The right to education is guaranteed in Inter-American 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 Charter of the Organization of American States (1948) promotes social justice in inter-American relations and the integral development of all people as a means to achieving lasting peace and security. It pledges equality of opportunity and the rapid eradication of illiteracy and expansion of educational opportunities for all. According to Article 49, states have to ensure the effective exercise of the right to education, including free compulsory elementary education. Article 50 refers to the special attention to be given to the eradication of illiteracy.

  • Adoption: 30 April 1948
  • Entry into force: 13 December 1951
  • Ratifications35
  • Interpretation: no
  • Monitoring mechanism: no
  • Complaint mechanism: no


The Protocol of San Salvador (1988) guarantees the right to education in Article 13. It defines the aims of education and provides that primary education should be compulsory and accessible to all without cost; secondary education (including technical and vocational secondary education) as well as higher education should be made generally available and accessible to all by the progressive introduction of free education. It prescribes for life-long learning and special education. It also recognises the right of parents to choose the type of education they want for their children and the freedom to establish educational institutions. Article 16 reiterates the right to education of every child, particularly free and compulsory elementary education.

  • Adoption: 17 November 1988
  • Entry into force: 16 November 1999
  • Ratifications: 16
  • Interpretation: There is no general interpretation on the right to education, but the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court have interpreted this right through its case-law
  • Monitoring mechanism: yes (Article 19 of the Protocol)
  • Complaint mechanism: yes, through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights