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 (Chair), Head of Civic Participation, Tax Justice and Public Services at ActionAid
David Archer is Head of Programme Development at ActionAid which supports human rights based approaches to development across 45 countries. He manages teams on land rights, food rights, women’s rights, democratic governance and youth mobilisation but his main experience is around education rights. He provides day to day management and oversight of the Right to Education Project.
In the 1980s he worked on literacy programmes across Latin America inspired by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire (publishing "Literacy and Power: the Latin American Battleground” Earthscan 1990). In the 1990s he developed the Reflect approach to adult learning, co-authoring “The Reflect Mother Manual” (1996) and “Communication and Power” (2003) (see www.reflect-action.org) an approach which has won 5 United Nations International Literacy Prizes over the past decade.
Since 1998 David has worked on rights-based approaches to education and the building of civil society coalitions on education across Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is a co-founder and international board member of the Global Campaign for Education. He chaired the Commonwealth Education Fund (2002-2008) and is also the elected civil society member on the board of the Global Partnership for Education.
David worked with the founder of the Right to Education project, Katarina Tomasevski – the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education and agreed to host the project, working with Amnesty International and GCE when Katarina passed away.
Iain Byrne, Head of the Refugee and Migrants rights team and Deputy Programme Director (ag.) in the Global Issues Programme (GIP) at Amnesty International
Iain Byrne is an international human rights lawyer with over 25 years of experience of working in the field including litigating before a range of international and regional human rights courts and bodies. He has been with the International Secretariat of Amnesty International for nearly nine years carrying out various roles including five and half years as a manager of various teams. He is currently Head of the Refugee and Migrants rights team and Deputy Programme Director (ag.) in the Global Issues Programme (GIP). Since November 2011 he has been a Researcher and Law and Policy Advisor in the Economic and Social Justice (previously Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR)) team conducting and advising on various pieces of ESCR research, most notably segregated education and housing of the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe and the state of education in South Africa. Amnesty International’s Roma work was recognised in 2016 when it was awarded the Council of Europe’s European Civil Rights Prize of the Sinti and Roma. He is a Special Advisor on Strategic Litigation and member of Amnesty International’s Litigation Committee. He has been Head of the ESCR team (2013-2017) and GIP DPD (ag.) and Director of the Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme (ag.) in the Law and Policy Directorate. In all three management roles he has managed a range of research outputs including for major Global Campaigns.
From September 2001 until November 2011 he held various positions at INTERIGHTS, the international centre for the legal protection of human rights, including Legal Practice Director (ag.) and Senior Lawyer playing a key role in developing the organisation’s work on economic and social rights including litigation and capacity building. Since 2000 he has been a Fellow of the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex.
He has sat on numerous NGO boards and advisory groups. He is currently a trustee of the Right to Education Initiative and International Justice Resource Centre and also served as the latter’s founding Chair from 2009 until January 2018. He has previously been involved in the governance of a number of civil society networks including the Steering Committee of the Privatization of Education and Human Rights Consortium; the Executive Committee of the Euro-Med Human Rights Network, participating in the first international mission to Israel and the Occupied Territories during the second intifada and the Consortium for Street Children’s executive board as well as member of Open Society Foundation’s public health programme technical advisory committee.
Dina Hashem, Associate Director for Global Partnerships at Habitat for Humanity International
Dina Hashem works as Associate Director for Global Partnerships at Habitat for Humanity International responsible for leveraging complex funding primarily through foundations and institutional partnerships for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region to meet global fiscal revenue, impact and scale goals.
Ms. Hashem has an MSc in Violence, Conflict and Development from SOAS, University of London. She also undertook a Communicative Arabic Diploma at SOAS to enrich and develop her formal Arabic skills. Ms. Hashem’s professional career in the international humanitarian and development sector spans more than 17 years. She has successfully developed strategic partnerships including consortium and institutional grants capacity for Finn Church Aid, Overseas Development Institute and Plan International from policy influencing initiatives for humanitarian policymakers to rights based approaches including right to quality education, peace and livelihoods. Dina was deployed to Jordan for two years to provide surge direction and active support to secure the potential of larger, stronger and more fundable programmes for the region including Syria refugee response and development programming in Palestine from education in emergencies to peacebuilding initiatives. Her expertise is in designing, developing, embedding the tools and processes to diversify partnerships with institutional donors to strengthen scalable quality programming across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Ayan Hassan (Treasurer), Program Finance Manager at War Child UK
Ayan works as a controller at the European Council on Foreign relation, in charge of annual budget and forecast, project budget, financial systems, monthly reports and financial guides and staff training. Prior on joining ECFR, she worked with MuslimAid and ActionAid in different capacities mainly providing strategic financial leadership, guidance and technical support as well as ensuring compliance with global standards, systems and processes as well as donors’ rules on financial management. She also worked with United Nations World Food Programme and United Nation World Health Organisation Somalia programmes for several years. In January 2019, she has started a new position as Program Finance Manager at War Child UK. Ayan is qualified accountant (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountant) and holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from the University of East London.
