Step 5: Examine Policy Processes

Monitoring the right to education involves not only assessing policy efforts but also analysing the extent to which the process of elaboration, implementation and evaluation of thesepolicies has been undertaken in accordance with cross-cutting human rights principles, such as participation.

This step will help you assess, using a special category ofprocess indicators, the compliance of your country with these procedural human rights principles throughout thepolicy cycle of the education policies you identified in Step 3.

For a comprehensive and human rights-based monitoring exercise, it is necessary to examine both policy efforts and policy processes. If you have limited resources you may decide to forgo this step but you should make this explicit in your report.

Using the Indicators Selection Tool

The Indicators Selection Tool has an entire criterion devoted to policy processes. Please select the human rights principle (Accountability,Transparency orParticipation) you wish to monitor under Policy Processes and Governance.

When monitoring policy processes you do not need to make selections for the other criteria as this is a standalone criterion.

This step provides guidance for using policy process indicators. Please refer to the relevant section below for specific guidance on each human rights principle.

Download Step 5 (.pdf)

Dowload the Complete Guide (.pdf)

5.1 Accountability

In a lot of countries, many of the lasting problems in the delivery of education – unequal access to schools, poor quality, chronic teacher absenteeism, endemic corruption – are related to weak accountability mechanisms.

Rights imply duties, and obligations - to be effective - require accountability mechanisms. Human rights law can be used to hold governments – the primaryduty-bearer of human rights – accountable for avoidable deprivations and inequalities of education outcomes.

As part of your monitoring effort, you may want to assess the key accountability mechanisms that affect the full realisation of the right to education, including:

Inspection system within the education sector

Under international law, States are obliged to “establish and maintain a transparent and effective system which monitors whether or not education is, in fact, directed to the educational objectives set out in article 13 (1)” (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) General Comment 13: Para.49). In addition all education provided by private actors must conform to State-approved minimum standards and the State must maintain a transparent and effective system to monitor such minimum standards (CESCR General Comment 13: Para.54). For these reasons, most countries have oversight mechanisms within the education sector, enabling the Ministry of Education to assess theavailability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of its services, as well as its impact on the population. In evaluating the extent to which this type of system is effective in holding schools, teachers and school principals accountable for their performance, you may look at the following issues:

Complaint mechanisms

Most countries have complaint mechanisms that allow individuals to file complaints if they feel that their right to education has been violated. These complaint mechanisms, typically a human rights commission, an ombudsman or a Parliamentary Committee, provide an institutionalised process through which duty-bearers can be held accountable in relation to their duties, andright-holders can demand a remedy for human rights violations.

To assess the extent to which existing complaint mechanisms in your country serve as an effective means for accountability regarding violations of the right to education, you may want to analyse the following issues, using theIndicators Selection Tool:

  • Thenumber of administrative complaints on the right to education would indicate the extent to which the complaint mechanisms are being used.
  • The percentage of right to education complaints resolved within a given time frame may indicate whether the procedure is efficient and timely.
  • A comparison of the number of complaints received by the oversight institution(s), the number investigated, the number substantiated by investigation and the number of sanctions for staff and / or redress for the citizens involved. Theproportion of received complaints on the right to education that have been investigated by an administrative body would demonstrate the extent to which the institution has effective enforcement powers.
  • The extent to which the public has readily accessible information about the existence and procedures related to complaint mechanisms.
  • You could also assess the extent to which the oversight institutions responsible for handling complaints meet certainminimum conditions to be able to hold the government and civil servants accountable for violations of the right to education.

Judicial accountability

In countries where the right to education has been recognised in the constitution or in legislation and isjusticiable, courts can play a key role in holding governments to account. (If the right to education is not formally recognised and redress is not possible, then this is evidence of a lack of accountability.)

The number of legal cases that have been brought under these provisions is one indicator of their effectiveness, as is thenumber of court cases on educational rights. However, it is important to bear in mind that these numbers are not always due to the effectiveness of courts at holding governments to account. They could be due to: better investigative techniques, increased confidence in the judicial system that has led more people to report abuses, an increase in cases that have been brought against certain political opponents, or other factors. At the same time, a major factor influencing judicial accountability is the degree ofjudicial independence. Therefore, beyond looking at the number of cases brought to courts under provisions related to the right to education, it is also necessary to examine theproportion of court cases on the right to education that have been adjudicated against the State. You may also want to look at how and if court judgements are effectively enforced.

5.2 Transparency

Access to information is essential to enable people to exercise their human rights. Without relevant, timely and accurate information,right-holders cannot know which services they are entitled to, what the costs are (if any), which complaint mechanisms exist to seek redress when their right to education is violated, etc. For instance, without clear and easily accessible information about a school scholarship programme, parents may not know whether their children are eligible for a programme that may be their only means to afford to send their children to school.

Transparency is also the backbone of accountability. The efforts of civil society organisations and the media to hold governments accountable for the provision of quality education can be significantly undermined without regular access to government documents, data and records. For instance,lack of access to adequate budget data makes it harder to hold a government accountable for policies that are supposed to address inequalities in education.

In order to evaluate whether the education policy / programmes you are monitoring are adequately transparent, you may examine the following indicators, amongst others:

5.3 Participation

Public participation in the design, implementation and monitoring of education policies is a fundamental human right. Underlying this principle is the basic idea thatrights-holders should be active agents, rather than passive recipients. Public participation also helps to strengthen theacceptability and adaptability of education, allowing the government to know more about the concerns, needs and preferences of different groups.

As part of your monitoring effort, you may assess the extent to which the public is encouraged toparticipate at all stages of the education policy cycle.

TheIndicators Selection Tool includes a number of indicators designed to analyse the extent to which a wide range of education policies adopted by the government are adequately participatory. These include:

Furthermore, in order to evaluate whether the various participatory mechanisms set up by the government regarding these education policy / programmes are adequately participative, you may examine the following:

  • Inclusiveness: To what extent were the mechanisms set up by the government for participation in the formulation of the policy / plan inclusive, allowing different groups of the population - especially traditionally excluded or marginalised groups – to actively participate in the various stages of the policy cycle?

  • Informed participation: Did the government provide the necessary information to the public -through means that they can actually access - about key aspects of the education policy / programme (eg the scope of the problem it’s trying to address, its objectives and time-bound goals, intended beneficiaries, the resources available, etc) to enable informed participation?

  • Impact of participation: To what extent were the inputs from variousstakeholders taken into account? What was actually incorporated into the policy / plan and subsequently implemented?

Download Step 5 (.pdf)

Dowload the Complete Guide (.pdf)