The COVID-19 pandemic and the responses of States thereto have had a very significant impact on the enjoyment of a wide range of social rights. The Council of Europe’s European Social Charter provides a framework for the measures that must be taken by States Parties to cope with the pandemic as it unfolds. The treaty also provides a necessary framework for the post-pandemic social and economic recovery as well as for preparation for and responses to possible future crises of this nature.
With the present statement the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) aims to highlight those Charter rights that are particularly engaged by the COVID-19 crisis. (It does not address the right to protection of health under Article 11 of the Charter, which was the subject of a separate statement adopted in April 20201 ). The statement provides guidance to States Parties, organisations of workers and employers, civil society and other key stakeholders by clarifying certain aspects of the Charter rights in question as they apply in the current crisis.
In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones. However, shortcomings in public education often arise not from lack of capacity, but lack of political will.
This review of examples of public education in low- and middle-income countries shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated (and empirically unvalidated) ideas, public education can be highly effective, efficient and transformative and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere.
In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones. However, shortcomings in public education often arise not from lack of capacity, but lack of political will.
This review of examples of public education in low- and middle-income countries shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated (and empirically unvalidated) ideas, public education can be highly effective, efficient, and transformative and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere.
Public education is often critiqued as ineffective and inefficient. However, where shortcomings in public education are identified, they can often be attributed not to lack of capacity, but lack of political will. Reviewing seven examples of public education in developing countries, this research shows that, in direct contrast to widely disseminated ideas, public education can be the most effective, efficient, and transformative approach to education, and, crucially, it is possible to develop quality public education everywhere.
The ten rights defined in this PRS framework describe what should be included in the approach of an ‘ideal’ school that offers quality inclusive public education and supports our work to secure and strengthen free, compulsory inclusive quality public education for all.
This collaborative approach between ActionAid and the Right to Education Initiative aims to secure free, compulsory, quality public education for all.
This is version two of the framework replacing the first version produced in 2011.
One of the most serious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the disruption of children’s education worldwide with the closure of schools for public health reasons. Projections from UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that nearly 100 million children across eight age cohorts would move below the minimum proficiency threshold in reading in 2020 due to the pandemic (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2021). Both current studies and experience of school closures due to previous similar crises, such as the Ebola epidemic, show that COVID-19 closures risk exacerbating vulnerabilities for those who are already disadvantaged (Azevedo et al., 2021). This includes lack of access to the vital nutrition provided by school nutrition programs (Borkowski et al., 2021); exposure to violence at home; early marriages and pregnancies for girl children (De Paz et al., 2020); lack of social interaction (Larsen et al., 2021); and deepening inequalities for those without access to the Internet (United Nations Children’s Fund & International Telecommunication Union, 2020).
The efficient design and delivery of early childhood policies and services are critical to ensuring long-term learning opportunities and improved learning, behaviour, employment, and health outcomes amongst individuals. Research in neuroscience, developmental psychology and cognitive science has revealed that quality early childhood education, supportive communities and a positive family environment serve as important building blocks to promote healthy development amongst infants and toddlers.
The World Health Organization identified the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and by February 2021, two-thirds of LMICs were reported to have reduced their public education budgets (Education Finance Watch Report, 2021). Although many challenges to achieving full access to quality early childhood services existed before the pandemic, this finding dramatically reveals how the pandemic threatens to erode hard won gains already achieved for children and families, and could continue to have exceedingly negative impacts on child development, early learning, family well-being and all types of early childhood services.
The Global Partnership Strategy (GPS) for Early Childhood was created to counter this negative trend in education and to overcome the reduction and closure of services for health, nutrition, sanitation, and child protection in all world regions. Well designed and implemented policies and services for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and Early Childhood Development (ECD) enable all countries to protect and guarantee child rights, achieve high rates of return on their investments in child and family development and widen avenues for transforming societies and lives.
Quality education is fundamental to sustainable development. Education is the one of the most powerful tools by which people can lift themselves out of poverty and fully participate in their communities. SDG 4 sets specific targets to address the challenges of achieving quality education universally, and provides a comprehensive framework to reaching inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Beyond enrolment rates, SDG 4 puts a welcomed emphasis on quality education and learning outcomes. This Guide takes a deep dive into how the law can play a large role in achieving SDG 4.
In the present report, submitted pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 8/4 and 44/3, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education addresses the risks and opportunities of the digitalization of education and their impact on the right to education.
The Special Rapporteur calls for discussions relating to the introduction of digital technologies in education to be framed around the right of every person to free, quality, public education and the commitments of States in this regard under both international human rights law and Sustainable Development Goal 4.
In particular, the implementation of the right to education must respond to the needs of all persons to access, master and use technology as an empowering tool for being active members of society. The digitalization of education should be geared towards a better implementation of the right to education for all, where it is demonstrated that it brings a significant added value. In this regard, it is important to understand the profit-driven agenda of digital technology lobbyists and companies. In addition, the digitalization of education should not increase inequalities and benefit already privileged segments of societies only or lead to violations of other human rights within education, in particular the right to privacy.
50th session of the Human Rights Council
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education on her report on impacts of digitalisation on the right to education. Oral Statement by the Global initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE).