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.
Aimed at actively engaging parents, children, teachers, unions, communities and local civil society organisations in collectively monitoring and improving the quality of public education PRS offers a set of practical tools that can be used as a basis for mobilisation, advocacy and campaigning. The pack provides four key resources:
1) A charter of 10 rights which, when fulfilled, will enable all children to complete a good quality education;
2) A participatory methodology for: using the charter; collecting, analysing and using data; and consolidating information into ‘citizens reports’ that could be used for the development of Action Plans or to encourage discussions and reviews at local, district and national levels;
3) A series of education- and rights-based indicators organised in a survey format to enable users to capture information in a systematic manner;
4) A compilation of key international human rights references providing the foundations and legitimacy of the charter and reports
PRS builds on education and human rights frameworks to describe an ideal school that offers quality education. Its methodology supports links between programme work at the school level and advocacy and policy efforts in national and international forums. The process is as important as the outcome: it is only through engaging all stakeholders in the process - from developing the charter to collecting and analysing the data and debating the findings - that we will promote greater awareness of what needs to change and how.