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.

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. 

More than 40 percent of Tanzania’s adolescents are left out of quality lower-secondary education despite the government’s positive decision to make lower-secondary education free.

This report examines obstacles, including some rooted in outmoded government policies, that prevent more than 1.5 million adolescents from attending secondary school and cause many students to drop out because of poor quality education. The problems include a lack of secondary schools in rural areas, an exam that limits access to secondary school, and a discriminatory government policy to expel pregnant or married girls.

For a summary, see here.

For an esay to read version, in English, see here.