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Right to education

Right to education

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The right to education is a universal entitlement to education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

, a right that is recognized as a human right. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

 the right to education includes the right to free, compulsory primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 for all, an obligation to develop secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 accessible to all, in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

, ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education. The right to education also includes a responsibility to provide basic education for individuals who have not completed primary education. In addition to these access to education provisions, the right to education encompasses the obligation to rule out discrimination
Discrimination
Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

 at all levels of the educational system, to set minimum standards and to improve quality of education.

International legal basis


The right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 and Articles 13 and 14 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

.

The right to education has been reaffirmed in the 1960 UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Convention against Discrimination in Education
Convention against Discrimination in Education
Convention against Discrimination in Education is a convention adopted by UNESCO in 1960 aiming to combat segregation and discrimination in the field of education. It has entered into force in 1962. There is an additional Protocol Instituting a Conciliation and Good offices Commission, adopted in...

 and the 1981 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women is an international convention adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly....

.

In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, Article 2 of the first Protocol of 20 March 1952 to the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 states that the right to education is recognized as a human right and is understood to establish an entitlement to education. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to education includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education in particular by the progressive introduction of free higher education. The right to education also includes a responsibility to provide basic education for individuals who have not completed primary education. In addition to these access to education provisions, the right to education encompasses also the obligation to eliminate discrimination at all levels of the educational system, to set minimum standards and to improve quality. The European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 in Strasbourg has applied this norm for example in the Belgian linguistic case. Article 10 of the European Social Charter
European Social Charter
The European Social Charter is a Council of Europe treaty which was adopted in 1961 and revised in 1996. The Revised Charter came into force in 1999 and is gradually replacing the initial 1961 treaty...

 guarantees the right to vocational training.

National law


The right is recognised in several national constitutions, including the Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 constitution (former article 17, now article 24), Indian
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 constitution (Under article 21(a)) and the Dutch constitution (article 23).

Definition


Education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 narrowly refers to formal institutional instructions. Generally, international instruments use the term in this sense and the right to education, as protected by international human rights instruments
International human rights instruments
International human rights instruments are treaties and other international documents relevant to international human rights law and the protection of human rights in general...

, refers primarily to education in a narrow sense. The 1960 UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Convention against Discrimination in Education defines education in Article 1(2) as: "all types and levels of education, (including) access to education, the standard and quality of education, and the conditions under which it is given."

In a wider sense education
Education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...

 may describe "all activities by which a human group transmits to its descendants a body of knowledge and skills and a moral code which enable the group to subsist". In this sense education refers to the transmission to a subsequent generation of those skills needed to perform tasks of daily living, and further passing on the social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical values of the particular community. The wider meaning of education has been recognised in Article 1(a) of UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

's 1974 Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The article states that education implies:


"the entire process of social life by means of which individuals and social groups learn to develop consciously within, and for the benefit of, the national and international communities, the whole of their personal capabilities, attitudes, aptitudes and knowledge."


The European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 has defined education in a narrow sense as "teaching or instructions... in particular to the transmission of knowledge and to intellectual development" and in a wider sense as "the whole process whereby, in any society, adults endeavour to transmit their beliefs, culture and other values to the young."

Assessment of fulfilment


The fulfilment of the right to education can be assessed using the 4 As framework, which asserts that for education to be a meaningful right it must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. The 4 As framework was developed by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomasevski
Katarina Tomasevski
Katarina Tomasevski was, from 1998 to 2004, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.-External links:* , accessed August 2009*...

, but is not necessarily the standard used in every international human rights instrument and hence not a generic guide to how the right to education is treated under national law.

The 4 As framework proposes that governments, as the prime duty-bearer, has to respect, protect and fulfil the right to education by making education available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. The framework also places duties on other stakeholders in the education process: the child, which as the privileged subject of the right to education has the duty to comply with compulsory education
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

 requirements, the parents as the ‘first educators’, and professional educators, namely teacher
Teacher
A teacher or schoolteacher is a person who provides education for pupils and students . The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional...

s.

