This online library provides resources from the Right to Education Project as well as from other partner organisations. You can filter relevant resources by topic, region, country, content type and language. Note that resources in other languages will be available soon.
See also our list of useful databases for information on the implementation of the right to education at national level.
In 2009, India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, which provides for free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14. However, the evidence presented in this report indicates that despite the 3 year deadline to implement the key provisions of the Act, it has yet to be adequately implemented.
This lack of implementation, enforcement and monitoring particularly affects children from marginalised groups, such as children with disabilities, girls, and Da lits. Children from these groups are excluded and discriminated against, affecting access, participation, retention, achievement, and completion of elementary education.
This report examines the obstacles preventing certain children from attending school and the government’s failure to take the steps necessary to address the problem.
This publication includes an overview of key right to education decisions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the European Court of Human Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the UN Human Rights Committee. They are judgments that have taken place in these courts from 1988 to 2014 and deal with the fulfilment of the right to education for various groups, such as people with disabilities, migrants, persons deprived of liberty and Indigenous Peoples.
The Summaries of Jurisprudence series has been published since 2010. This recent publication is available for download via the following websites (in both Spanish and English):
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in article 24 seeks to combat discrimination of children with disabilities in the field of education by prescribing a model of social inclusion. This paper will critically examine the sociological concept of inclusion, the German experience in implementing article 24 and the limitations of article 24 vis à vis the Right to Education in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Before turning to the situation in Germany it is beneficial to discuss underlying concepts relating to special need education in order to clarify the notion of inclusion. In doing so, contested medical concepts, the perception of education as end rather than means and the voicelessness of the child, all lead to the conclusion that a rights-based approach is advantageous in acquiring social justice. Moreover, looking at the case of Germany and a school system with an exclusion rate of 82% the delay in the public discourse about inclusion is particularly striking. Hence, section 3 will look at empirical data, the UN definition of education and elaborate on the German confusion of inclusion and integration by making reference to domestic law and an exemplary case along with relating the Monitoring Body’s guidelines of availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability to the action plan of North Rhine-Westphalia. Finally, the application of social inclusion maxims to anti-discrimination law demands significant, positive adjustments but is also restricted by its focus on absolute disadvantage. The convention is arguably limited because of its narrow outlook owed to its civil and political nature and inclusive reform might bring broader equality when applied to the a priori Right to Education from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Deaf children have a right to a quality education, like all other children, in a language and environment that maximises their potential. In this video, in conjunction with a global conference in Sydney on equality for deaf people, Human Rights Watch shows some of the challenges faced by deaf children and young people, and the opportunities sign language education offers them.
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.
This comprehensive report presents the results of the Ninth Consultation of UNESCO’s Member States on the implementation of UNESCO’s Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education. Launched in 2016, this consultation involved 67 UNESCO Member States. The information contained in the national reports generally provides an extremely valuable resource for research and analysis, experience-and knowledge-sharing, and ultimately advocacy.
An interesting finding of the report is that countries seized on this periodic reporting exercise as a valuable opportunity to outline the challenges they face and to take stock of progress and reflect on how to overcome difficulties. The report highlights that the challenges are often crosscutting and intersectoral, making them more difficult to address.
In particular, the report points out serious challenges with regard to equity and inclusion. Socio-economic factors, poverty, ethnicity, location and gender account for significant patterns of discrimination and exclusion in education. Persistent harmful practices and attitudes stand in the way of many children and adults and deprive them of meaningful educational opportunities.
Difficulties relating to the quality of education were equally widely shared by countries, along with budgetary constraints and sometimes lack of governance, coordination and monitoring capacities.
The report also exemplifies the various measures adopted at the national level to ensure that education is provided to all in a discrimination-free environment. The report notably shares the positive measures reported by countries to guarantee inclusion in education, notably for girls and women, refugees, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, which is critical to advance SDG4.
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.
There is no robust evidence that private schools aimed at low-income families provide a better education than public schools in developing countries, according to GCE's new major report on for-profit, privatised education. The report sets out the corrosive consequences – greater inequality and social segregation – of increasing privatisation in education, and casts serious doubt on the ability of for-profit, low-fee private schools to achieve quality education for all.
‘Low-fee’ private schools have been put forward as way to fix the failings of public education systems in several developing countries, with advocates – which include the multinational publishing giant Pearson PLC, billionaires Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, the World Bank Group, and the UK’s Department for International Development - claiming they deliver a quality education, for the poorest families, at a low cost. Private Profit, Public Loss: why the push for low-fee private schools is throwing quality education off track explores these claims and, on examination of a broad spread of evidence, finds such claims wanting. In reality, such schools worsen social inequality by creating an unfair system where the quality of a child’s education is determined by how much their family can afford to pay.
The report argues that governments must stop this dangerous experiment with these for-profit, private schools and instead commit to improving their public education systems. With proper funding, strong policies, and plenty of political will, governments can provide a free, quality education that’s accessible to everyone.
The report finds that these schools:
- Stay low-fee by providing low quality: chronic underfunding of the education sector has led to dismal outcomes, but private schools are also performing poorly. Trained teachers are acknowledged by States as one of the most critical factors in realising quality – but they are being substituted for standardised lessons, often taught by tablet, and by teachers who in the most extreme situations have had only 4 days training.
- Price families in poverty out of classrooms: In Nigeria, the average cost to send two children to a low-fee private school consumes almost 40% of the monthly minimum wage – yet 60% of the population live below the poverty line, earning at most only 72% of minimum wage.
- Put up barriers for girls’ education: When parents in India, Pakistan, and Kenya couldn’t afford to enrol multiple children, evidence shows boys are often picked over girls to go to school.
- Fail to reach children with disabilities: Even if parents of children with disabilities can afford the fees, their children can be discriminated against, or even flatly denied admission, as one study in Nepal found.
The report outlines a path to providing quality education for all children, but warns that there are no quick fixes. Governments should stop subsidising private schools and instead fully fund public schools. This includes well-trained teachers, qualified support staff, and school facilities which are fit for purpose. In addition, public schools must be accountable and transparent to curb corruption and misuse of funds, while private schools must also be held to account and regulated to ensure they are meeting national education standards.
Smarter tax policies can help provide countries with the funds needed for these improvements. The report notes that the IMF estimates that developing countries lose US $200 billion a year due to companies using tax havens. Just 20% of that would be enough the cover the shortfall in funds needed to provide everyone with a quality education.
Donor governments and institutions should support these policies and boost their own levels of aid, which the report says have stagnated and fallen in recent years. The report warns that diverting the funds which do exist to for-profit private sector providers will further erode already weak public systems, and deny another generation of their right to free, quality education.
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.