27 October 2022

On the occasion of the presentation at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education's report on early childhood care and education (ECCE), Portugal, Farida Shaheed, UNESCO, the Right to Education Initiative, the University of Oxford, OMEP, CLADE and Human Rights Watch invite you for a 90 minute online event on 2 November 2022, 10am New York time / 3pm Geneva time, to discuss:

  • States' obligations emanating from the human right to education on what concerns the provision of ECCE building on the rights of children in early childhood already recognised in several international legal instruments

  • The effective implementation of the rights of young children with regards to ECCE by reinforcing and developing legal and policy frameworks at the country level.

Speakers will provide short inputs in introduction to set the context followed by an interactive discussion with the audience, including State representatives from Geneva and New York Delegations, UN representatives, academics, and civil society organisations.


Speakers will include:

  • Farida Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education

  • A representative of the Ministry of Labour of Portugal 

  • Professor Sandra Fredman, Oxford University

  • Rolla Moumné, UNESCO

  • Rajakumari Michaelsamy, Right to Education Initiative 


Key information


  • EDT (New York): 10am
  • GMT (London): 2pm
  • CET (Geneva): 3pm
  • EAT: (Nairobi): 5pm
  • PHST: (Manila): 10pm

Register here



Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) is increasingly recognised as an essential element in realising a wide range of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to education. It enables all children, including those in most vulnerable situations, to start school on an equal footing with their peers and improve overall educational achievement. The Education 2030 Framework for Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 4.2, calls upon States to ensure at least one year of free, quality, and compulsory universal pre-primary education for all children by 2030.

The right to education is guaranteed in many international human rights treaties, and guaranteeing young children’s universal access to ECCE is definitely part of the obligation of States to ensure the enjoyment of the right to education.

One year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education has been set up as a target for SDG4. This was an important step to create momentum and raise awareness to the obligation of States under international human rights law, to ensure ECCE as an integral part of the right to education.

At the national level however, legal frameworks in many countries are not adequate to achieve goals for universal access to pre-primary education. UNESCO’s global study on the right to pre-primary education estimates that only around 34% (63 out of 184) countries have adopted a minimum of 1-year pre-primary education, and around 28% (51 out of 184) adopted compulsory pre-primary education, with just 25%  countries adopting free and compulsory pre-primary education.

ECCE is not seen systematically enough as a priority in terms of public investment and other educational and developmental strategies. This has been evident from the recent experience of the COVID 19 pandemic, with ECCE mostly excluded in COVID-19 education response strategies. The closure of ECCE centres exacerbated the inequalities and disparities among children, showing the importance of developing frameworks and policies that guarantee the implementation of the right to education, including the provision of ECCE on a solid, perennial, and sustainable basis, including in times of emergencies and crises.

The Global Partnership Strategy for Early Childhood (GPS), developed under UNESCO’s leadership and launched in 2021, identifies this issue and includes a component on strengthening policy and governance on ECCE.  In parallel to the GPS, UNESCO’s global conversation on the Right to Education initiated, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Convention against Discrimination in Education, a discussion on the evolving dimensions of the right to education recognising ECCE as one of the key components of the right to education. 

Building on these recent developments, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education recently presented a report fully dedicated to ECCE at the UN General Assembly on the 18 October 2022.

This discussions at the event will draw on all recent developments and areas for development, bringing together multisectoral actors to consider how legal frameworks can be strengthened.