From humble beginnings in the early 1990s, charter schools have grown explosively to become a pillar in a market-oriented national education reform in the United States. The fiscal fallout from the financial crisis of 2007-08 constricted educational budgets and intensified the public debate around directing resources to all aspects of educational reform, especially charter schools.
The human right to education is well established in a variety of international treaties and covenants, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right establishes the obligation of states to provide all young people with a quality education, as defined by the prevailing social and economic context of each country. Guidance provided by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, focuses attention on the acceptability, availability, adaptability and accessibility of education in every context.
The impact of charter school expansion on the ability of U.S. states to implement the right to education for all children has, to date, been little considered in the national debate around education reform. Given the diversity of the legal foundations of charter schools in the states, it is difficult to carry out such an analysis at the national level.
Despite the fact that its public education system is rated among the most effective in the country, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been the site of large-scale implementation of the charter school model. Prominent educational research institutes have analyzed Massachusetts charters and found them - especially the schools located in Boston - to be among the most successful in the country.
The experience of Massachusetts charter schools undoubtedly includes positive effects on the implementation of the right to education. A significant number of students who had difficulty accessing quality education in traditional public schools have been able to do so in charter schools. Many of those students are from racial or ethnic groups that have faced historic discrimination in U.S. public schools. In addition, charter schools are, by their nature, adaptations of the public education model and, therefore, increase the adaptability of the system.
At the same time, other aspects of the charter school model raise concerns from a human rights perspective, some of them serious concerns. The extreme school discipline models employed by some charters and the increased use of disciplinary exclusion to maintain social order in the schools both raise human rights concerns that go well beyond the right to education. Also, the existence of an “enrollment gap” between charter schools and traditional public schools, especially in relation to the enrollment of Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners is the source of further concern. Finally, the way in which charter schools are financed, in Massachusetts and in most other jurisdictions, gradually degrades the financial capacity of public school districts. This loss of financial capacity often leads to mass school closings or other major disruptions to the system. In districts with high charter density, this process can reach the point where the capacity of the district to provide for even the basic educational needs of all students comes into question.
Massachusetts and other states with relatively high charter density in urban centers should reinforce regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure the accountability of existing charter schools to legal and regulatory frameworks. In addition, legislative bodies considering laws to allow further expansion of charter schools should carefully consider the impacts of charter school growth on the human right to education of all children in their jurisdiction before enabling such expansion.
The Special Rapporteur examines the right to education in the digital age and, specifically, how to uphold the norms and principles that underlie the right to education while embracing digital technologies, which are revolutionising teaching and learning processes and transforming the landscape of higher education. He considers issues related to marginalisation and exclusion, as well as the quality of education, especially human values in education. Concerns are expressed about the digital divide and about how it affects fundamental principles, such as equality of opportunity. The Special Rapporteur sets out policy and legal responses to address these issues and challenges, bearing in mind the normative framework of the right to education as established in international human rights treaties. He also highlights the repercussions of digital technologies on public investment in education and on the quality of education, especially in respect of preserving human values in education, and underlines the need to safeguard education as a public good. Finally, he offers a set of recommendations for ensuring that the implementation of digital technology in education is in keeping with State obligations on the right to education as laid down in international human rights conventions.
In this decision, the Supreme Court of India interpreted the right to education to include the right to the provision of a safe environment in schools, and imposed an obligation on schools to comply with certain fire safety precautions which were detailed in the judgment.
More than 40 percent of Tanzania’s adolescents are left out of quality lower-secondary education despite the government’s positive decision to make lower-secondary education free.
This report examines obstacles, including some rooted in outmoded government policies, that prevent more than 1.5 million adolescents from attending secondary school and cause many students to drop out because of poor quality education. The problems include a lack of secondary schools in rural areas, an exam that limits access to secondary school, and a discriminatory government policy to expel pregnant or married girls.
For a summary, see here.
For an esay to read version, in English, see here.
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.
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.
This report examines public-private partnerships in education, which are inextricably linked to rapidly expanding privatization. The Special Rapporteur highlights their implications for the right to education and for the principles of social justice and equity. Lastly, he offers a set of recommendations with a view to developing an effective regulatory framework, along with implementation strategies for public-private partnerships in education, in keeping with State obligations for the right to education, as laid down in international human rights conventions, and the need to safeguard education as a public good.
In this report, the Special Rapporteur examines the implementation of the right to education and Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context of the growth of private actors in education. She presents the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education, and recommends their full implementation. She recalls that international human rights law requires States to provide free, quality, public education. Depending on their nature and aims, private actors may contribute to the realization of the right to education and offer educational alternatives, thus enhancing, for example, respect for cultural diversity. However, the persistent underfunding of public education and the rapid and unregulated growth in the involvement of private, in particular commercial, actors in education, threaten the implementation of the right to education for all and Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Finally, she made observations and recommendations on the obligation of States to fund and provide public education and provides some concrete suggestions and solutions. It draws on the Abidjan Principles, in particular with regard to the obligation to regulate private actors involved in education, public-private partnerships and the role of donors and civil society.
Dans ce rapport, la Rapporteuse spéciale examine la mise en œuvre du droit à l’éducation et de l’objectif de développement durable 4 face à l’importance croissante des acteurs privés dans le domaine de l’éducation. Elle présente les Principes d’Abidjan sur les obligations en matière de droits de l’homme qui incombent aux États de fournir un enseignement public et de réglementer la participation du secteur privé dans le domaine de l’éducation, et recommande de les mettre pleinement en œuvre. Elle rappelle que le droit international des droits de l’homme impose aux États l’obligation de garantir un enseignement public gratuit et de qualité. Selon leur nature et leurs objectifs, les acteurs privés peuvent contribuer à la réalisation du droit à l’éducation et favoriser notamment le respect de la diversité culturelle en proposant de nouvelles formes d’éducation. Le sous-financement chronique de l’enseignement public et l’essor rapide et non réglementé des acteurs privés, en particulier ceux à vocation commerciale, dans le domaine de l’éducation, menacent toutefois la mise en œuvre du droit à l’éducation pour tous et la réalisation de l’objectif de développement durable 4.
Enfin, le rapport contient des observations et des recommandations concernant l’obligation qui incombe aux États de garantir et de financer un enseignement public, ainsi que des suggestions et des solutions concrètes. Il s’inspire des Principes d’Abidjan, notamment en ce qui concerne l’obligation de réglementer la participation des acteurs privés dans le domaine de l’éducation, les partenariats public-privé et le rôle des donateurs et de la société civile.