This document considers the State's obligations, and how they translate in the context of economic, social and cultural Rights, including the right to education (derived from the four key principles of equality and non-discrimination; indivisibility and interdependence of rights; accountability; and participation); Responsibilities of Non-State Actors, including Companies; and, Amnesty International's Human Rights Principles Concerning Delivery of Essential Services.

 

This article discusses the privatisation of education from a human rights perspective. It focuses on what international human rights law in general, and the right to education in particular has to say with respect to the operation and consequences of privatisation in the area of education. The article reviews the content of the right to education and makes observations on the relationship between privatisation and violations of obligations resulting from the right to education. It provides a definition of the privatisation of education and an analysis of potential human rights issues.

This article explores the increasing privatisation of education. It examines various criticisms of the private provision of education and claims that privatisation is driven by an ideological agenda which is generally uncaring about any notion of the “public good” purposes of education — that is, of its role in producing social cohesion through the provision of education that is of high quality for all members of society.

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.

Over the past two decades, a set of globally converging discourses on lifelong learning (LLL) has emerged around the world. Driven mostly by inter-governmental organisations, these discourses have been largely embraced by national and local education systems seeking to reflect local traditions and priorities. This paper argues that these discourses tend to look remarkably alike, converging into a homogeneous rationale in which the economic dimension of education predominates over other dimensions of learning, and in which adaptation takes pre-eminence
over social transformation as a goal of LLL. It also shows how these converging discourses are embedded in the logic of the knowledge economy, driven by concern for human capital formation as dictated by the changing demands of the global labour market, and can neglect the learning needs and interests of local communities. The paper concludes that the globally converging discourse of LLL tends to serve the interests of the market ahead of those of the community, and argues that an alternative characterisation of LLL, anchored in social justice, is necessary in the light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and especially Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

According to international law, States have the principal responsibility ‘to ensure the direct provision of the right to education in most circumstances.  Although private education is allowed under international law, there are specific conditions and limitations under which private education must operate.  While empirical data about the effectiveness of public and private schools is needed to inform the debate on how to achieve quality education, there also needs to be criteria to assess the measures for determining ‘effectiveness’ and to define what models of private education are acceptable.

This paper identifies a set of criteria for assessing the conditions and limitations of private education drawing from human rights standards applicable to African States.  It explore criteria that examine the central role of the State, universal free primary education, progressively available secondary and higher education, the aims of education, non-discrimination, and regulation of private education providers.  An examination of these standards will provide an initial set of criteria for assessing the role of private education in Africa and a basis for further research.

 

This background paper, commissioned by the Education Commission to inform the report The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing worldaims to clarify the relevant provisions in human rights law that refer to the involvement of non-State actors in education in mixed education systems. Making reference to international human rights law, it analyses three cases studies (Pakistan, Chile, and community schools) selected to represent the wide variety of roles played by non-State providers in different geographical areas.

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

On 7 July 2014, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held a General Discussion on the Right to Education for Girls and Women, the aim of which is to commence the Committee’s process of elaborating a “General Recommendation on girls’/women’s right to education.”

Thirteen organizations from around the world, included the Right to Education Initiative, presented a written submission to CEDAW on ‘Privatization and its Impact on the Right to Education of Women and Girls,’ highlighting evidence from a range of countries showing that more boys are enrolled in schools than girls, a problem that is exacerbated by the increasing privatization of education.  Privatization in many cases deepens gender discrimination in education because already marginalized and vulnerable groups, including women and girls, are more disadvantaged by private provision and are the least able to pay for services.

It has recently been suggested that the age of human rights is over. The West, itself often not respecting human rights, is said to have abused the concept as a tool to retain control over the developing world. Human rights have remained a foreign construct in Africa, the Near East, and Asia. They have "underperformed," and the level of privation in many parts of the world is more intense than ever. This Article acknowledges elements of truth in these observations, but argues that the battle for human rights is not lost. Using the right to education in Africa as an example, three arguments will be presented to explain how human rights can regain their moral cogency and actually help change a world of misery for the better. First, human rights need to be "domesticized," made "home-grown" achievements with which local populations can identify. Regional human rights institutions need to give specificity to universal norms. These "locally-owned" norms must then be effectively enforced. Second, pure "development goal" approaches to reducing global poverty need to be debunked. Instead, a human rights approach needs to identify clear duty-bearers, including notably the World Bank, who, when they have failed to comply with specified duties, should be considered "human rights violators" and held accountable accordingly. Third, and perhaps most importantly, human rights must be recognized to give rise to extraterritorial state obligations. These are obligations of states, in appropriate circumstances, to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights of those beyond their own territory. The extraterritorial human rights obligations of states must structure bilateral development assistance and cooperation, the lending operations of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and free trade within and beyond the World Trade Organization (here, meaning the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights).