According to UNESCO, 264 million children and youth are still out of school around the world, and this is only accounting for the primary (61 million) and secondary school (203 million) age population. In particular, the poorest and most marginalised, including ethnic and religious minorities, persons with disabilities, girls, and populations experiencing conflict, are often systematically unable to access and complete a full cycle of quality education. The first volume of NORRAG Special Issue (NSI) is dedicated to examining international frameworks and national policy as well as the challenges of fulfilling the right to education in practice.
The inaugural issue of NSI on the Right to Education Movements and Policies: Promises and Realities aims to highlight the global and national level experience and perspective on guaranteeing the right to education, as outlined in international frameworks, national constitutions, legislation, and policy, when creating the required administrative structures to ensure that the right is respected, protected, and fulfilled for all.
The Issue is divided into six parts, each focusing on a specific theme of right to education policy and practice. The first part includes an article written by RTE staff on The Role of Court Decisions in the Realisation of the Right to Education, which draws on RTE's background paper on accountability for the GEM Report 2017-8.
In South Africa, SECTION27 has used rights-based strategies, including litigation, to hold the state accountable for not ensuring the procurement and delivery of textbooks to schools across Limpopo, a poor rural area of the country.
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.
Aimed at actively engaging parents, children, teachers, unions, communities and local civil society organisations in collectively monitoring and improving the quality of public education PRS offers a set of practical tools that can be used as a basis for mobilisation, advocacy and campaigning. The pack provides four key resources:
1) A charter of 10 rights which, when fulfilled, will enable all children to complete a good quality education;
2) A participatory methodology for: using the charter; collecting, analysing and using data; and consolidating information into ‘citizens reports’ that could be used for the development of Action Plans or to encourage discussions and reviews at local, district and national levels;
3) A series of education- and rights-based indicators organised in a survey format to enable users to capture information in a systematic manner;
4) A compilation of key international human rights references providing the foundations and legitimacy of the charter and reports
PRS builds on education and human rights frameworks to describe an ideal school that offers quality education. Its methodology supports links between programme work at the school level and advocacy and policy efforts in national and international forums. The process is as important as the outcome: it is only through engaging all stakeholders in the process - from developing the charter to collecting and analysing the data and debating the findings - that we will promote greater awareness of what needs to change and how.
There has been renewed and amplified interest in learning outcomes as a tool for improving quality of education – an issue of central focus in the Post-2015 discussions. There are numerous learning outcomes assessment tools and methodologies. However, missing from the debates is a human rights perspective. This briefing document, Learning Outcomes Assessments: A Human Rights Perspective, seeks to highlight the key human rights principles that should inform education policies on learning outcomes to ensure that these tools are used to promote quality education that develops the child’s personalities, talents, and abilities to live a full and satisfying life within society. It also provides recommendations to policy-makers to ensure that education policies on learning outcomes adhere to human rights standards.
In 2018, the international community will meet to adopt a new Global Compact on Refugees; a product of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants. The Compact promises that ‘all refugee children will be in school and learning within a few months of arrival’ and commits to ‘prioritise budgetary provision to facilitate this, including support for host countries as required’. The opportunity to advance this agenda is now. However, commitments without actionable plans do not deliver results.
The report ‘Time to act: a costed plan to deliver quality education to every last refugee child’ sets out a realistic, global plan to ensure refugee children get to go to school. Save the children challenges governments and international agencies to deliver on the promises they have made with practical action.