The second edition of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) presents the latest evidence on global progress towards the education targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With hundreds of millions of people still not going to school, and many not achieving minimum skills at school, it is clear education systems are off track to achieve global goals. The marginalised currently bear the most consequences but also stand to benefit the most if policy-makers pay sufficient attention to their needs. Faced with these challenges, along with tight budgets and increased emphasis on results-oriented value for money, countries are searching for solutions. Increased accountability often tops the list.

The 2017/8 GEM Report shows the entire array of approaches to accountability in education. It ranges from countries unused to the concept, where violations of the right to education go unchallenged, to countries where accountability has become an end in itself instead of a means to inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and lifelong learning for all.

The report emphasises that education is a shared responsibility. While governments have primary responsibility, all actors – schools, teachers, parents, students, international organizations, private sector providers, civil society and the media – have a role in improving education systems. The report emphasises the importance of transparency and availability of information but urges caution in how data are used. It makes the case for avoiding accountability systems with a disproportionate focus on narrowly defined results and punitive sanctions. In an era of multiple accountability tools, the report provides clear evidence on those that are working and those that are not.

This youth report, based on findings and conclusions from the 2017/8 Global Education Monitoring report, asks how young people are involved in the process of accountability in education. As students, what are we responsible for in our education and how are we held accountable? How can we make sure other actors–like schools, universities and governments–are held accountable for their responsibilities? These are critical questions, because we know that there’s a long way to go before all young people around the world have access to a quality education:
absent teachers, overcrowded classrooms, illegitimate diplomas, unregulated private schools and truancy are all issues that education systems are struggling to overcome.

It’s sometimes tempting to say that these problems aren’t ours to fix, that the responsibility lies with the government or with an older generation. But this simply isn’t true: education is a shared responsibility, and young people have an important role to play. In this Report, you’ll hear the stories of young people around the world who have stood up for the right to education in their communities and who have been integral in triggering change. You’ll also read about how you can become involved in our campaign to make sure governments can be held to account for education. This means making sure that citizens can take their governments to court if they are not meeting their education responsibilities. From creating video clips to holding awareness-raising events, there is a range of ways to make your voice heard. Your involvement is integral in making sure the world is on the right path to meeting our education goals. 

According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.

The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.

The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.

 

Key resource

As highlighted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugee education is today in crisis. With millions of people who are currently refugees mainly hosted in low- and middle income countries as well as in least developed countries, the challenges are important. In view of Education 2030 – Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the recent massive influx of refugees UNESCO seeks to draw attention to the fact that, in order to guarantee the right to education for all, it is critical that all those in a refugee-like situation enjoy equal access to an education of good quality.

This Working Paper aims to provide an overview of the international legal framework protecting the right to education of refugees worldwide, including the obligations of States, as well as the main current issues. It also shows that, despite the existence of a strong applicable framework to guarantee the right to education of refugees worldwide, the challenges and obstacles encountered in this context may dramatically prevent its enjoyment. The paper also emphasizes that, even though ensuring the right to education is fundamental in all phases of the situation, there is a particular need to draw attention to the stabilisation phase. This phase relates to a structural context involving host states’ educational policies and legal frameworks as well as matters related to the adaptation and integration. With a view to effectively protecting the right to education for refugees and seeking sustainable policy solutions, the main features of the right to education – availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability – may offer a relevant framework for States to adopt and implement solid legal and policy national frameworks prohibiting discrimination or exclusion based on any ground and protecting fundamental rights. Therefore, sustainable policy responses based on effective implementation of States’ legal obligations will ensure the fulfilment of refugees’ right to education, responding to the ambition of an inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030.

Of the 57 million children worldwide without access to education, over one third lives in settings of conflict and fragility (UNESCO, 2015). The escalating crisis in Syria has contributed significantly to this out-of-school population, with well over half of 1.4 million Syrian refugee children and adolescents not in school (UNICEF, 2016). While education in emergencies has risen as a policy priority in the mandates of international organizations (Menashy and Dryden-Peterson, 2015), the share of total overseas development assistance to education has declined sharply in recent years, with funding persistently low in conflict-affected states (UNESCO, 2015; 2016). Within this context, private sector engagement in education has become increasingly appealing to a growing portion of the international community. Private actors have responded in turn, spurring new initiatives, funding commitments and partnership arrangements to advance the cause of educating refugee children. Such commitments are indicative of the growing role of private entities as both educational funders and providers in contexts of crisis. This study explores the complex interrelationship between conflict and private sector participation through a case study of the education of Syrian refugees. It is estimated that 900,000 Syrian refugee children and adolescents are not enrolled in school, with enrolment rates for Syrian refugees at only 70% in Jordan, 40% in Lebanon, and 39% in Turkey (UNHCR, 2016b).  Although private engagement in this context is evidently expanding, the exact nature and scale of this involvement has been unclear. This research seeks to better understand which private entities are engaging in the sector, the activities through which private companies and foundations support education, and the rationales and motivations that drive their involvement.

In Lebanon—a country of around 4.5 million citizens—almost one in four people today is a refugee. Since the start of the Syria conflict in 2011, 1.1 million Syrians have registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the Lebanese Government puts the total number at 1.5 million.

In countries across the globe from Afghanistan to Colombia to India to Mali to Turkey to Yemen and on, students, teachers, and educational facilities are under siege. Targeted killings, rape, abduction, child recruitment, intimidation, threats, military occupation, and destruction of property are just some of the ways in which education is being attacked.

Between 2013 and 2017, there were more than 12,700 attacks, harming more than 21,000 students and educators in at least 70 countries. In 28 countries profiled in this report, at least 20 attacks on education occurred over the last 5 years.

This document lists the international instruments that protect the right to education in emergencies.

 

In spite of the impressive indicators regarding education enrolment and attendance in the occupied Palestinian territoty, access to quality education remains significantly compromised. The educational process has been obstructed and interrupted, and the dignity and safety of students and teaching staff violated in the process. The primary responsibility for this lies with the conflicting parties that continue and prolong a situation of protracted conflict and humanitarian crisis. These violations do not appear as isolated incidents or the unintended consequences of policies and budgetary constraints. Rather, they are the result of systematic targeting and legal discrimination at the levels of the legislature, government, judiciary and the military.

This report does not in itself attempt to document and analyse these violations and systematically document discrimination. Rather, it offers a methodology for how to monitor, analyse and report on the situation. It does so by offering both concepts and tools to allow us to understand, identify and access the relevant legal frameworks and mechanisms that may serve to address violations and bring about change.

The report builds in part on a series of interviews and workshops, conducted in 2011 in both Ramallah and Gaza City under the auspices of UNESCO. These workshops and other informational meetings allowed the Right to Education Initiative to engage in substantial capacity building regarding the human rights approach and to set the scene for the initial stages of a constructive dialogue. The hope is that this report may contribute to renewed action in three main directions: an understanding of the importance of using IHRL to support the Palestinian education system; an inclusion of IHRL into existing advocacy strategies; and an improvement regarding the way education policies and programmes are made.

In 2018, the international community will meet to adopt a new Global Compact on Refugees; a product of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Compact promises that ‘all refugee children will be in school and learning within a few months of arrival’ and commits to ‘prioritise budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries as required’. The opportunity to advance this agenda is now. However, commitments without actionable plans do not deliver results.  

The report ‘Time to act: a costed plan to deliver quality education to every last refugee child’ sets out a realistic, global plan to ensure refugee children get to go to school. Save the children challenges governments and international agencies to deliver on the promises they have made with practical action.

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