RESULTS Educational Fund’s report “From Free to Fee”, investigates World Bank’s basic education investments through its private lending arm (the IFC). The report seeks to explore if IFC investments in education reach the poorest groups and help reduce extreme poverty. From Free to Fee provides evidence from IFC funded schools in Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa, and presents recommendations for the World Bank, the IFC, and other investors on how to more effectively end poverty through basic education.
This case concerns whether the right to basic education includes a right to be provided with transport to and from school at state expense for those scholars who live a distance from their schools and who cannot afford the cost of that transport.
This High Court case deals with the constitutional obligation of the South African government to promote basic education by securing timely appointment and funding of educators at all public schools.
In South Africa, SECTION27 has used rights-based strategies, including litigation, to hold the state accountable for not ensuring the procurement and delivery of textbooks to schools across Limpopo, a poor rural area of the country.
In this decision, the Constitutional Court of South Africa held that an eviction order obtained by an owner of private land on which a public school was located could not be enforced where it would impact students’ right to basic education and the best interests of the child under the South African Constitution (sections 28 and 29). The Court held that a private landowner and non-sate actor has a constitutional obligation not to impair the right to basic education under section 29 of the Constitution. The Court also held that, unlike other socio-economic rights protected by the Constitution, the right to basic education is immediately realisable and any limitation of this right must be 'reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom'.
This case involves the interpretation of the scope of the constitutional right in South Africa to basic education and in particular whether the provision of school textbooks to all basic education learners for the whole academic year is an essential component of this right.
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.
In 1995, the parents of an Indian pupil brought a case against University of Natal because her application to medical school was rejected despite the satisfactory results she obtained in her qualifying examinations. They claimed that the admission process was discriminatory because it did not consider all the applications equally, but set higher admission standards for Indian students and lower ones for African students. The parents argued that this is as a violation of ‘equal access to educational institution’ provision of the constitution as well as sections 8(1) and 8 (2) in regard to ‘setting a discriminatory practice’. The Court agreed that while Indian community had been decidedly disadvantaged by the apartheid system, African pupils were even more so. Accordingly, the Court held that a selection system which compensated for this discrepancy does not violate the provisions of sections 8(1) and 8(2) of the Constitution.
While South Africa has seen important advances in the provision of early childhood care and education (ECCE), about 3.2 million children still lack access to any programme. Problems of access and quality are most pronounced in the poorest communities. Even before Covid-19 forced many providers to close, these programmes were overcrowded, with poor infrastructure, and an under-paid and under-qualified workforce. ECCE is crucial for a child’s development, meaning that these inequalities are amplified in school and later life. This has knock-on effects for caregivers, particularly women, and their ability to access quality work. This article argues that the right to equality can be mobilised both in relation to the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 and international law to address these disparities. By using a framework of substantive equality, we conclude that poverty, gender and race are potential grounds for discrimination both directly and indirectly. We further propose that resource-based justifications for limiting this right are unacceptable when budgets permit unequal resource distribution and contravene a government’s positive duty to fulfil the right to equality.
In her 2022 Report on the impact of the digitalisation of education on the right to education, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education clarified that any introduction of digital technologies in education must be framed around the right of every person to public, free, quality education and the commitments of states in this regard both under international human rights law and Sustainable Development Goal 4. This paper affirms that state obligations under the human rights framework must be the starting point for assessing and responding to discussions related to the monitoring of children’s activities and the collection and use of their data in the field of education. Part 2 outlines the international and regional human rights legal framework that governs the relationship between technology and education, providing a baseline upon which states can verify compliance with international human rights law and useful guidance for anyone seeking to understand the impacts of existing and emerging educational products and services. Part 3 then provides a comparative analysis of the regulation of technology and education in ten countries, through an examination of current data protection, education and related legislation, for the purpose of understanding how different countries are paying attention to and addressing key human rights issues with regards to technology in education in practice.
Background paper to 2023 UNESCO GEM Report 'Technology in education: a tool on whose terms?'