3 things to know about education as a human right
Human Rights Day is observed on December 10. This year, kicks off a year-long campaign leading up to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which set outs fundamental human rights, including education, to be universally protected.
December 10, 2017 by GPE Secretariat| |
A school child smiles in the courtyard of Kanyosha Primary School in Burundi. Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Nijimbere

This December 10 marks the start of a year-long campaign leading up to the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the declaration that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being, regardless of race, religion, sex, language, political opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Did you know that the Declaration is one of the most translated documents in the world, available in more than 500 languages?

Article 26 of the Declaration is about the right to education:

Article 26

  1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Let’s have a look at 3 ideas about education as a human right.

  1. Education allows individuals to exercise all their rights
  2. Being illiterate means not being able to:

    • find directions to take a bus
    • understand the label on a medication bottle
    • help your child with homework
    • read programs of political candidates and cast an informed vote.

    A basic education is important to ensure that all individuals are aware of their rights. Without an education it is less likely to get  a good-paying job and decent housing, participate in the democratic process or value education for future generations. There is evidence that educated citizens care more about the environment, are more tolerant of others who are not like them, and are more likely to strive for gender equality.

  3. All children have a right to a quality education
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    After huge improvements in access to education during the years 2000 to 2015, the focus of the global education community has shifted to ensuring that children going to school actually learn and get the skills they need to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

    But around the world, 617 million children and youth are not mastering reading and mathematics even after spending many years in school. This is why goal 1 of the GPE strategy for 2016-2020 aims to improve learning outcomes for children. The results in our 2015-16 results report are encouraging, with 65% of GPE partner countries with data showing improved learning results/outcomes between 2000 and 2015.

  5. All children should be offered the same opportunities
  6. Even in countries that have reached universal enrollments, education available to children can vary greatly, either because of location or socio-economic status. For example, there are usually sufficient teachers in cities with larger school systems, but it is difficult to attract qualified teachers to remote or rural areas. And to reach SDG 4, the world will need an additional 69 million teachers by 2030 to keep up with demographic growth.

    Children with disabilities may be able to go to school (although only about 10% of them do in the developing world), but their classrooms, teachers and learning materials may not be adapted to their needs and therefore they won’t be able to progress.

    The theme of inclusion of all children in a country’s education system is high on the SDG 4 agenda, and therefore on GPE’s agenda too. Goal 2 of GPE 2020  calls for more inclusion, especially for the most marginalized children. Since 2002, there are 14 million fewer out-of-school children in GPE partner countries.

    GPE partners will continue to work tirelessly to make sure all children can exercise their right to education, the only path to a sustainable future for our planet and all who live on it.

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Basic Education, SDG 4

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