6 July 2020

On 3rd of July, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Dr Koumbou Boly Barry, presented her new report on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the right to education at the 44th Session of the UN Human Rights Council. In her report, the Special Rapporteur highlights the range of significant challenges created and amplified by the CODID-19 pandemic and how the Abidjan Principles on the right to education can provide guidance for States as they navigate these challenges.

She emphasises that acting within a human rights framework is crucial to ensure that measures adopted in response to the pandemic do not jeopardize the right to education and do not increase the suffering of the most marginalized.

In her report, she stresses and develops  the following issues of concerns:

  • structural discrimination and rising inequalities 

  • adequacy and inadequacy of remedial tools: high-tech, low-tech and no-tech solution.

  • digitalization of education: challenges and opportunities

  • the rights of teachers and other education workers

  • the future of public education systems

She recommends that a thorough assessment should be conducted to unpack, in each local context, the dynamics at play that led to increased discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to education during the crisis. The assessment should include:

  • an analysis of rising inequalities due to the measures adopted to face the pandemic; 

  • an investigation into the sustainability of economic and financial models behind education systems, including the consequence of poor funding of public educational institutions; 

  • a scrutiny of the role of private actors in education;

  • an evaluation of the adequacy of social protection provided for education workers, including in the private sector; 

  • a scrutiny of the lack of cooperation between States’ administrations, educational institutions, teachers, learners, parents and communities.

In a joint statement submitted to the Human Rights Council, the Right to Education Initiative and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur and emphasised her call for States to prioritise the funding and delivery of free, quality, public education, and implement minimum standards to secure the privacy and data protection for learners and teachers. Watch the video of the joint statement presented by our colleague Ashina Mtsumi from the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

On 10th of July, a webinar on Education in time of Covid was organised by the Human Rights Law Centre of the University of Nottingham with the UN Special Rapporteur, two RTE’s advisers: Professors Aoife Nolan and  Simon McGrath, together with Professor Allyson Pollock. Questions covered include:  how has COVID-19 affected education and the right to education? What standards should be applied when considering what education measures states– and should not – take when faced with a public health crisis? How can should education systems be reconceptualised to render them more resilient in the face of future public health crises? Watch the video.