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Our right to education campaign

Victor Jules Raison/Arete/GEM Report

Our right to education campaign

 “Youth play a vital role holding governments responsible for equitable quality education to account. The GEM Report shows we can work together to improve education systems, and play our part in reaching our education goal. Join us in helping us call on governments to make sure the right to education is enforced”. Dr Koumbou Boly Barry, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

About the GEM Reports right to education campaign

In December 2017, the GEM Report launched a right to education campaign on the need for people to have a legal recourse if the right to education is not respected. By the end of the campaign period we had received signatures from over 1000 right to education campaigners from over 110 countries. Based on the core recommendation in the 2017/8 GEM Report, the campaign was backed by nine youth ambassadors and over 15 national and international supporting organisations.

On March 2, 2018 Victoria Ibiwoye one of our nine youth ambassadors delivered our petition to the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee and called on the Committee members to:

  • Produce a joint statement recognizing the right to education as a crucial expression of accountability upholding the SDG 4 agenda.
  • Hold events emphasizing the links between the right to education and the SDG 4 agenda and the arguments for ensuring the right to education is justiciable. These could take place at the Global Education Meeting in December and SDG 4 regional meetings, encouraging peer-learning, and sharing of best practices.

The Steering Committee endorsed both actions and we now have a strong foundation and important tool for future advocacy on the right to education. We also have a commitment from members to prioritize joint dialogue and host events emphasizing the links between SDG4 and the human right to education. The series will kick off with a dialogue on SDG4 and the right to education organized by the OHCHR in New York in April, 2018.

Whilst the campaign has now ended, the need to continue to monitor and ensure governments take their human rights obligations seriously is as urgent as ever. We hope you continue to spread the campaign’s messages and welcome updates on your campaigning activities.

Why we need to make sure we can hold governments to account for education

Governments are responsible for the right to education. If governments aren’t doing as they said they would, we should be able to legally claim our right to education. The GEM Report shows that every country in the world has ratified at least one human rights treaty guaranteeing some aspect of the right to education, 82% of national constitutions guarantee the right to education, but citizens in only 55% of countries have the legal ability to take government to court for violations – and in only 41% of countries have they made use of this potential.

Citizens should be able to take their governments to court for violating the right to education

Citizens should be able to take their governments to court for violating the right to education

If the right to education is not enforceable in courts, there is no access to justice and governments can violate it without us being able to hold them to account.

Successful court cases have prompted changes to unfair legislation and policies, including establishing free primary and secondary education in Colombia, mandating the government to increase its spending on pre-primary education in Argentina, ensuring children with HIV/AIDS are not denied an education in India, and guaranteeing appropriate school infrastructure in South Africa.

This is why we need to continue to call on governments to make sure the right to education is enforced.