Advocacy is the process of influencing those who make policy decisions, write laws and regulations, and distribute resources that affect people’s well-being. Advocacy delivers deliberate messages intended to influence the thoughts, perspectives and actions of people in authority.

Campaigning is one strategy for advocacy, building public pressure around an issue through strategies like mass action, public forums and media campaigns.

Lobbying is another strategy for advocacy, building pressure around an issue within the education system through strategies such as policy analysis and dialogue, negotiation and forming collaborative partnerships.

Source: Commonwealth Education Fund (2009) A Budget Guide for Civil Society Organisations Working in Education: p.24.

Disaggregated data is data that has been broken down by detailed sub-categories, for example by marginalised group, gender, region or level of education. Disaggregated data can reveal deprivations and inequalities that may not be fully reflected in aggregated data.

Discrimination “implies any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference which is based on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by all persons, on an equal footing, of all rights and freedoms” (Human Rights Committee General Comment 18: Para 7). International law prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination:

  • Direct discrimination is when a person, on account of one or more of the prohibited grounds (see multiple discrimination), is treated less favourably than someone else in comparable circumstances.
  • Indirect discrimination is when a practice, rule, policy, or requirement is outwardly neutral but has a disproportional impact upon a particular group. For an example of indirect discrimination, see DH and others v Czech Republic.

For further information, see INTERIGHTS (2011) Non-Discrimination in International Law: A Handbook for Practitioners.

Duty-bearers are those actors who have a particular obligation or responsibility to respect, promote and realise human rights and to abstain from human rights violations. The term is most commonly used to refer to State actors, but non-State actors can also be considered duty-bearers. An obvious example is private armed forces or rebel groups, which under international law have a negative obligation to refrain from human rights violations. Depending on the context, individuals (eg parents), local organisations, private companies, aid donors and international institutions can also be duty-bearers.

Source: UNICEF Gender Equality - UN Coherence and You – Glossary: p.1.

Education inputs are the means used in an education system to achieve education objectives, such as: the number of teachers, school facilities, teaching materials supplies and the cost and level of financial resources used for education.

Education policies are the set of actions, laws, regulatory measures, and funding priorities on education adopted by a government.

Strictly speaking laws and policies are distinct: laws are a system of rules that regulate behaviour, and are usually enforceable in courts; whilst policies are informal and set out a government’s major objectives, defining the government’s priorities and strategies to achieve its goals.

Education policies and laws are the primary means by which the right to education is implemented at the national and sub-national level.

Fundamental education replaces missed primary education; however the right to fundamental education is far broader. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) provides the following interpretation of fundamental education (Article 13 (2) (d)) in General Comment 13: “It should be emphasised that enjoyment of the right to fundamental education is not limited by age or gender; it extends to children, youth and adults, including older persons. Fundamental education, therefore, is an integral component of adult education and life-long learning. Because fundamental education is a right of all age groups, curricula and delivery systems must be devised which are suitable for students of all ages” (paragraph 24).

Furthermore, the CESCR adds that ‘fundamental education’ in general terms corresponds to ‘basic education’, as laid out in the World Declaration on Education for All (1990, Jomtien Declaration).

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of the output of all goods and services produced in a country during a given time period – usually a year.

Per capita GDP is GDP divided by the total population.

GDP and per capita GDP are indicators commonly used to measure the level of economic development of a country.

Human rights monitoring is the process of collection and verification of information on human rights problems. For more details on monitoring the right to education, see Right to Education Project’s page on Monitoring.

An indicator is a “trend or fact that indicates the state or level of something” (Oxford Dictionary). Indicators differ from statistics, which tend to be purely descriptive, in that they have a reference point. In the case of human rights indicators, the reference point is human rights norms, standards and principles.

Human rights indicators are used by civil society to monitor human rights compliance and report findings to advocate for changes in legislation, policy and practice.

Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966) obliges States to take the necessary steps to the maximum of its available resources to progressively realise the right to education. Maximum available resources refers to the resources available within the State and from the international community.

States must prioritise the allocation of necessary resources to ensuring the satisfaction of minimum essential levels of the right to education and other economic, social and cultural rights.

See CESCR Statement (2007) An evaluation of the obligation to take steps to the ‘maximum available resources’ under an optional protocol to the Covenant.

Minimum core obligations are the obligations on the State to ensure the satisfaction of minimum essential levels of a right. Vis-a-vis the right to education this includes: prohibiting discrimination in access to and in education, ensuring free and compulsory primary education for all, respecting the liberty of parents to choose schools for their children other than those established by public authorities, and protecting the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions.

Minimum core obligations are not subject to progressive realisation, however: “In order for a State Party to be able to attribute its failure to meet at least its minimum core obligations to a lack of available resources it must demonstrate that every effort has been made to use all resources that are at its disposition in an effort to satisfy, as a matter of priority, those minimum obligations” (CESCR (2003) General Comment 3: The Nature of States Parties’ Obligations (Art.2, Para.1): Para.10).

For further information on the minimum core obligations of the right to education, see Coomans, F (1998) Clarifying the Core Content of the Right to Education.

A person is subject to multiple forms of inequality if she or he is deprived or has unequal enjoyment of a human right on the basis of multiple grounds. Inequality and multiple inequality do not always amount to a violation as sometimes it is unavoidable. However, when the deprivation or inequality of enjoyment is avoidable, this is a violation of the right to non-discrimination and is known as multiple discrimination.

Multiple discrimination occurs when a person is discriminated against on one ground in a certain situation and a different ground in another context. For example, an indigenous girl may face discrimination on the basis of her sex in one context and in another situation she may be subject to racial discrimination.

Compound discrimination is discrimination on two or more grounds occurring at the same time. For example, an indigenous girl may suffer discrimination on the basis of her sex and race simultaneously. As a result she suffers an exacerbated and distinct form of discrimination.

Intersectional discrimination refers to a situation where several grounds operate and interact with each other at the same time in such a way that they are inseparable.

All three terms are often used interchangeably.

Outcome indicators measure the extent to which a population enjoys the right to education.

Policy cycle refers to the different phases of the policy-making process. Typically, these involve:

  1. Problem definition (ie the recognition of certain issue as a public problem demanding government attention)
  2. Policy-formulation
  3. Implementation
  4. Evaluation

Primary data is data collected through primary research, that is, data collected from direct, first-hand experience, for example through interviews or questionnaires. Secondary data is data that has been previously collected.

Process indicators measure the various types of State efforts (such as: education policies, education inputs, budget allocation, and programmes and measures to address specific education issues) undertaken in order to realise and implement the right to education.

Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (1966) recognises that economic, social and cultural rights are not always immediately realisable. The full and immediate realisation of the right to education can be hampered by a lack of resources and can only be achieved over a period of time, particularly for countries with fewer resources.

The ICESCR therefore imposes the obligation to progressively realise certain aspects of the right to education (including free secondary, higher, and fundamental education). However, not all aspects of the right to education are subject to progressive realisation, for example, States must prohibit discrimination in and to education and ensure that primary education is free and compulsory for all.

For further information, see Right to Education Project’s page Understanding Education as a Human Right.

For further information on progressive realisation, see Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2003) General Comment 3: The Nature of States Parties’ Obligations (Art.2, Para.1).

Qualitative data is information that describes something that is not measurable, for example feelings, behaviour, gender, race, and socio-economic status.

Quantitative data is information that can be measured and expressed numerically, for example age and income.

A quintile is the portion of a frequency distribution containing a fifth (or 20%) of the total sample or population. The first quintile contains the lowest 20% of the sample or population. The first and second quintiles contain the lowest 40% of the sample or population.

A quintile is an example of a quantile. A quantile is: “Each of any set of values of a variate which divide a frequency distribution into equal groups, each containing the same fraction of the total population” (Oxford Dictionary).

Reservation refers to a unilateral statement, however phrased or named, made by a State (…) when signing, ratifying, formally confirming, accepting, approving or acceding to a treaty, or by a State when making a notification of succession to a treaty, whereby the State (…) purports to exclude or to modify the legal effect of certain provisions of the treaty in their application to that State (...).

Interpretative declaration means a unilateral statement, however phrased or named, made by a State (…), whereby that State (…) purports to specify or clarify the meaning or scope of a treaty or of certain of its provisions.

For more Information, see International Law Commission (2011) Guide to Practice on Reservations to Treaties.

Retrogressive measures are those taken by States that downgrade or limit existing levels of enjoyment of the right to education. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states:

“There is a strong presumption of impermissibility of any retrogressive measures taken in relation to the right to education, as well as other rights enunciated in the Covenant. If any deliberately retrogressive measures are taken, the State party has the burden of proving that they have been introduced after the most careful consideration of all alternatives and that they are fully justified by reference to the totality of the rights provided for in the Covenant and in the context of the full use of the State party’s maximum available resources” (Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999) General Comment 13: The right to education (Article 13): Para 45).

Examples of retrogressive measures include introducing school fees in secondary education when it had formerly been free of charge or an unjustified reduction of public expenditure on education.

Rights-holders are individuals or social groups that have particular entitlements in relation to specific duty-bearers. In general terms, all human beings are rights-holders under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In particular contexts, there are often specific social groups whose human rights are not fully realised, respected or protected. More often than not, these groups tend to include women and girls, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, and migrants and youth.

A human rights-based approach not only recognises that the entitlements of rights-holders need to be respected, protected and fulfilled, it also considers rights-holders as active agents in the realisation of human rights and development – both directly and through organisations representing their interests.

Source: UNICEF Gender Equality - UN Coherence and You – Glossary: p.5.

Shadow reports are a method for non-government organisations (NGOs) to supplement and / or present alternative information to reports governments are required to submit under human rights treaties. Unlike governments’ reports, which often highlight the progress of the State in meeting its human rights obligations whilst downplaying violations, shadow reports often provide treaty body committees with crucial information about problems in implementation and areas of government non-compliance.

NGOs around the world use shadow reports to lobby various United Nations' bodies, including treaty-monitoring bodies, thematic groups, charter-based bodies, and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Source: The Advocates for Human Right’s page on Shadow Reporting.

Stakeholders are all those who can affect your desired change, as well as those who are affected by it.

Structural indicators measure the commitments made by States in order to meet their obligations regarding the right to education.

UN treaty bodies are committees of independent experts created under a particular UN treaty. They are mandated to monitor how States that have ratified the treaty in question comply with their obligations to implement the human rights guaranteed by the treaty. They periodically examine State reports and issue concluding observations on States’ compliance to the treaty, as well as make recommendations.

Most treaty bodies can receive individual complaints or communications in cases of human rights violations, if the State in question has recognised the competence of the treaty body to do so.

Treaty bodies also adopt General Comments, which provide authoritative interpretations of the provisions of the treaty the treaty body oversees.

For further information, see Right to Education Project’s page on International Human Rights Mechanisms.