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.

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)

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.

More than 40 percent of Tanzania’s adolescents are left out of quality lower-secondary education despite the government’s positive decision to make lower-secondary education free.

This report examines obstacles, including some rooted in outmoded government policies, that prevent more than 1.5 million adolescents from attending secondary school and cause many students to drop out because of poor quality education. The problems include a lack of secondary schools in rural areas, an exam that limits access to secondary school, and a discriminatory government policy to expel pregnant or married girls.

For a summary, see here.

For an esay to read version, in English, see here.

This report is the first time of its kind, looking at the educational impacts of homelessness on children. Important lessons were learnt after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in the US some years ago which left so many families homeless. There it was found that the school played a vital role in enabling children to access support, reducing distress and improving academic achievement. Many of these lessons could be applied in Ireland.

The report shows:

  • Children’s basic needs for nutrition, adequate rest and good health are not met when they experience homelessness. The children featured in the report experienced frequent school absences attributed to poor diet, inadequate rest and poor living conditions. The parents surveyed described how infections – including chicken pox, ear infections and head lice – were common, and difficult to treat and manage while living in overcrowded and confined accommodation.
  • Across all types of educational provision, parents reported that school was important to their children, not only because of friendships and learning experiences, but also because of the stability and predictability it offered amid the uncertainty and stresses that accompanied their experience of homelessness.
  • The majority of parents (17 out of 20) spoke positively about their children’s relationship with teachers and school staff. They described how praise, authentic encouragement and access to in-school supports had assisted children during periods of transition.
  • The parents and teachers surveyed repeatedly identified lack of access to a healthy diet as a factor impacting on children’s school attendance and learning. Parents described challenges in providing school lunches while living in emergency accommodation, with some reporting they had to choose between paying for transport to school and feeding their children.
  • Thirteen of 19 families surveyed indicated their children had to get up each morning before seven, with three parents waking their children at 5.30am to ensure access to a communal bathroom and allow enough travel time to get to school. Children were said to be fatigued before arriving in school, often sleeping on their morning commute.
  • Scarce financial resources, long journeys to and from school, significant transport costs, lack of appropriate facilities for food preparation and storage, and inadequate facilities for sleep and maintaining personal hygiene result in irritability, exhaustion, low self-esteem and feelings of social isolation amongst children experiencing homelessness. This impacts on their school attendance and results in reduced engagement and participation in school life.
  • The uncertainty and displacement caused by homelessness result in changes to children’s behaviour, including refusal to eat, increased levels of agitation, crying and comfort-seeking behaviours – with negative repercussions for their education.


The recommendations in the Children’s Rights Alliance report include:

  • A ring-fenced fund for schools to provide for the needs of children experiencing homelessness, including psychological assessment and support, extracurricular activities, homework clubs, additional tuition, or wrap-around services delivered within the school premises.
  • Increased provision of the Home School Community Liaison programme, and extension of this service to non-DEIS schools with children experiencing homelessness.
  • Expansion of the July Education Programme of the Department of Education and Skills – which provides funding to extend the school year by a month for children with severe learning disabilities or autism – to include children experiencing homelessness.
  • All temporary and emergency accommodation centres should have appropriately trained staff, safe and secure spaces for rest and sleep, age-appropriate homework and study spaces, adequate facilities for food preparation and storage, and appropriate standards of sanitary accommodation, including private bathrooms and access to washing machines.
  • A commitment from Government to provide a specific timeline in which it will end the use of emergency hotel and B&B type accommodation for families with children. The report recommends that families with children should not have to live in emergency or temporary accommodation for more than six months and figures relating to the type of provision and period of homelessness for families should be maintained and published on a monthly basis.
  • All schools making provision for children experiencing homelessness should have access to resources and facilities to provide children with regular, nutritious food. Consideration should also be given to mechanisms to support children’s access to nutritionally adequate food outside of school hours – through the development of community-based meal provision within school settings.
  • A review by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection of the circumstances of families experiencing homelessness to determine whether an Exceptional Needs Payment would assist with additional education-related costs, particularly at the start of the school year.

The report also includes interesting questionnaires used for the research.

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