Part of a law which allowed the Colombian government to charge for primary education was deemed unconstitutional after a pair of Colombian lawyers, collaborating with the law faculty at New York’s Cornell University and a coalition of civil society organisations, brought a direct challenge against its discriminatory provisions.
In this decision, the eighth chamber of review of the Constitutional Court of Colombia found that the State had violated the fundamental rights to education and equality of four children who lived outside the urban centre by not providing transportation to the closest secondary education institution.
In this action brought by a transgender student against the National Service of Education (SENA), the Constitutional Court defended the right to education and the free development of the person by ordering that the student be allowed to wear a male uniform, that he be treated in accordance with his identity as a transgender man, and that the SENA implement a plan that promotes the respect and free development of the person, particularly regarding expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation.
In this case, petitioners supported by the Colombian Coalition for the Right to Education filed a claim with the Constitutional Court of Colombia challenging a provision in the General Education Law (Law No. 115 of 1994), which allowed the government to impose fees for primary education. The Constitutional Court found that the provision of law that allowed the charging of fees for primary education was unenforceable and in violation of the Colombian Constitution and international human rights treaties. This decision reaffirmed that Colombian laws must be interpreted in light of the provisions of international human rights treaties, which have a superior standing. The decision also confirmed the fundamental nature of the right to free primary education.
This is a background paper prepared for the International Forum on inclusion and equity in education – every learner matters, held in Cali, Colombia in September 2019. Its objectives are to outline the rationale for working on inclusive early childhood care and education (ECCE) for the promotion of inclusion and equity, and to analyse the trends, achievements and challenges concerning inclusive ECCE.