The 4 As have been further elaborated as follows:
  • Availability – funded by governments, education is universal, free
    Free education
    Free education refers to education that is funded through taxation, or charitable organizations rather than tuition fees. Although primary school and other comprehensive or compulsory education is free in many countries, for example, all education is mostly free including...

     and compulsory. There should be proper infrastructure and facilities in place with adequate books and materials for students. Buildings should meet both safety and sanitation standards, such as having clean drinking water. Active recruitment, proper training and appropriate retention methods should ensure that enough qualified staff is available at each school.

  • Accessibility – all children should have equal access to school services regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity or socio-economic status. Efforts should be made to ensure the inclusion of marginalized groups including children of refugees, the homeless or those with disabilities. There should be no forms of segregation or denial of access to any students. This includes ensuring that proper laws are in place against any child labour or exploitation to prevent children from obtaining primary or secondary education. Schools must be within a reasonable distance for children within the community, otherwise transportation should be provided to students, particularly those that might live in rural areas, to ensure ways to school are safe and convenient. Education should be affordable to all, with textbooks, supplies and uniforms provided to students at no additional costs.

  • Acceptability – the quality of education provided should be free of discrimination, relevant and culturally appropriate for all students. Students should not be expected to conform to any specific religious or ideological views. Methods of teaching should be objective and unbiased and material available should reflect a wide array of ideas and beliefs. Health and safety should be emphasized within schools including the elimination of any forms of corporal punishment. Professionalism of staff and teachers should be maintained.

  • Adaptability – educational programs should be flexible and able to adjust according to societal changes and the needs of the community. Observance of religious or cultural holidays should be respected by schools in order to accommodate students, along with providing adequate care to those students with disabilities.


A number of international NGOs and charities work to realise the right to education using a rights-based approach to development
Rights-based approach to development
Rights-based approach to development is a strategy used by non-governmental organizations to reduce local communities' dependency on aid by improving government capacity. This practice blurs the distinction between human rights and development...

.

Historical development


In Europe, before the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

 of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, education was the responsibility of parents and the church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

. With the French
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 education was established also as a public function. It was thought that the state, by assuming a more active role in the sphere of education, could help to make education available and accessible to all. Education had thus far been primarily available to the upper social classes and public education was perceived as a means of realising the egalitarian ideals underlining both revolutions.

However, neither the American Declaration of Independence (1776) nor the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) protected the right to education as the liberal concepts of human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 in the nineteenth century envisaged that parents retained the primary duty for providing education to their children. It was the states obligation to ensure that parents complied with this duty, and many states enacted legislation making school attendance compulsory. Furthermore child labour laws were enacted to limit the number of hours per day children could be employed, to ensure children would attend school. States also became involved in the legal regulation of curricula and established minimum educational standards.

In On Liberty
On Liberty
On Liberty is a philosophical work by British philosopher John Stuart Mill. It was a radical work to the Victorian readers of the time because it supported individuals' moral and economic freedom from the state....

John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

 wrote that an "education established and controlled by the State should only exist, if it exists at all, as one among many competing experiments, carried on for the purpose of example and stimulus to keep the others up to a certain standard of excellence." Liberal thinkers of the nineteenth century pointed to the dangers to too much state involvement in the sphere of education, but relied on state intervention to reduce the dominance of the church, and to protect the right to education of children against their own parents. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, educational rights were included in domestic bills of rights. The 1849 Paulskirchenverfassung
Paulskirchenverfassung
The Constitution of the German Empire of 1849, more commonly known as the Frankfurt Constitution or Paulskirchenverfassung , was an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to created a unified German state under an Emperor...

, the constitution of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, strongly influenced subsequent European constitutions and devoted Article 152 to 158 of its bill of rights to education. The constitution recognised education as a function of the state, independent of the church. Remarkable at the time, the constitution proclaimed the right to free education for the poor, but the constitution did not explicitly require the state to set up educational institutions. Instead the constitution protected the rights of citizens to found and operate schools and to provide home education
Home education
Home education is a collective term used in the UK to describe education provided otherwise than through the schooling system. Parents have a duty to ensure their children are educated but the education legislation in England and Wales does not differentiate between school attendance or education...

. The constitution also provided for freedom of science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 and teaching, and it guaranteed the right of everybody to choose a vocation and train for it.

The nineteenth century also saw the development of socialist theory, which held that the primary task of the state was to ensure the economic and social well-being of the community through government intervention and regulation. Socialist theory recognised that individuals had claims to basic welfare services against the state and education was viewed as one of these welfare entitlements. This was in contrast to liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 theory at the time, which regarded non-state actors as the prime providers of education. Socialist ideals were enshrined in the 1936 Soviet Constitution, which was the first constitution to recognise the right to education with a corresponding obligation of the state to provide such education. The constitution guaranteed free and compulsory education at all levels, a system of state scholarships and vocational training in state enterprises. Subsequently the right to education featured strongly in the constitutions of socialist states. As a political goal, right to education was declared in F. D. Roosevelt's 1944 speech on the Second Bill of Rights
Second Bill of Rights
The Second Bill of Rights was a list of rights proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, during his State of the Union Address on January 11, 1944. In his address Roosevelt suggested that the nation had come to recognize, and should now implement, a second "bill...

.

Implementation


International law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 does not protect the right to pre-primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and international documents generally omit references to education at this level. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 states that everyone has the right to education, hence the right applies to all individuals, although children are understood as the main beneficiaries.

The rights to education are separated into three levels:
  • Primary (Elemental or Fundamental) Education. This shall be compulsory and free for any child regardless of their nationality, gender, place of birth, or any other discrimination. Upon ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
    The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

     States must provide free primary education within two years.
  • Secondary (or Elementary, Technical and Professional in the UDHR) Education must be generally available and accessible.
  • Higher Education (at the University Level) should be provided according to capacity. That is, anyone who meets the necessary education standards should be able to go to university.

Both secondary and higher education shall be made accessible "by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education".

Role of the State


Today education is considered an important public function. The state
State (polity)
A state is an organized political community, living under a government. States may be sovereign and may enjoy a monopoly on the legal initiation of force and are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Many states are federated states which participate in a federal union...

 is seen as the chief provider of education through the allocation of substantial budgetary resources and through educational law and legislation. The preeminent role of the state in fulfilling the right to education is enshrined in the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

. Traditionally, education has been the duty of a child's parents, however with the rise of public education, the role of parents has diminished. The World Declaration on Education for All was adopted at the 1990 World Conference on Education for All, stating that "partnerships between government and non-governmental organisations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups, and families" are necessary.

Compulsory education


The realisation of the right to education on a national level may be achieved through compulsory education
Compulsory education
Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

, or more specifically free compulsory primary education, as stated in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly . The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled...

 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976...

.

Lawsuits

  • Mills vs. Board of Education of District of Columbia
    Mills vs. Board of Education of District of Columbia
    Mills vs. Board of Education of District of Columbia was a case against the District of Columbia that declared that students with disabilities must be given a public education, and that financial limits were a moot point in providing education to these students...

  • Mohini Jain V/s State of Karnataka case
    Mohini Jain V/s State of Karnataka case
    In 1989, the Government of Karnataka issued a notification that permitted the private medical colleges in the State of Karnataka to charge exorbitant tuition fees from the students admitted other than the ‘Government seat quota’. Miss Mohini Jain, a medical aspirant student filed a petition in...

    (1992 AIR 1858) or (AIR 1992 SC 2100)
  • Unni Krishnan v State of Andhra Pradesh (AIR 1993 SC 2178)

External links