29 July 2018

At the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), states reaffirmed their commitment to the right to education by adopting a resolution (A/HRC/RES/38/9) entitled ‘The right to education: follow-up to Human Rights Council resolution 8/4’.

The resolution, led by Portugal and sponsored by 45 states, highlights several global issues regarding enjoyment of the right to education, including the need to improve regulation of education in accordance with human rights law; the negative impact of climate change, natural disasters, conflict and crisis on education; gender barriers in education and exclusion of other vulnerable groups.

This resolution is linked to a recent report on governance and the right to education presented by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry. Her annual report (A/HRC/38/32) to the Human Rights Council considered how the right to education, and the commitments made in the Sustainable Development Goals, provide guidance for national education governance systems. The video of the intervention of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education is available here.

Based on this report, the HRC’s resolution urged the states the development of ‘national monitoring and evaluation systems to inform education policies and assess whether education systems are meeting national objectives, human rights obligations and the Sustainable Development Goals, inter alia, by collecting detailed and disaggregated data in order to evaluate whether the target populations, including girls and women, and members of groups in vulnerable situations, are adequately included, and how they are performing.’

The resolution urges States to give full effect to the right to education by reviewing national governance systems for consistency with the right to education and applying the principles of transparency, accountability and non-discrimination. It also calls states to expand educational opportunities for all without discrimination, including by implementing special programmes to address inequalities, including barriers to accessibility and discrimination against women and girls in education, recognizing the significant importance of investment in public education.

In addition, this resolution includes new elements from last year resolution: 

  • Referring to the Incheon Declaration, Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all, the resolution adds the importance of the ‘effective implementation’ of the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and mentions Goal 17 as a mean of implementation and  highlights particular vulnerable groups, as ‘internally displaced persons and refugees.’
  • The resolution mentions early childhood development, reiterating its importance as a valuable foundation of the entire basic education system
  • The resolution strengthens the paragraphs on girls’ education and gender-based discrimination adding ‘the lack of appropriate sanitary facilities, gender stereotypes’ and ‘patriarchal social norms’ in the list of barriers to access education. It calls States to accelerate efforts to eliminate gender-based discrimination and all for of violence, and the resolution mentions ‘sexual harassment’ as an example.
  • When calling upon States to take all necessary measures to ensure accessible, inclusive, equitable and non-discriminatory education, the resolution emphasises ‘all vulnerable and marginalized groups, including those affected by humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations.’
  • Referring to education under attack, and calling upon States to continue to make efforts to strengthen the protection of schools and provide safe, inclusive and enabling environment and quality education for all, the resolution adds the inclusion of ‘all levels of education.’
  • Referring to the use of information and communication technology, the resolution mentions it should be ‘strategic and adapted.’
  • Referring to human rights education, the resolution urges all States to ensure that ‘the components and processes of education governance and management, including curricula, methods and training, are undeniably conducive to strengthening learning about human rights.’
  • The resolution strengthens the paragraph on technical and vocational education, adding reference to ‘worked-based learning in all its forms’, ‘apprenticeship’ and ‘internship.’

The resolution on the right to education is usually adopted every year at the Human Rights Council June session when the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education presents her thematic report.

The resolution is available here and video of the vote is available here.