Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. Important steps have also been taken with regard to gender parity and states have made efforts to raise the quality of education through improved teacher policies and a growing emphasis on learning outcomes.
Despite these efforts, breaches of the right to education persist worldwide, illustrated perhaps most starkly by the fact that 262 million primary and secondary-aged children and youth are still out of school. Girls, persons with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or rural areas, indigenous persons, migrants and national minorities are among those who face the worst discrimination, affecting both their right to go to school and their rights within schools.
To respond to the challenges, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) with UNESCO have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal.
This background paper prepared for the Global Education Monitoring Report on non-States' actors in education: Who chooses? Who looses? provides both the rationale and the framework for re-centring a human rights’ perspective in education sector analysis. It draws on international human rights law as specified in the recently adopted Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education, a landmark text for the interpretation of the right to education, in particular in the context of growing privatisation in and of education. The paper outlines how to use the Abidjan Principles to develop a tool to measure if and how States are implementing and individuals are enjoying those rights, with a specific focus on the role of non-State actors. We find that reframing education analysis through a human rights lens provides a sharp contrast to the narrow view of education as a human capital generator. Using the human rights framework of structures, processes, and outcomes, we not only detail questions which can guide future research and advocacy, but also demonstrate its use in evaluating data availability and sector plans in the United States and Côte D’Ivoire and re-evaluating existing conclusions from “The Role and Impact of Private Schools in Developing Countries” (Day Ashley et al., 2014).