There are numerous reasons why millions of people around the world are deprived of adequate education. Some of these reasons, such as natural disasters, humanitarian crises or scarcity of resources are often beyond the control of governments, and as such, cannot be deemed human rights violations. Nonetheless, using a human rights approach calls attention to the fact that widespread deprivations are all too often not inevitable; rather, they are frequently generated or exacerbated by the lack of political will of governments

A government’s failure to prevent or rectify avoidable deprivations can take many forms. In some cases, these failures are the result of deliberate policies of government agents, such as corrupt practices that reduce the resources available for the progressive achievement of economic and social rights, or discriminatory practices such as deploying less qualified and experienced teachers to those areas where the majority of people belong to an ethnic minority group.

Adapted from Felner, E (2008) A new frontier in economic and social rights advocacy? Turning quantitative data into a tool for human rights accountability, Sur International Journal on Human Rights, Year 5, Number 9.