The Prešov Regional Court, one of the courts of appeals of the Slovak Republic, affirmed a lower court’s decision that schools cannot discriminate against children based on their ethnic origin or socially disadvantaged background. The Prešov Regional Court held that the defendant school was discriminating against children of Romani ethnic origin by placing those kids in separate Romani classes. It ordered that the school rectify the situation by the beginning of the next school year.

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.

 

The report provides a conceptual framework for minority rights in and through education and includes an analytical review of legal and practical developments in the four countries (Estonia, Latvia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Romania) involved in negotiations with the European Union. The result highlights huge divergence in practice in minority education, and a lack of clarity in just what the EU promotes.

In this decision, the Supreme Court of India upheld the constitutionality of section 12 of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE Act), which requires all schools, both state-funded and private, to accept 25% intake of children from disadvantaged groups. However, the Court held that the RTE Act could not require private, minority schools to satisfy a 25% quota, as this would constitute a violation of the right of minority groups to establish private schools under the Indian Constitution. This case affirms that the authority of the State to fulfil its obligations under the right to education can be extended to private, non-State actors. Because the State has the authority to determine the manner in which it discharge this obligation, it can elect to impose statutory obligations on private schools so long as the requirements are in the public interest.

On 3 July 2018, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the violation of rights of Indigenous Peoples around the world. The Resolution 2017/2206(INI) stresses the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with regards to Indigenous Peoples, including SDG 4.5 on access to education, and reiterates that Indigenous Peoples around the world suffer disproportionately from violations of human rights and insufficient access to education, among other fundamental rights.

This document lists the international instruments and provisions relevant to the right to education of minorities and indigenous peoples.

The 51-page report, “‘Without Education They Lose Their Future’: Denial of Education to Child Asylum Seekers on the Greek Islands,” found that fewer than 15 percent of more than 3,000 school-age asylum-seeking children on the islands were enrolled in public school at the end of the 2017-2018 school year, and that in government-run camps on the islands, only about 100 children, all preschoolers, had access to formal education. The asylum-seeking children on the islands are denied the educational opportunities they would have on the mainland. Most of those who were able to go to school had been allowed to leave the government-run camps for housing run by local authorities and volunteers.

General comment No. 20: Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, para. 2, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)

In his report, the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, provides a clear working definition of the concept of a minority in order to guide his activities and those of the United Nations. He describes a series of initiatives, including three regional forums that complement the Forum on Minority Issues. In the thematic section of his report, he sets out the often misunderstood language dimension of education for minorities, which emanates from the proper understanding and implementation of international human rights obligations. He describes the parameters of the application of human rights, and in particular the principles of equality without discrimination, as of primary importance for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education for all, including linguistic minorities such as users of sign languages.

China’s education policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) is significantly reducing the access of ethnic Tibetans to education in their mother tongue. The government policy, though called “bilingual education,” is in practice leading to the gradual replacement of Tibetan by Chinese as the medium of instruction in primary schools throughout the region, except for classes studying Tibetan as a language. Since the 1960s, Chinese has been the language of instruction in nearly all middle and high schools in the TAR, where just under half of Tibetans in China live, but new educational practices introduced by the government in the TAR are now leading more primary schools and even kindergartens to use Chinese as the teaching language for Tibetan students.

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