this article is written by Yashasvini from BBA LLB 2nd year School of law, Lovely Professional University.
The right to education has been recognized as a human right in a number of international conventions, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which recognizes a right to free, compulsory primary education for all, an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all with the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education, ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education. In 2021, 171 states were parties to the Covenant.
In 2019, an estimated 260 million children worldwide did not have access to school education, and social inequality was a major cause.
The Human Rights Measurement Initiative measures the right to education for countries around the world, based on their level of income.
The right to education is reflected in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“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. 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. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”
Education is the access 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, refers primarily to education in a narrow sense. The 1960 UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education defines education in Article 1(2) as: “all types and levels of education, (including such) access to education, the standard and quality of education, and the conditions under which it is given.”
The role of education for individuals, the society and the state Education in all its forms (informal,non formal, and formal) is crucial to ensure dignity of all individuals. The aims of education, as set out in the international human rights law (IHRL), are all directed to the realization of the individual’s rights and dignity. These include, among others, ensuring human dignity and the full and holistic development of the human personality; fostering physical and cognitive development; allowing for the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and talents; contributing to the realization of the full potential of the individual; enhancing self-esteem and increasing confidence; encouraging respect for human rights; shaping a person’s sense of identity and affiliation with others; enabling socialization and meaningful interaction with others; enabling a person to shape the world around them enables their participation in community life; contributing to a full and satisfying life within society; and empowering and allowing for the increased enjoyment of other human rights.
Education is also transformative for the state and society. As one of the most important mechanisms by which social groups, in particular indigenous peoples and minorities are maintained from generation to generation, passing on language,culture,identity,values, and custome, education is also one of the key ways states can ensure their economic,social,political, and cultural interests. The main role of education within a society and the state is to: Allow for the transmission of culture, values, identity, languages, and customs from one generation to the next; Promote sustainable economic growth; Foster democratic and peaceful societies; Encourage participation and inclusion in decision-making processes; Encourage a rich cultural life; Help build a national identity; Promote social justice ; Overcome persistent and entrenched challenges; Encourage sustainable development, including respect for the environment.
COMPULSORY EDUCATION. The realization of the right to education on a national level may be achieved through compulsory education , or more specifically free compulsory primary education, as stated in both the universal declaratioin of human rights and the international covenant on economic and cultural rights.
RIGHT TO EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN . The rights of all children from early childhood stem from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration proclaimed in article 1: ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’. The declaration states that human rights begin at birth and that childhood is a period demanding special care and assistance [art. 25 (2)]. The 1959 declaration of the rights of the child affirmed that: ‘mankind owes to the child the best it has to give’, including education. This was amplified by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 which states that: ‘education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. [art. 13 (1)] The World Declaration on e (EFA) adopted education for all in 1990 in Jomtien.Thailand, states in article 5 that: ‘Learning begins at birth […] This calls for early childhood care and initial education .’ A decade later, the Dakar Framework for Action on EFA established six goals, the first of which was: ‘expanding and improving early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.’ Protection of children of all ages from exploitation and actions that would jeopardize their health, education and well-being has also been emphasized by the international labour organization in Conventions No. 138 on the Minimum Age of Employment (1973) and No. 182 on the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999). The United Nations contributed to such endeavours by the Declaration of the Rights of the Child unanimously adopted by the General Assembly in 1959.
In the year 2019, an estimated 260 million children did not have access to school education on a global scale. FEMALE EDUCATION In the 21st century gender inequality is still an obstacle to universal access to education. Conservative attitudes towards the female gender role challenges women’s and girls’ fully exercise of their right to education. Malala yousafzai, activist for female education Out of 750 million illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are estimated to be women. This is due to gender inequality, misogynistic violence, as well as, marriage and pregnancy, often associated with poverty and geographic isolation. In the second decade of 21st century, the advocacy for women’s right to access education became a global movement through the activism of Malala yousafzai, a Pakistani nobel laureate. COVID 19 The COVID-19 pandemic affected over 90% of the world’s students and was responsible for the rise of social inequality in the access to education. The global recession immediate to the pandemic projected drastic consequences on education funding, causing long-lasting effects on the equal right to education. Globally, during the pandemic, markers of gender,class, and ethnicity presented themselves as factors of vulnerability in the access to basic rights such as education and health
Distribution of free textbooks to children in a school in assam In despite of E-learning historical objective walks towards the democratization of education access, depending on its quality, it can be a difficulty in the achievement of this right. Students lacking cultural capital, family support, and material conditions (including access to quality electronic equipment and internet) have had their access to education hindered by this modality of education. The return to classroom teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic generated a conflict between the right to health and the right to an education. By returning to the school before the pandemic was fully under control, students were exposed to the SARS-CoV-2. Another aspect chained by the pandemic, that also relates to the right to health, is the damage to students’ mental health.