While South Africa has seen important advances in the provision of early childhood care and education (ECCE), about 3.2 million children still lack access to any programme. Problems of access and quality are most pronounced in the poorest communities. Even before Covid-19 forced many providers to close, these programmes were overcrowded, with poor infrastructure, and an under-paid and under-qualified workforce. ECCE is crucial for a child’s development, meaning that these inequalities are amplified in school and later life.
In her first report to the Human Rights Council, 25 years after the establishment of the mandate on the right to education, the Special Rapporteur reviews achievements, particularly on how the right to education is understood today and the obligations it entails, as well as contemporary and emerging issues that need to be considered to ensure the right to education for all, today and in the future.
The right to a basic education is one of the only socio-economic rights in the South African Constitution that is unqualified. This means that it is not subject to ‘progressive realisation’ within available resources – such as, for instance, the rights to further education, housing, healthcare, food, and social security. The right to basic education is immediately realisable, regardless of available resources.
This documented was submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education in February 2023, in response to a call for contributions for a report she is developing for the UN Human Rights Council.
The purpose of these Guidelines and Toolkit is to describe the different operational tools developed to help education stakeholders systematically collect and analyse the efforts put in place to ensure the right to education. These efforts should be central to every educational planning or programming document. The resulting analysis should also bring to light different and challenging policy gaps in education.
In the light of human rights standards on the right to education and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the signatory civil society organisations below raise serious concerns about the potential implications of the recently released working paper “Can Education be Standardized? Evidence from Kenya". We urge governments and other actors to recognise the limitations of this study, which some will seek to use to justify the expansion of for-profit private provision of education and scripted teaching methods.
Higher education is too often dissociated from the right to education. In many countries tuition fees are on the rise, and only the privileged have access to, or succeed in completing, higher education, making it difficult to argue that there is an actual right to higher education to be enforced. However, international human rights law is clear: the right to education includes the obligation of states to ensure that higher education is made accessible to all based on capacity.
50th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education on her report on impacts of digitalisation on the right to education. Oral Statement by the Global initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE).