What is being done to advance children’s right to education?

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What is being done to advance children’s right to education?

To help start the conversation and keep the focus of this discussion thread, please consider the following questions:

  • In what ways are civil society organizations, international organizations, communities and governments advancing children’s right to education?  Share your stories!
  • What kinds of collaborations have been effective to move these tactics forward?
  • How are practitioners domesticating international laws related to children’s right to education?

Share your experiences, thoughts, ideas and questions by adding a comment below or replying to existing comments!

Using gov't budgets to monitor the fulfillment of obligations

Hi everyone - I am happy to have the opportunity to start this discussion thread on the ways that people around the world are successfully advancing children's right to education!  I am eager to hear your examples and stories.

The story (we call it a tactic) that I want to share is about the use of government budgets to monitor the allocation of funds to protect and support the rights of children in South Africa.

Paul already explained the rationale for this tactic when he brought up the role of money in advancing access and quality of education in his comment in the discussion thread on barriers:

paulmcadams wrote:

Money isn't everything but plays a large part. In 2002, the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (now the Global Partnership for Education) recommended that governments allocate 20% of their budgets to education. As an example, countries in sub-Saharan Africa spend on average 5%...Someone working on the right to education could look at these indicators and conveniently map them to their own reality - the advantage of doing so is that it provides an analysis of the right to education based on government obligations as prescribed in international human rights law. That, in turn, makes it easier to advocate for any type of change (such as the construction of new schools, hiring of qualified teachers, elimination of user fees, etc.).

Government budgets provide a concrete tool for evaluating how programs and policies actually fulfill their financial and legal obligations.  A government’s programs that fulfill its obligations that help realize socio-economic rights must be included in its budget, and it must account not only for the amount budgeted, but also the amount actually spent.

In South Africa, Idasa’s Children’s Budget Unit (CBU) has used budget analyzes to monitor the government’s legal obligations, commitments, and progress in advancing child-specific socioeconomic rights and programs. The CBU monitors and evaluates these programs by looking at the government’s budget allocations, spending of funds, and program expenditures and implementation. The power of this tactic lies in its ability to reveal, in black and white, the extent of a government’s efforts towards its human rights obligations and commitments. The rights of the child are explicit, and the government is legally bound to fulfill them: in the South African Constitution, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the African Charter, the child has the right to political, socio-economic, cultural, economic, and environmental rights. In addition, the South African Constitution specifies that the child has the right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic health care services, and social services.

A budget-monitoring project, used effectively, can be an important tool in changing policy. South Africa, for instance, has an extensive social security program for children. The CBU has conducted numerous studies of the accessibility and effectiveness of this program, discovering discriminatory access in undeveloped and rural areas, and a governmental lack of administrative capacity that also hindered access to the program. In their 2001 study, "Budgeting for child socio-economic rights: Government obligations and the child’s right to social security and education" (Cassiem, Streak: 2001, Idasa), CBU recommended that that age limit of children accessing one of the social security grants be raised from six to 14. This recommendation was put into practice by the government in its 2003/04 budget, and together with other civil society organizations, CBU are now focusing on proposals that the program include all children under 18.

If you are interested in learning more about this tactic: how it was implemented, what were the challenges, how can this be transferable to another context, etc - please read our Tactical Notebook titled Using Government Budgets as a Monitoring Tool!

Have you used government budgets in your own country to monitor allocations to education?  What other ways have you and your colleagues held governments and other institutions accountable for their commitments to the access and quality of education?

Resource on budget analysis on the right to education

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for this - an interesting "tactic". You and others might be interested in a publication by IHRIP and International Budget Project called "Reading the books: Governments' budgets and the right to education". I can't seem to find it on the IHRIP or IBP websites but it is available via the Right to Education Project: http://www.right-to-education.org/sites/r2e.gn.apc.org/files/Right_to_education_and_government_budgets%5b1%5d.pdf 


The issue of relevance

One of the countires Build Africa works in is Uganda where the net enrollment is reasonably high, however many children drop out of school before completing primary education.   There are of course a multitude of factors that may lead to pupils dropping out.  One of these is the issue of whether or not school is seen to be useful and relevant.  

