The Right to Education Initiative (RTE) is a global human rights organisation focusing on the right to education. Established in 2000 by the first UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Katarina Tomaševski, RTE was re-launched in 2008 as the 'Right to Education Project', a collaborative initiative supported by ActionAid International, Amnesty International, Global Campaign for Education, Save the Children, and Human Rights Watch. Since May 2017 the Right to Education Initiative is a charity registered in England and Wales with the charity number 1173115.
Our vision is a world where the right to education for all becomes a reality, from early childhood to adulthood and throughout life, on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination and equality. A world where education is recognised as a human right itself in law and in practice and where all human rights in and through education are realised. A world where states and non-states actors can be held to account for their obligations and responsibilities respectively; and where civil society is empowered to play a key role to monitor its implementation.
RTE promotes education as a human right, making international and national law accessible to everybody. We conduct research and legal analysis and we develop tools and guides to help understand and effectively use human rights mechanisms to claim and enforce the right to education. We build bridges between disciplines (human rights, education and development), actors (CSOs, international organisations, academics), and language communities, linking international, national and local advocacy with practical engagements leading to positive changes on the ground.
For over fifteen years, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) has been promoting accountability and mobilisation on the right to education through policy-linked research, interdisciplinary knowledge transfer, technical support and capacity building. It has developed a clear niche as the definitive website on the right to education, with ground-breaking work on indicators and innovative research.
Our work is grounded in international human rights law, to ensure its implementation at the national and local level. We promote a human rights based approach to the processes and the outcomes of education interventions.
For the period 2017-2019, we have four strategic goals and six priority areas.
- increasing awareness and information sharing on the right to education
- contributing to the production of robust legal research and analysis on various aspects of the right to education, particularly in the focus/priority areas defined in this strategy
- reinforcing capacities on the right to education
- contributing to advocacy and mobilisation to advance the right to education and hold states accountable
- the role of private actors in education
- the right to education of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons
- the 2030 Education Agenda from a human rights perspective
- monitoring the right to education using indicators
- the financing of education
- the quality of education
The following principles apply to RTE’s work:
- education is a right and not a privilege
- the right to education is a civil, cultural, economic, political and social right and enabler of other rights. RTE draws on the full range of international instruments with a particular focus on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, promoting their implementation at the national level
- the right to education applies to both children and adults. RTE embraces a comprehensive definition of the right to education, which includes formal and non-formal education, early childhood, primary, secondary and vocational training and higher education
- RTE bases its work on a holistic vision of the right to quality education as defined under international law. Namely, education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
- RTE draws inspiration from the 4As Framework enshrined in international law, which states that the right to education should be Available, Accessible, Acceptable, and Adaptable
- RTE promotes a human rights based approach – incorporating the principles of participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and link to the human rights legal framework
- RTE works through collaborative partnerships aimed at empowering right to education advocates and bridging the disciplines of human rights, development and education
- real change in people’s lives comes from the mobilisation of local individuals and communities. RTE works as a catalyst for change, identifying and sharing new ideas and solutions and motivating people to work together to take action for themselves
- RTE values diversity and works in a global, multi-cultural, and inclusive environment
Current projects - 2016-2017
The role of private actors in education:
- development of Human Rights Guiding Principles on the obligations of States regarding private schools
- research project on the role of private actors in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Pakistan, exploring the links with declining public investment and the role of tax justice in providing solutions to the gaps generated by the privatisation of education.
Monitoring the right to education using indicators:
- monitoring girls' education in Tanzania
- development and review of RTE indicators
- steering Committee member of the ESCR-Net Monitoring Working Group
- member of the RTEI advisory group
The 2030 Education Agenda from a human rights perspective:
- development of a module on monitoring Education 2030 from a human rights perspective
- UNESCO background paper on human rights accountability and Education 2030
The right to education of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons:
- member of the INEE Advocacy Working Group
Information sharing and capacity building:
- maintenance of the website across four languages
- strenghtening an online community of practice on a rights-based approach to education through an online discussion forum and blog
- participating in civil society networks and coalitions aimed at ensuring the promoting and defending the right to education
- providing trainings, lectures, and presentations on the right to education and RTE’s priority areas on an ad hoc basis
Delphine Dorsi – Director
Delphine is a human rights lawyer with more than 10 years experience in the field of the right to education. She joined RTE in 2012 as legal and communication officer and has led the organisation since 2014. She previously worked at UNESCO for the Right to Education Programme for 4 years. She has also worked with a number of NGOs in Europe and Africa, including: Amnesty International, Save the Children and Defence for Children International. She holds a Master's in Human Rights from the University of Strasbourg.
