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Education-Fundamental Human Right

Education as Fundamental and Human Right

Child protection

Every citizen of India has the right to education.

The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.

Some of the basic principles which guide us are –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.

Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Education and SDG

The Education for All movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. The movement was launched at the World Conference on Education for All in 1990.

Many years later, many countries are far from this stated goal. Representatives from various countries met again in Dakar, Senegal and affirmed their commitment to achieving Education for All by the year 2015. They identified six key education goals which aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.

Ambitions for education are essentially captured in Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the 2030 Agenda which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. The roadmap to achieve the education goal, adopted in November 2015, provides guidance to governments and partners on how to turn commitments into action (Education 2030 Framework for Action).

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating the international community to achieve this goal through partnerships, policy guidance, capacity development, monitoring and advocacy. .

Why is Right to Education important?

The right to education is a human right and indispensable for the exercise of other human rights.

  • Quality education aims to ensure the development of a fully-rounded human being.
  • It is one of the most powerful tools in lifting socially excluded children and adults out of poverty and into society. UNESCO data shows that if all adults completed secondary education, globally the number of poor people could be reduced by more than half.
  • It narrows the gender gap for girls and women. A UN study showed that each year of schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5 to 10 per cent.
  • For this human right to work there must be equality of opportunity, universal access, and enforceable and monitored quality standards.

What is the current situation?

  • About 258 million children and youth are out of school, according to UIS data for the school year ending in 2018. The total includes 59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary age.
  • 155 countries legally guarantee 9 years or more of compulsory education
  • Only 99 countries legally guarantee at least 12 years of free education
  • 8.2% of primary school age children does not go to primary school.  Only six in ten young people will be finishing secondary school in 2030. The youth literacy rate (15-24) is of 91.73%, meaning 102 million youth lack basic literacy skills.

What are the major challenges to ensure the right to education?

Providing free and compulsory education to all

  • 155 countries legally guarantee 9 years or more of compulsory education.
  • Only 99 countries legally guarantee at least 12 years of free education.
  • Eliminating inequalities and disparities in education
  • While only 4% of the poorest youth complete upper secondary school in low-income countries, 36% of the richest do. In lower-middle-income countries, the gap is even wider: while only 14% of the poorest youth complete upper secondary school, 72% of the richest do.

Migration and displacement

According to a 2019 UNHCR report, of the 7.1 million refugee children of school age, 3.7 million - more than half - do not go to school. 

Privatization and its impact on the right to education

States need to strike a balance between educational freedom and ensuring everyone receives a quality education.

Financing of education

The Education 2030 Agenda requires States to allocate at least 4-6 per cent of GDP and/or at least 15-20 per cent of public expenditure to education.

Quality imperatives and valuing the teaching profession

Two-thirds of the estimated 617 million children and adolescents who cannot read a simple sentence or manage a basic mathematics calculation are in the classroom.

Source : Education for all - a Right

Related Resources

  1. www.unesco.org


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