Elin Martinez, Researcher at Human Rights Watch
Elin Martinez focuses on the right to education and child rights at Human Rights Watch, as a Researcher within the organization’s Child Rights Division. Prior to joining HRW, she was a Senior Advocacy and Policy Advisor on Education at Save the Children and focused on global and local advocacy on education in emergencies, protecting education from attack and marginalization within education, among other barriers to education. She has also worked with the Global Partnership for Education in Washington, advancing the Partnership’s focus on the post-2015 agenda, in favour of the poorest countries and most marginalized children. Prior to focusing on global advocacy, she worked with Franciscans International, a faith-based organization, to build and support grassroots-led human rights advocacy with governments and UN human rights mechanisms; as well as with refugees and asylum seekers in the United Kingdom. Elin holds an LLB in International, European and Comparative Law from the University of Sheffield, as well as an LLM in International Criminal Justice and Armed Conflict from the University of Nottingham.
Bharti Patel, Child Rights and Social Justice Advocate
Bharti Patel is an accomplished and dedicated Human Rights and Social Justice campaigner. She has over 20 years experience addressing human rights abuses, leading high-profile research, campaigning and working with advocacy organizations in the UK and India. She served as CEO of ECPAT UK for six years until March 2019. ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights charity that campaigns against child trafficking and transnational child exploitation. Bharti’s passion to challenge the root causes of child exploitation and abuse underpins her leadership. She has overseen important changes to law and policy regarding child protection and trafficking prevention; successfully lobbying for Britain’s first-ever national minimum wage legislation. In India, she delivered sustainable development programs to strengthen food, water, and livelihood security for vulnerable communities. An accomplished speaker, Bharti has been featured widely in the British print and broadcast media and is regularly quoted in articles on child rights, poverty, inequality.
Nikki Skipper, Head of Fundraising at The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust
Nikki has over 20 years’ experience of fundraising in international development and environmental organisations. She has worked in leadership roles at Right To Play (RTP) UK, WWF, Sightsavers and WaterAid, developing transformative partnerships with individuals, corporates and foundations. RTP is an education charity, recognised for its tried and tested approach to empowering children and young people through sport and play. As National Director of RTP she worked closely with Trustees to ensure the charity was compliant with regulation, policy and governance requirements. Nikki also put in place a new supporting Committee structure to bring expertise and new networks for RTP’s communications and fundraising strategies. With the Finance and Audit Committee she was responsible for managing the organisation’s risk register and annual audit, so has hands-on practical experience of what keeps a charity focussed, effective and accountable. She currently leads fundraising at the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, supporting young people who are taking social action in their communities, including in the areas of education and human rights.
Nikki is an Institute of Fundraising Mentor and believes passionately in supporting and empowering young people to make a difference. She has a B.A.(Hons) in German, Politics and Philosophy and a B.Sc.(Hons) in Environmental Science.
Anjela Taneja, Campaign Lead Inequality/Lead for the Public Services at Oxfam India
Anjela Taneja is an education specialist with 20 years of experience with specialization in education governance. She is currently the Campaign Lead Inequality/Lead for the Public Services work of Oxfam India. She has been the Head of Policy for the Global Campaign for Education. Prior to this, she worked for ActionAid and Oxfam and was the Oxfam International southern education lead. She is also one of the founding members of the Right to Education Forum, India's largest education network. She has a comprehensive experience of global, regional, national, and local education advocacy, programming, and monitoring and evaluation. She has written numbers of papers and reports, including Time to Get it Right: Lessons from EFA and the MDGs for Education 2016-2030, Private Profit, Public Loss: why the push for low-fee private schools is throwing quality education off track and Federalism and Fidelity: A Review of the provisions under the Model and State Rules under The RTE Act 2009. She represented GCE in several advocacy spaces including UNESCO’s Teacher Task Force for Education 2030 Steering Committee and the INEE Advocacy Working Group and has worked globally with full range of non-state education actors and relevant UN and interagency bodies active on education. She actively took part in the negotiations for the shaping of the SDG agenda, was part of the selection committee for the SDG summit, was selected to take part in the IAEG meetings on behalf of the education CSO community and wrote a briefing guiding education civil society participation in the Voluntary National Reviews for the SDGs.
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.