This guide presents ideas and methodologies to put a human rights-based approach to education in practice. It focuses on six strategic areas that are central to (and provide a framework for) a HRBA to education including: understanding and securing the right to education working with excluded groups; financing education; promoting citizen participation in education securing rights in education; advancing a full "Education for All" agenda. Each section begins with a brief overview of key issues to be considered and then discusses a range of activities which could be developed within a scheme of work. Short practical examples are given, from a wide range of countries. The majority of the activities focus on work at the local level, but national and international links are also discussed. Within each section two or three areas are analysed in more detail.

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As an integral part of UNESCO’s Constitutional mission for ensuring “full and equal opportunities for education for all”, the realisation of the Right to Education is one of the biggest developmental challenges, as millions of children and adults remain deprived of basic education in today’s learning societies.

This document is a short leaflet on the right to education.

This practical toolkit on the right to education was published by Amnesty International in collaboration with the Right to Education Initiative.  It is part of the Haki Zetu handbook series on economic, social and cultural rights, developed by the Special Programme on Africa of Amnesty International Netherlands.

It contains sections on understanding the right to education and on taking action, with a particular focus on Africa – providing concrete examples at national and regional levels and reference to relevant laws and policies.  It is to be used in conjunction with the Main Book of the series, which provides general information on ESC rights. 

Both the Main Book and the practical toolkit on the Right to Education have been developed for local civil society organisations working with local communities to realise the right to education.  The tool seeks to assist community workers to better study laws and policies and promote the monitoring of the right to education.

Key resource

Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. Important steps have also been taken with regard to gender parity and states have made efforts to raise the quality of education through improved teacher policies and a growing emphasis on learning outcomes. 

Despite these efforts, breaches of the right to education persist worldwide, illustrated perhaps most starkly by the fact that 262 million primary and secondary-aged children and youth are still out of school. Girls, persons with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or rural areas, indigenous persons, migrants and national minorities are among those who face the worst discrimination, affecting both their right to go to school and their rights within schools.

To respond to the challenges, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) with UNESCO have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal.