Early childhood, defined as the period from birth to eight years old, is a crucial time for the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth of children. Access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE), therefore, can be vital in laying the foundations for children’s long-term development, well-being, learning, and health. Despite this, universal and equitable access to free, quality, and compulsory pre-primary education is one of the major education challenges. One out of two children does not receive pre-primary education. While access to quality pre-primary education is inadequate globally, the opportunities for pre-primary education are drastically restricted for migrant children. Significant inequalities exist between migrant and local-born children in terms of quality access to pre-primary education.
This brief focuses on some of the important issues related to young migrant children’s access to ECCE and pre-primary education, and the key challenges in the existing legal framework. It further proposes to strengthen the legal framework and policy development for the inclusion of ECCE in-migrant response strategies.
In 1995, the parents of an Indian pupil brought a case against University of Natal because her application to medical school was rejected despite the satisfactory results she obtained in her qualifying examinations. They claimed that the admission process was discriminatory because it did not consider all the applications equally, but set higher admission standards for Indian students and lower ones for African students. The parents argued that this is as a violation of ‘equal access to educational institution’ provision of the constitution as well as sections 8(1) and 8 (2) in regard to ‘setting a discriminatory practice’. The Court agreed that while Indian community had been decidedly disadvantaged by the apartheid system, African pupils were even more so. Accordingly, the Court held that a selection system which compensated for this discrepancy does not violate the provisions of sections 8(1) and 8(2) of the Constitution.
Higher education is part of the right to education, protected under international human rights law. This means that states have the obligation to protect respect and fulfil the right to higher education and that there are ways to hold them accountable for violations or deprivations of the right to higher education.
However, despite a comprehensive international legal framework ensuring the right to higher education without any discrimination and a wide political commitment to promote inclusion in higher education, important inequalities persist, both in terms of access to higher education and of access to the most socially rewarding degrees and programmes. Issues such as privatisation of higher education and rising tuition fees represent a threat to equal access and participation in higher education, especially in contexts where structural social inequalities - such as class, gender, or territorial inequalities - persevere. Moreover, certain groups - such as ethnic, racial, and religious minorities as well as migrants, refugees, or asylum seekers - are still widely underrepresented in higher education if compared to their proportion in the population as a whole.
These, and many other challenges regarding access and participation in higher education, can be brought to light when we carefully monitor the right to higher education. It is only by monitoring the right to higher education that adapted laws and policies which can address persistent inequalities and discriminations can be designed.
This guide proposes a human rights based approach to inequalities regarding students’ access to and participation in higher education. This guide is part of a series of thematic guidance notes providing practical advice on monitoring various aspects of the right to education from a human rights perspective.
This report shows how a student’s place of origin within France, that is, the region in which they live prior to the beginning of their studies, coupled with their socio-economic background can mean that the cost of education, which is heavily influenced by the structure of the French higher education system, poses a significant barrier to their enjoyment of the right to higher education.
This joint statement signed by RTE and 18 CSOs responds to a report published in September 2023 by the International Development Committee (IDC) of the UK House of Commons, entitled ‘Investment for development - The UK’s Strategy towards Development Finance Initiatives. The report’ raises major concerns about the UK’s investments as part of development aid which the signatory organisations working on education share and reiterate. In this joint statement we respond to this report and express our concern about the British International Investment’s (BII) activities and impacts in key sectors responsible for delivering human rights, including education and health.
School meals play a critical role in children’s lives. They are an essential intervention in development and humanitarian contexts, proven to have long-lasting impacts across multiple Sustainable Development Goals and sectors, including food security, nutrition and health, education, water and sanitation, child protection, gender equality, and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. They are at the juncture of the right to food, the right to health and the right to education. They also offer enormous potential for the catalysation of food systems, with nutritious, locally-grown and appropriate foods, creation of jobs and contributions towards livelihoods, among other benefits. Civil society organisations have an essential role to play in supporting school meals programmes globally through collective advocacy, technical assistance, capacity sharing and fostering partnerships.
This joint statement contains our calls to action for equitable access to healthy and nutritious, sustainably sourced school meals.