I would be interested to hear people's thoughts on what can be and what is being done to ensure that education is relevant and useful in such contexts.

Right to free and compulsory and free education in pakistan

With the promulgation of the 18th constitutional Amendment in Pakistan, education has become a provincial subject and the important and positive change in the amendment is the insertion of Article-25-A in the constitution of Pakistan that guarantees the right to free and compulsory education to all children of age 5 to 16 years in Pakistan. For the first time education is no longer a privilege, but a fundamental right for all children. This free and compulsory education is to be provided by the state, which by definition include both federal and provincial governments  

Funds for parents to send children to school rather than work

Hi again - I wanted to share another interesting approach to advancing children's right to education...this is another one from Brazil...

In her comment in the discussion thread on barriers, Ana writes:

ana_svoren wrote:

Another part of the issue, as already mentioned, is that parents do not always see the value of an education.

In many parts of the world, families would like to send their children to school but cannot afford to do so because they need the income. So they send their children to work, instead. The Bolsa Escola program is working to address this problem.  The program provides families with a monthly stipend so that children can attend school instead of work in the streets. The program, which began in the city of Brasilia, was created with the realization that the working children of today are the poor adults of tomorrow. Bolsa Escola was expanded to a federal program in 2001.

The Bolsa Escola program is managed by the Department of Education. Qualifying families receive monthly payments and ATM cards (electronic bank cards) that allow them to access the stipends directly. Families must meet the following criteria: The children must be between the ages of six and 15 and cannot miss more than two days of school per month; each unemployed adult in the family must be registered with the National Employment System (SINE) and actively seeking employment; and the family must have lived in Brazil for at least five years. The family receives the stipend for a minimum of two years with a maximum of eight years. If a child does not meet the mandatory attendance rate, the stipend for that month is withheld.

In addition to encouraging children to complete their education and combating poverty, this tactic has significantly decreased the numbers of child laborers and reduced the numbers of school dropouts.

For more information, you can read our tactic summary titled Providing parents with funds that allow them to send their children to school rather than to work.

In this example, one of the barriers to the child's access to education was the family.  What other ways are governments and communities working with families to encourage the children's access to education?  Share examples!

Fathers' Involvement in Schools

We know that parents involvement in their children's education is an important factor to their attitude towards and success in school. However I would like to call our attention to research (in the North American context) that has shown that children of involved fathers are more likely to enjoy school, have better grades and more positive peer relationships, have fewer behavior problems, and become more responsible adults. When fathers are involved with their child’s education, they send their child an essential message - school is important.

An  article (A solution for bullying: Call it the dad effect)  that appeared in  the Montreal Gazette on February 13, 2012 suggests that students whose fathers are involved in their schools are far less likely to be bullied or to be bullies.

The author, James Watts is founder and principal of Education Plus High School, an alternative private school in St. Laurent, (a suburb of Montreal) and chairman of the governing board of Lauren Hill Academy in St. Laurent offered his solution to bullying in school, which we has seen affect both access and quality of education for young people.

Watts writes that in his experience, when fathers are involved at school, their kids are less likely to be bullied or to bully. He taught in a variety of settings both in Canada and in Africa, and having been a high-school principal for 18 years, he offers both empirical research and a simple solution.  He has  noticed that students whose fathers are involved in their schools are far less likely to be bullied or to be bullies and suggests three reasons why.

  1. For a would-be bully, knowing that there is a dad and that he is often seen in the school is a strong deterrent.
  2. The second reason is the confidence it brings to a child to know that, if there is a problem, his or her dad can find the front office, and it's a place where he has influence because of his involvement in the school. This confidence shields kids, making them resistant to verbal and psychological attacks and occasionally secure enough to stand up for others.
  3. Finally, a father who is involved in his child's school sends an unmistakable message that he cares enough to take the time to know what is happening in his child's life. It is this father who is more likely to have a relevant conversation with his child. It is this father who will be perceived to understand the teen dynamic. It is this father who will model to his son how to be a man.

