity approach’ in terms of national policies, and also for caring measures at the level of HEIs. The 15 recommendations are made mainly for national policy-makers and planners, but also for HEIs, who share a combined responsibility and whose actions can mutually reinforce each other.

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Higher education is too often dissociated from the right to education. In many countries tuition fees are on the rise, and only the privileged have access to, or succeed in completing, higher education, making it difficult to argue that there is an actual right to higher education to be enforced. However, international human rights law is clear: the right to education includes the obligation of states to ensure that higher education is made accessible to all based on capacity.

In addition, states have an obligation to progressively introduce free higher education, an obligation which is yet to be implemented globally. Confronted with drastic changes worldwide in terms of rising inequalities, human movement, growing digitalization and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is high time to clarify existing obligations as well as what aspects of the right to higher education might require further explanation considering new contexts and challenges.

This publication aims to help guide policy-makers, civil society and the international education community, to fully enforce the right to higher education and ensure that the human-rights based approach is placed at the heart of the higher education debate.

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Our 2021 Annual Report includes information about our strategy, our team and our supporters, and details activities and key achievements throughout the year. 

Our work would not be possible without the generous support of our donors, to whom we are immensely grateful. 

In the light of human rights standards on the right to education and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the signatory civil society organisations below raise serious concerns about the potential implications of the recently released working paper “Can Education be Standardized? Evidence from Kenya". We urge governments and other actors to recognise the limitations of this study, which some will seek to use to justify the expansion of for-profit private provision of education and scripted teaching methods. There are well established approaches to address the challenges faced by some education systems and we urge all actors to focus on education strategies and policies that have been proven to deliver inclusive, equitable and good quality education, and that contribute to strengthening public education for all.

 

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The Right to Education Initiative's 2020 Annual Report includes information about our strategy, our team and our supporters, and details activities and key achievements throughout the year. 

Our work would not be possible without the generous support of our donors, whose contribution is noted in this report.

A global study of attacks on schools, universities, their students and staff, in 2020 and 2021.

Education is under attack around the world. From Afghanistan to Colombia, Mali to Thailand, students and teachers are killed, raped, and abducted, while schools and universities are bombed, burned down, and used for military purposes.

In 2020 and 2021, there were more than 5,000 reported attacks on education and incidents of military use of schools and universities, harming more than 9,000 students and educators in at least 85 countries. On average, six attacks on education or incidents of military use occurred each day.

In the 28 countries profiled in this report, at least 10 attacks on education occurred over the past 2 years.

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