The Danish Institute for Human Rights has developed a human rights guide to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The guide goes through all 17 goals and 169 targets to uncover their human rights anchorage, as well as the underlying indicators' human rights adequacy.

This document details the human rights standards for goal four, the education goal, as well as the standards related to the targets.

The guide enables actors to use human rights as a driver for realising the SDGs – and to use the SDGs to realise human rights.

Useful insights for all relevant stakeholders

The guide provides useful insights for governments, UN agencies, National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs. Rights-holders directly addressed in the SDGs eg, women, persons with disabilities, youth, workers, indigenous peoples and business will also find helpful insights.

The guide helps:

  • States to incorporate the SDGs in their human rights reporting
  • To choose the right indicators for the SDG targets
  • To influence national-level implementation strategies and follow-up and review processes
  • To build capacity of NHRIs, major groups, business and others to lead a human rights-based approach to the realisation of SDGs.

How the guide works

The guide is meant as a reference work, where you can look up the human rights implication of a given goal, target or indicator.

UNESCO together with UNICEF, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women and UNHCR organised the World Education Forum 2015 in Incheon, Republic of Korea, from 19 – 22 May 2015, hosted by the Republic of Korea. Over 1,600 participants from 160 countries, including over 120 Ministers, heads and members of delegations, heads of agencies and officials of multilateral and bilateral organisations, and representatives of civil society, the teaching profession, youth and the private sector, adopted the Incheon Declaration for Education 2030, which sets out a new vision for education for the next fifteen years.

Este informe se presenta de conformidad con las resoluciones 8/4 y 17/3 del Consejo de Derechos Humanos. En él se destacan los avances recientes relacionados con la agenda para el desarrollo después de 2015, prestando especial atención a un enfoque de la educación basado en los derechos humanos. El Relator Especial aporta perspectivas sobre los objetivos de la educación y recomienda estrategias de aplicación.

El informe considera la educación como la base de la agenda para el desarrollo después de 2015 y presenta las opiniones y recomendaciones del Relator Especial sobre métodos para aplicar de manera práctica un enfoque basado en los derechos humanos a los objetivos de desarrollo relacionados con la educación.

[ENGLISH]

This report was submitted to the General Assembly in September 2013. It highlights recent developments with respect to the post-2015 development agenda focusing on a rights-based approach to education. The Special Rapporteur provides perspectives on education goals with recommended implementation strategies. Considering education as the foundation of the post-2015 development agenda, the report presents the views and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on way to operationalize a rights-based approach to the education development goals.

[ESPAÑOL]

Like all human rights, the right to education imposes three levels of obligations on States parties: the obligations to respect, protect and fulfi ll. In turn, the obligation to fulfi ll incorporates both an obligation to facilitate and an obligation to provide. It is incumbent upon States to incorporate into domestic legal order their obligations under conventions and treaties established by the United Nations and UNESCO and to give effect to these in national policies and programmes. In order to achieve Education For All, it is imperative to intensify UNESCO’s normative action and monitor more effectively the right to education.

"Achieving the right to education for all is one of the biggest challenges of our times. The second International Development Goal addresses this challenge: universalizing primary education in all countries by 2015. This is also one of the main objectives set at the World Education Forum (April 2000), where the right to basic education for all was reaffirmed as a fundamental human right.

The fundamental question is how the obligations relating to the right to education undertaken by Member States under international and regional instruments are incorporated into national legal systems? This is all the more important for achieving the Dakar goals, in keeping with the commitments made by Governments for providing education for all, especially free and compulsory quality basic education. But in spite of such legal obligations and political commitments, millions of children still remain deprived of educational opportunities, many of them on account of poverty. They must have access to basic education as of right, in particular to primary education which must be free. Poverty must not be a hindrance and the claim by the poor to such education must be recognized and reinforced."

Across the world, more than 120 million children and adolescents are absent from class.

In recent years, many countries have been part of international and regional political drives to ensure that all children have access and complete education in the countries that lag behind the most. Such efforts have had some success, with tens of millions entering primary education, and more girls staying in school and pursuing secondary education, improving gender parity in more countries.

Yet despite these and other advances, warnings sounded by the UN and global policy experts indicate that the global progress in education has “left behind” millions of children and young people. More children and adolescents are at risk of dropping out of school, and many are at school facing unsuitable learning conditions.

Behind this failure stands governments, which bear responsibility for ensuring that no child or young person is without education, and lack of focus—both in implementation and in content—in development agendas on governments’ human rights obligations.

This has resulted in an “education deficit”—a shortfall between the educational reality that children experience around the world and what governments have promised and committed to through human rights treaties. This not only undermines the fundamental human right to education, but has real and dire consequences for global development, and entire generations of children.

The benefits of education to both children and broader society could not be clearer. Education can break generational cycles of poverty by enabling children to gain the life skills and knowledge needed to cope with today’s challenges. Education is strongly linked to concrete improvements in health and nutrition, improving children’s very chances for survival. Education empowers children to be full and active participants in society, able to exercise their rights and engage in civil and political life. Education is also a powerful protection factor: children who are in school are less likely to come into conflict with the law and much less vulnerable to rampant forms of child exploitation, including child labor, trafficking, and recruitment into armed groups and forces.

196 member states have adopted legal obligations towards all children in their territories, and countries that ratify specific international and regional conventions are legally bound to protect the right to education and to follow detailed parameters as to how to do so.

Based on research in over 40 countries, this report looks at the key barriers that threaten the right to education today, and the key ways that governments are failing to deliver on core aspects of their right to education obligations. These include ensuring that primary school education is free and compulsory and that secondary education is progressively free and accessible to all children; reducing costs related to education, such as transport; ensuring that schools are free of discrimination, including based on gender, race, and disability; and ensuring schools are free of violence and sexual abuse. It also looks at the main violations and abuses keeping children out of school, including those that occur in global crises, armed conflict—particularly when education is attacked by armed groups,—and forced displacement.

This report finds that many of the same governments that have signed on to development agendas and form part of global partnerships—including among the 16 champion countries that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed in September 2012 to “lead by example”to promote education globally—are those that are also failing many of their school-aged children.

In the new era of sustainable development, where all countries are expected to implement a universal development agenda, all governments need to be held to account for ongoing human rights abuses affecting a significant part of their young population, as well as a failure to provide adequate or timely protections to which children are entitled under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries have promised to achieve universal completion of primary and secondary education by 2030. This paper, jointly released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, illustrates the magnitude of this challenge. Globally, 263 million children, adolescents and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 are currently out of school, according to a new set of UIS indicators. A key obstacle to achieving the target is persistent disparities in education participation linked to sex, location and wealth, especially at the secondary level. Selected policy responses to promote enrolment in secondary education are reviewed. 

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