The final report of the outgoing Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Ms Kombou Boly Barry, was presented to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 18 October by the newly appointed Special Rapporteur, Ms Farida Shaheed.
The report highlights the ‘developmental, educational, social, cultural and economic benefits’ of ECCE to children, their families and wider society, and urges states to recognise and enshrine ECCE rights from birth until primary school.
It adopts a rights-based approach to ECCE, acknowledging the existence of this right as part of the universal right to education under various International human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Member of Their Families.
At the same time, it observes that ECCE rights are ‘captured piecemeal in multiple instruments’ and lack explicit reference. As such, the UN Special Rapporteur calls for a more specific legal instrument that provides guidance at all levels to ensure that ECCE rights are defined and enshrined, and that every child receives free, high-quality ECCE which aligns international legal human rights obligations to the political commitments contained within SDG4.
This report reflects a milestone in the realisation of young children’s right to education, and thus paves the way for long-term change and improvement to education systems, entrenched inequalities, and cohesive social development.