From humble beginnings in the early 1990s, charter schools have grown explosively to become a pillar in a market-oriented national education reform in the United States. The fiscal fallout from the financial crisis of 2007-08 constricted educational budgets and intensified the public debate around directing resources to all aspects of educational reform, especially charter schools.

The human right to education is well established in a variety of international treaties and covenants, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The right establishes the obligation of states to provide all young people with a quality education, as defined by the prevailing social and economic context of each country. Guidance provided by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, focuses attention on the acceptability, availability, adaptability and accessibility of education in every context.

The impact of charter school expansion on the ability of U.S. states to implement the right to education for all children has, to date, been little considered in the national debate around education reform. Given the diversity of the legal foundations of charter schools in the states, it is difficult to carry out such an analysis at the national level.

Despite the fact that its public education system is rated among the most effective in the country, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been the site of large-scale implementation of the charter school model. Prominent educational research institutes have analyzed Massachusetts charters and found them - especially the schools located in Boston - to be among the most successful in the country.

The experience of Massachusetts charter schools undoubtedly includes positive effects on the implementation of the right to education. A significant number of students who had difficulty accessing quality education in traditional public schools have been able to do so in charter schools. Many of those students are from racial or ethnic groups that have faced historic discrimination in U.S. public schools. In addition, charter schools are, by their nature, adaptations of the public education model and, therefore, increase the adaptability of the system.

At the same time, other aspects of the charter school model raise concerns from a human rights perspective, some of them serious concerns. The extreme school discipline models employed by some charters and the increased use of disciplinary exclusion to maintain social order in the schools both raise human rights concerns that go well beyond the right to education. Also, the existence of an “enrollment gap” between charter schools and traditional public schools, especially in relation to the enrollment of Students with Special Needs and English Language Learners is the source of further concern. Finally, the way in which charter schools are financed, in Massachusetts and in most other jurisdictions, gradually degrades the financial capacity of public school districts. This loss of financial capacity often leads to mass school closings or other major disruptions to the system. In districts with high charter density, this process can reach the point where the capacity of the district to provide for even the basic educational needs of all students comes into question.

Massachusetts and other states with relatively high charter density in urban centers should reinforce regulatory mechanisms in place to ensure the accountability of existing charter schools to legal and regulatory frameworks. In addition, legislative bodies considering laws to allow further expansion of charter schools should carefully consider the impacts of charter school growth on the human right to education of all children in their jurisdiction before enabling such expansion.

 

Oral statement made by the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on 8 June 2015, following a report submitted by GI-ESCR with the Sciences Po Law School Clinic and with the support of eight national, regional and international NGOs working on the right to education in Chile.

In this statement, GI-ESCR raises concerns with regards to the impact of the privatised education system in Chile on the rights protected under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

 

Parallel Report submitted by the National Campaign for Education-Nepal, the Nepal National Teachers Association (NNTA), the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other partners, including the Right to Education Project, on the occasion of the examination of the report of Nepal during the 72nd session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 

The report shows that the growth of unregulated private education in Nepal supported by the State, is creating and entrenching segregation in education, threatens access to education for girls and children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and is a cause of discrimination with regards to access to quality education. As pointed out recently by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), such segregation in itself constitutes a human rights violation and must be ended.2 Segregation is also the source of other human rights abuses, including discrimination on the grounds of socio-economic background, gender and caste, a limitation on the right to free quality education, and the lowering of education quality. This situation is extremely problematic because of the injustices it generates which threaten the fragile social cohesion and peace that exist in Nepal. If the situation remains the same, experience shows that the education system is bound to generate instability and protests in an already unstable country that is slowly trying to recover from conflict and humanitarian disaster.

Ceci est le document nº1 des 3 documents conçus pour présenter le récent travail de recherche et de plaidoyer mené par l’Initiative mondiale pour les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, en partenariat avec les organisations de la société civile dans 7 pays du monde, ainsi que l’Initiative sur la privatisation de la recherche dans l’éducation et le Right to Education Project. Le travail examine de façon critique les effets de la privatisation de l’éducation en utilisant des mécanismes des droits de l’homme. Les documents sont conçus pour servir d’introduction à ce travail et l’Initiative mondiale pour les droits économiques, sociaux et culturels peut apporter d’autres ressources, des informations et une aide à quiconque souhaiterait s’engager dans cette étude. 

Accéder au document n°2: Comment utiliser les mécanismes des droits de l’homme

Accéder au document n°3: Études de cas sur les rapports parallèles pour faire face à la privatisation de l’éducation

ENGLISH

The report focuses on the legal obligations of states and private entities to mobilise all resources at their disposal, including those that could be collected through taxation or prevention of illicit financial flows, to satisfy minimum essential levels of human rights and finds that states who facilitate or actively promote tax abuses, at the domestic or cross-border level, may be in violation of international human rights law.

The report is based on a detailed examination of UN treaty bodies and special procedures’ views on the current interpretation of the scope and content of this obligation to mobilise resources. Further, it is published against the backdrop of increased awareness of the relationship between economic policies and human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which committed all UN member states to ‘strengthen domestic resource mobilization, including through international support to developing countries, to improve domestic capacity for tax and other revenue collection’ and ‘significantly reduce illicit financial flows’.

This document compiles the national laws on private provision of education for most of the countries in the world.

Key resource

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.