This comprehensive report presents the results of the Ninth Consultation of UNESCO’s Member States on the implementation of UNESCO’s Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education. Launched in 2016, this consultation involved 67 UNESCO Member States. The information contained in the national reports generally provides an extremely valuable resource for research and analysis, experience-and knowledge-sharing, and ultimately advocacy.

An interesting finding of the report is that countries seized on this periodic reporting exercise as a valuable opportunity to outline the challenges they face and to take stock of progress and reflect on how to overcome difficulties. The report highlights that the challenges are often crosscutting and intersectoral, making them more difficult to address.

In particular, the report points out serious challenges with regard to equity and inclusion. Socio-economic factors, poverty, ethnicity, location and gender account for significant patterns of discrimination and exclusion in education. Persistent harmful practices and attitudes stand in the way of many children and adults and deprive them of meaningful educational opportunities.

Difficulties relating to the quality of education were equally widely shared by countries, along with budgetary constraints and sometimes lack of governance, coordination and monitoring capacities.

The report also exemplifies the various measures adopted at the national level to ensure that education is provided to all in a discrimination-free environment. The report notably shares the positive measures reported by countries to guarantee inclusion in education, notably for girls and women, refugees, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, which is critical to advance SDG4.

In 2018, the international community will meet to adopt a new Global Compact on Refugees; a product of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Compact promises that ‘all refugee children will be in school and learning within a few months of arrival’ and commits to ‘prioritise budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries as required’. The opportunity to advance this agenda is now. However, commitments without actionable plans do not deliver results.  

The report ‘Time to act: a costed plan to deliver quality education to every last refugee child’ sets out a realistic, global plan to ensure refugee children get to go to school. Save the children challenges governments and international agencies to deliver on the promises they have made with practical action.

In this present report, the Special Rapporteur considers ways in which the right to education contributes to the prevention of atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations. Stressing that education has a key role to play at all stages of prevention, the Special Rapporteur underlines the particularly forceful preventive potential of the right to education in the very early stages, before warning signs are apparent. That role is to be linked with the aims of education and the right to inclusive and equitable quality education, as established in international instruments.
 
Peace, acceptance of the “other”, respect for cultural diversity, the participation of all in the development of society and an education that is adequate and adapted to the specific needs of people in their own context are objectives of education that have been widely recognized by States and in human rights mechanisms at the international and regional levels. However, education is not afforded the importance or the funding it deserves and needs in order to play those roles.
 
The Special Rapporteur, highlighting circumstances under which schools can become tools for division and lay the groundwork for future violent conflicts, focuses on a number of steps regarding the organization of school systems, pedagogy and the values and skills to be transmitted to learners that are crucial in terms of prevention. She proposes an education framework (known in English as the “ABCDE framework”) that encompasses the interrelated features of education needed in order for the preventive potential of the right to education to be fully deployed. Namely, education should promote acceptance of self and others; a sense of belonging to society; critical thinking; diversity; and the capacity of learners to feel empathy for others. The right to inclusive and equitable quality education must be taken seriously and be prioritized if States and other stakeholders are serious in their commitment to prevent violent conflicts, atrocity crimes and mass or grave human rights violations

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