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This paper is the Right to Education Initiative’s contribution to the on-going discussions to refine the formulation of the post-2015 education goal and targets and to identify related indicators to measure progress towards them. This paper argues that there is a need to introduce a human rights perspective to the post-2015 agenda and furthermore that right to education indicators can give a fuller account of the progress made by States towards achieving the post-2015 goals. Before proposing specific indicators to measure the post-2015 education goal and targets (VI), the paper underlines the importance of linking the post-2015 education agenda to the right to education (II), and demonstrates how the post-2015 education goal and targets are linked to the content of the right to education (III) and extant State obligations (IV). This paper then reflects on the added value and limitations of applying right to education indicators (V).

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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.