This case concerns whether the right to basic education includes a right to be provided with transport to and from school at state expense for those scholars who live a distance from their schools and who cannot afford the cost of that transport. 

In this action brought by a transgender student against the National Service of Education (SENA), the Constitutional Court defended the right to education and the free development of the person by ordering that the student be allowed to wear a male uniform, that he be treated in accordance with his identity as a transgender man, and that the SENA implement a plan that promotes the respect and free development of the person, particularly regarding expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation.

In this decision, the Court found that the right to education of a disabled child had been violated when the educational institution did not award an official certificate of completion for his secondary education, even after the student had met all the requirements of his personalised education project (proyecto pedagógico individual or PPI) because his PPI did not comply with the minimum requirements under local regulations. The Court concluded that people with disabilities have the right to an inclusive education on an equal basis with others, and this includes the right to have their capabilities and accomplishments certified under equal conditions. ‘Equal conditions’ does not necessarily mean identical requirements but rather, making reasonable adjustments to ensure that individuals are treated as equals. Namely, the Court explained that the plaintiff, having met the specific requirements of his PPI and having attended and passed 5 years of courses at the institution, had the same right as his classmates that had met the requirements imposed on them to receive a certificate.

The Supreme Court of Canada upheld a decision of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (the ‘BC HRT’) (reversing the decisions of both the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal) that the Board of Education of School District No. 44 (North Vancouver) (the ‘School District’), by closing a facility that provided intensive services and individualised assistance to students with severe learning disabilities, had denied a child with severe dyslexia access to a service customarily available to the public, being education, contrary to the British Columbia Human Rights Code (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210, s. 8). Although the School District was subject to severe funding constraints, it was found to have not acted with a bona fide and reasonable justification, which could have provided a defence to the Human Rights Code violation.

This case involves the interpretation of the scope of the constitutional right in South Africa to basic education and in particular whether the provision of school textbooks to all basic education learners for the whole academic year is an essential component of this right.

 

In these three related decisions, the Kansas Supreme Court held that legislative changes to K-12 school funding, which reduced state-aid payments augmenting funds generated through property taxation in school districts with lower property values, violated the Kansas constitution. Article 6 of the Kansas constitution has previously been interpreted by the Kansas Supreme Court to require equity and adequacy in the provision of financing for education. The Kansas Supreme Court found that the legislative changes violated the equity requirement because school districts did not have reasonably equal access to substantially equal educational opportunity through similar tax efforts.

Key resource
This background paper was commissioned by the Global Education Monitoring Report team to assist in the drafting the 2018 GEM Gender Review: Accountability in education: Meeting our commitments to gender equality in education.

This paper firstly sets out the legal and political frameworks on gender equality in education to which states have committed and then describes how they have committed.

In the second section, the content of states’ commitments to achieve gender equality in education is explained, including the normative content of relevant provisions found in international and regional human rights treaties and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This section also includes a classification of states according to what legal commitments to women and girls’ right to education they have made.

The final section details how states can be held accountable for failure to meet their legal commitments to gender equality in education, including what mechanisms are available and examples of how these mechanisms have been used to hold states accountable.

International human rights law requires States to provide equal access to higher education without discrimination and to ensure the progressive realization of the right to free higher education. Although France outperforms many countries at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on many metrics regarding higher education, there remains significant problems, particularly ensuring equal access for students based on their place of origin. The opportunities students have, are not equal across all regions of France. Part of this inequality can be attributed to the socio-economic status of individual students. However, regional differences operate independently, and can exacerbate socio-economic inequalities, in determining participation in higher education. 

This policy brief shows that the unequal distribution of higher education institutions across the country results in students having to move across regions to access higher education, thus incurring costs (mainly housing and transportation), which are harder to meet for those who do decide to move, due to regional differences in standards of living. Coupled with the stagnation of budget allocation to higher education and the general rise in tuition fees, these indirect costs of education constitute a significant barrier to the enjoyment of the right to free higher education on a non-discriminatory basis.

Key resource

This paper was commissioned by the Global Education Monitoring Report as background information to assist in drafting the 2019 GEM Report, Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls.

In 2017, there were an estimated 258 million people living outside their country of origin. Of them, about 30 million were school-aged. Migrants include different groups such as refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers, stateless, undocumented migrants and internal displaced persons. The right to education of migrants, irrespective of their legal or migration status, is guaranteed under international law on the basis of the human rights principles of equality and non-discrimination. The main treaties guaranteeing the right to education apply to all migrants. In addition, migrant-specific treaties include provisions on the right to education. This international legal framework applies only to the extent that states have committed to it. At national level, migrants face legal and practical barriers to effectively enjoying their right to education. Some states show good examples of protecting the right to education of migrants in law and in practice.

 

This report shows how a student’s place of origin within France, that is, the region in which they live prior to the beginning of their studies, coupled with their socio-economic background can mean that the cost of education, which is heavily influenced by the structure of the French higher education system, poses a significant barrier to their enjoyment of the right to higher education.