Local governments in Nepal are in the process of developing legislation on education following the implementation of the Constitution which delegates responsibility for providing free and compulsory basic education, and free secondary education to local authorities/governments. The National Campaign for Education (NCE) Nepal, brought together representatives from civil society, journalists, teachers, youth groups and local governments for a two-day workshop to discuss the right to education and the Abidjan Principles in the context of Nepal.
Ashina Mtsumi of GI-ESCR, together with Solomon Sacco of Amnesty International attended the workshop on behalf of the Secretariat of the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education (the Abidjan Principles), providing technical support to partners interested in using them.
Global principles in the local context
The workshop was an opportunity for participants to delve into the details of the right to education, international law on education and the Abidjan Principles. The intention was to equip the participants with the technical knowledge to support the drafting of strong education laws and policies at the local level.
Mr Gauri Pradhan, an expert signatory to the Abidjan Principles, and Mr Rajendra Pahadi, Vice President of NCE Nepal opened the workshop with an overview of the legal framework on the right to education, and an assessment of the efforts made by both the federal and the local governments to meet their obligations to implement the right to education.
Participants commended the State for taking steps to respond to the needs of the communities, by distributing sanitary pads to keep girls in schools and by introducing English language in public schools. Despite these efforts, however, insufficient resources and inefficient distribution of the available resources, as well as the lack of facilities to support inclusive education, are key issues identified in the workshop as ongoing barriers for many communities.
Contextualising the Abidjan Principles
Solomon Sacco and Ashina Mtsumi presented the development process of the Abidjan Principles, from initial country-level research, through three-years of consultations, until adoption in February 2019, and the subsequent recognition by regional and international human rights bodies, and courts.
Participants unpacked and discussed key elements of the Abidjan Principles that are relevant for analysis of local education laws and policies, particularly relating to public education, the regulation private involvement in education, and financing. There was a particularly robust discussion on the scope of public education in the context of Nepal, which has a significant number of community schools.
Putting the Abidjan Principles into action
Over the course of the two days, participants developed a simple checklist tool to assess the three draft local laws on education against the key elements of the Abidjan Principles. This allowed participants to identifying gaps and develop concrete recommendations for amendments, to ensure the law will be aligned with the Abidjan Principles and in effect, with the right to education.
Building on this, participants developed action plans on how to ensure local legislation on education effectively draws from and contributes towards the fulfilment of the right to education.
The workshop closed with a recognition that free, quality, inclusive public education is possible in Nepal. Local government representatives committed to a review of the draft laws and to elaborate on minimum standards for both public and private schools. Likewise, civil society actors also committed to continue to review the proposed education legislation and monitor the implementation of the right to education by the local and national authorities.
For more information about the materials and resources used in this workshop please contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ashina Mtsumi is the Policy and Legal Officer with GI-ESCR. She is an advocate of the High Court of Kenya, currently assisting with policy and legal research and advocacy on the role and impact of private actors on the rights to education, health and water. Ashina comes to GI-ESCR from the Economic and Social Rights Centre-Hakijamii, where she carried out research and advocacy on the right to education and supported strategic litigation on the rights to land and housing. Ashina is based in Nairobi, Kenya.
This blog post was originally published by GIESCR and has been reposted with permission.