“Her Turn”, a new report from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, reveals that refugee girls at secondary level are only half as likely to enrol in school as their male peers, even though girls make up half of the school-age refugee population.
Access to education is a fundamental human right. Yet, for millions of women and girls among the world’s growing refugee population, education remains an aspiration, not a reality.
For all refugee children around the world, the school gates are a great deal harder to prise open than they are for their non-refugee peers. For refugee girls, it is even tougher to find – and keep – a place in the classroom. As they get older, refugee girls face more marginalization and the gender gap in secondary schools grows wider.
The report is available here http://www.unhcr.org/herturn/
Of the 57 million children worldwide without access to education, over one third lives in settings of conflict and fragility (UNESCO, 2015). The escalating crisis in Syria has contributed significantly to this out-of-school population, with well over half of 1.4 million Syrian refugee children and adolescents not in school (UNICEF, 2016). While education in emergencies has risen as a policy priority in the mandates of international organizations (Menashy and Dryden-Peterson, 2015), the share of total overseas development assistance to education has declined sharply in recent years, with funding persistently low in conflict-affected states (UNESCO, 2015; 2016). Within this context, private sector engagement in education has become increasingly appealing to a growing portion of the international community. Private actors have responded in turn, spurring new initiatives, funding commitments and partnership arrangements to advance the cause of educating refugee children. Such commitments are indicative of the growing role of private entities as both educational funders and providers in contexts of crisis. This study explores the complex interrelationship between conflict and private sector participation through a case study of the education of Syrian refugees. It is estimated that 900,000 Syrian refugee children and adolescents are not enrolled in school, with enrolment rates for Syrian refugees at only 70% in Jordan, 40% in Lebanon, and 39% in Turkey (UNHCR, 2016b). Although private engagement in this context is evidently expanding, the exact nature and scale of this involvement has been unclear. This research seeks to better understand which private entities are engaging in the sector, the activities through which private companies and foundations support education, and the rationales and motivations that drive their involvement.
In this action brought by a transgender student against the National Service of Education (SENA), the Constitutional Court defended the right to education and the free development of the person by ordering that the student be allowed to wear a male uniform, that he be treated in accordance with his identity as a transgender man, and that the SENA implement a plan that promotes the respect and free development of the person, particularly regarding expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation.
In this decision, the Court found that the right to education of a disabled child had been violated when the educational institution did not award an official certificate of completion for his secondary education, even after the student had met all the requirements of his personalised education project (proyecto pedagógico individual or PPI) because his PPI did not comply with the minimum requirements under local regulations. The Court concluded that people with disabilities have the right to an inclusive education on an equal basis with others, and this includes the right to have their capabilities and accomplishments certified under equal conditions. ‘Equal conditions’ does not necessarily mean identical requirements but rather, making reasonable adjustments to ensure that individuals are treated as equals. Namely, the Court explained that the plaintiff, having met the specific requirements of his PPI and having attended and passed 5 years of courses at the institution, had the same right as his classmates that had met the requirements imposed on them to receive a certificate.
The Supreme Court of Canada upheld a decision of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal (the ‘BC HRT’) (reversing the decisions of both the British Columbia Supreme Court and the British Columbia Court of Appeal) that the Board of Education of School District No. 44 (North Vancouver) (the ‘School District’), by closing a facility that provided intensive services and individualised assistance to students with severe learning disabilities, had denied a child with severe dyslexia access to a service customarily available to the public, being education, contrary to the British Columbia Human Rights Code (R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 210, s. 8). Although the School District was subject to severe funding constraints, it was found to have not acted with a bona fide and reasonable justification, which could have provided a defence to the Human Rights Code violation.
This case involves the interpretation of the scope of the constitutional right in South Africa to basic education and in particular whether the provision of school textbooks to all basic education learners for the whole academic year is an essential component of this right.
In these three related decisions, the Kansas Supreme Court held that legislative changes to K-12 school funding, which reduced state-aid payments augmenting funds generated through property taxation in school districts with lower property values, violated the Kansas constitution. Article 6 of the Kansas constitution has previously been interpreted by the Kansas Supreme Court to require equity and adequacy in the provision of financing for education. The Kansas Supreme Court found that the legislative changes violated the equity requirement because school districts did not have reasonably equal access to substantially equal educational opportunity through similar tax efforts.
This paper firstly sets out the legal and political frameworks on gender equality in education to which states have committed and then describes how they have committed.
In the second section, the content of states’ commitments to achieve gender equality in education is explained, including the normative content of relevant provisions found in international and regional human rights treaties and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This section also includes a classification of states according to what legal commitments to women and girls’ right to education they have made.
The final section details how states can be held accountable for failure to meet their legal commitments to gender equality in education, including what mechanisms are available and examples of how these mechanisms have been used to hold states accountable.
General comment No. 20: Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2, para. 2, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)
The report focuses on the promotion of equality of opportunity in education. Ensuring equality of opportunity in education is an overarching principle that is reflected in core human rights treaties. States have the duty to adopt measures to eradicate discrimination and ensure equal access for all to education. The promotion of equality of opportunity in education both in law and in fact is an ongoing challenge for all States, and one that requires not only the elimination of discriminatory practices, but also the adoption of temporary special measures to bring about equality in fact with regard to education. The report first details core human rights standards provisions which establish the obligation to promote equal opportunities in education. It subsequently describes different sources of inequalities and different types of initiatives to address them. It concludes by formulating recommendations based on human rights standards.