The right to education is guaranteed in African human rights instruments. Key information is provided for each instrument listed below.

For a more complete overview of international and regional legal instruments that guarantee the right to education, see International Instruments - The Right to Education 

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981) is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms on the African continent. It contains a brief right to education provision (Article 17), together with an overarching prohibition on discrimination (Article 2). Article 25 provides for human rights education.

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990) sets out a much broader and more comprehensive right to education than that provided for in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (1981). Article 11 states that every child shall have the right to an education and prescribes measures that states must undertake as part of their efforts to achieve the full realisation of this right, including regarding school discipline and pregnant girls. It defines the aims of education and recognises the right of parents to choose the kind of education they want for their children in conformity with their religious and moral convictions.

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003) aims to eliminate discrimination against women and to ensure the protection of the rights of women as stipulated in international declarations and conventions. Article 12 provides for their right to education and training on the basis of the principles of non-discrimination and equal opportunity. It calls for the elimination of all stereotypes and the integration of gender sensitisation at all levels of education curricula. It refers to their protection against sexual harassment. It also recognises the need for specific positive action including promotion of literacy amongst women.

The African Youth Charter (2006) is the first legal framework in Africa to support national policies, programmes and action in favour of youth development. It refers to the rights, freedoms and duties of young people in Africa, including the right to education. Article 13 recognises the right of every young person to education of good quality. It refers to multiple forms of education including non-formal and informal. It defines the aims of education and establishes states’ obligations. It also provides for gender equality and the use of African languages in teaching (Article 20).

  • Adoption: 2 July 2006
  • Entry into force: 8 August 2009
  • Ratifications: 40
  • Interpretation: no
  • Monitoring mechanism: no
  • Complaint mechanism: no