Erica Murphy – Project officer
Erica has been right to education project officer since June 2015. She has been with RTE since March 2013, first as a legal research intern and then as a consultant. Previously she worked with a number of human rights organisations, including as communications officer at the Global Campaign for Education and a researcher at the Institute for Human Rights. Prior to this she spent two years teaching in Japan. The current focus of her work is monitoring the right to education. She holds a master’s in human rights from University College London (UCL).
Natalia Dzvelaia - Finance and administrative officer
Natalia joined RTE in September 2018 as finance and administrative officer. She previously worked for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) as finance coordinator. Prior to this Natalia was finance administrator for the Society of Genealogists (SOG). Natalia is ACCA part-qualified, holds a master's degree in teaching from State University of Tbilisi, and a postgraduate diploma in management studies from City of London College.
The executive board is RTE's governing body. It is composed of:
- David Archer, ActionAid
- Iain Byrne, Amnesty International
- Ayan Hassan, Financial Consultant
- Elin Martinez, Human Right Watch
- Anjela Taneja, Oxfam India
RTE benefits from high-level expertise from a network of advisers. Serving in an individual capacity, advisers provide specialist advice or feedback on specific areas of RTE’s work.
RTE’s advisers are:
Fons Coomans (Professor at Maastricht University, Faculty of Law and Chairholder of UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Peace)
Christian Courtis (Human Rights Officer at OHCHR in the Sustainable Development Goals Section)
Camilla Croso (General Coordinator of the Latin-American Campaign for the Right to Education and President of the Global Campaign for Education)
David Edwards (Deputy Secretary General of Education International)
Geoff Gilbert (Professor of International Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, School of Law and Human Rights Centre, University of Essex)
Chris Grove (ESCR-Net Executive Director)
Peter Hyll-Larsen (Education Rights in Emergencies Consultant)
Steven Klees (Professor of International Education Policy at University of Maryland)
Philippa Lei (Director of Programmes and Advocacy at Malala Fund)
Keith Lewin (Professor in International Education and Development at University of Sussex)
Simon McGrath (Professor at University of Nottingham, UNESCO Chair in the Political Economy of Education)
Angela Melchiorre (Independent Human Rights Consultant)
Mary Mendenhall (Assistant Professor of Practice, International and Comparative Education Programs, Teachers College, Columbia University)
Kate Moriarty (Independent Consultant on education, human rights and international development)
Albert Motivans (Head of Education Statistics at UNESCO Institute for Statistics)
Rolla Moumne (Programme Specialist, Right to Education Programme, UNESCO)
Vernor Muñoz (Head of Policy & Advocacy at Global Campaign for Education, Former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education)
Salima Namusobya (Executive Director of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights in Uganda, expert member of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural rights of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights)
Aoife Nolan (Professor of International Human Rights Law at University of Nottingham)
Rene Raya (Lead Policy Analyst at Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education)
Baela Raza Jamil (Director of Programme at at Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), Centre for Education and Consciousness)
Reefat Sabbah (Director of the Teacher Creativity Centre in Palestine and Chair of the Arab Coalition for Education for All)
Ignacio Saiz (Executive Director of the Centre for Economic and Social Rights)
Sheldon Shaeffer (Retired, former Chief of Education at UNICEF, New York, and Director of UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education)
Salim Vally (Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Director, Centre for Education Rights and Transformation, University of Johannesburg)
Toni Verger (Professor at Autonomous University of Barcelona)
From 2008-2017, RTE was hosted by ActionAid and supported by four other organisations: Amnesty International and Global Campaign for Education since 2008 and Save the Children and Human Rights Watch since 2012. These five organisations formed the RTE governing body. In May 2017, RTE became a registered charity under UK law and these five organisations remain key partners. Current RTE trustees are from each of these organisations and RTE continues to collaborate on specific projects with them.
RTE also works with a number of international and national partners, including:
- Comité syndical francophone de l’éducation et de la formation (CSFEF)
- Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
- Coalition Education
- The International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net)
- International Federation of CEMEA (FICEMEA)
- Global Campaign for Education (GCE)
- Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR)
- International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
- Initiative for Social and Economic Rights in Uganda (ISER-Uganda)
- International Organisation of Francophonie (OIF)
- Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam)
- Solidarité Laïque
The Right to Education Initiative has been able to fulfil its mission thanks to the financial and in-kind support received from:
- ActionAid International
- Open Society Foundations
- Paris Peace Forum
- a private donor
- the Rockefeller Foundation
From 2008-2017, RTE received in-kind support from key partner organisations that have helped to coordinate RTE’s work: ActionAid, Amnesty International, the Global Campaign for Education, Save the Children, and Human Rights Watch.
Other historical donors and financial partners include: the Marple Charitable Trust, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, Banyan Tree Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Amnesty International, UNESCO, PUSH, and an anonymous donor-advised fund.
RTE is grateful to all current and previous donors that have supported our work and allowed us to fulfil our mission.
We always need more support in order to fulfil our vision and mission. Please get in touch with us if you are interested in supporting our work.