Vincenza Nazzari, Director of Education, Equitas

How can we engage parents in their children's education?

Vincenza Nazzari wrote:

When fathers are involved with their child’s education, they send their child an essential message - school is important.

Thanks for sharing this interesting research, Vincenza!  What can be done to encourage fathers (and both parents) to be more involved in their children's education?  Are you familiar with any examples in which schools or organizations have found successful ways to engage parents in their children's education?  It would be great to hear these kinds of examples!

Right to Education Indicators

I'd like to share some of the work that the Right to Education Project and ActionAid are doing to advance children's right to education.  

The Right to Education Project (www.right-to-education.org) has been working towards developing right to education indicators.  A human rights indicator is basically a way of monitoring the implementation of rights and identifying gaps in the protection of rights.  Monitoring the right to education is not an easy task, since education is a large, complex social issue and there are many ways in which the right is not fulfilled.  

RTE has developed an indicator framework which is currently being used by some of our partners.  Our work on developing these indicators and fine-tuning them is on-going, but there have been some interesting uses of the indicators.  Our goal is to ultimately produce a user-friendly tool for a variety of practitioners seeking to monitor the right to education and develop advocacy strategies based on the evidence collected.

RTE teamed up with ActionAid International to develop the Promoting Rights in Schools (PRS) framework, which offers a set of practical tools that can be used as a basis for mobilisation, advocacy and campaigning.  Drawing from international human rights treaties, the PRS contains a charter of 10 key education rights linked to measurable indicators.  Working with parents, teachers, children, community leaders, unions, government officials and other partners, ActionAid country programme teams will collect data at the school level on these indicators in several countries, which will feed into a national baseline report on whether or not States are providing quality education for all.  These reports will then be used to advocate for change at the national level but may also be used regionally or internationally (e.g., for Shadow Reporting to UN treaty bodies).

This initiative is still in the initial stages but is making good progress and there is interest from a variety of education stakeholders to use tools like this one, especially as many States are falling short of the UNESCO Education for All goals, which are due to conclude by 2015.  

Right to education indicator monitoring tools, such as the Promoting Rights in Schools framework, have the potential to spell out the specific gaps in the protection of the right to education, hold governments to account and support local civil society organisations with campaigning and advocacy tools.

How can schools/community get involved in the PRS initiative?

Thanks for sharing this, Bailey!  This project looks really interesting.  You mention that the initiative in in its initial stages - are there specific countries that you will be starting in?  Can school and communities contact their local ActionAid country programme offices to be involved?  Or are these tools that schools can use on their own? 

I can't wait to hear about the impact of this initiative!

Using the PRS

That's correct, Kristin.  If communities, schools, NGOs or others wish to be involved, they should contact their local ActionAid office.  I may be able to refer people as well, if they contact info@right-to-education.org.  It should be noted that this programme is being carried out by ActionAid in a selection of countries where they manage development programmes.  However, the Promoting Rights in Schools tool is publicly available to all, and others are free to use it.  The Right to Education Project can provide technical support to organisations wishing to use the PRS or our indicators more generally and should contact us at the above email address.

Promoting Rights in Schools

Hi Bailey,

I would love to learn more about the Promoting Rights in Schools initiative.  Have you got a start up date set for the roll out of this yet?  Will anything be done at the school level to help facilitate changes or just at the national/policy level?  

I am also very interested in the leraning more about the RTE indicator framework.  I've had a quick look over the website but would love ot know a little bit about how it is being used.  

I look forward to hearing more!



Thanks for all the great info about Build Africa!

Very interesting!  Thanks, Libby.  I think it's pretty neat that Build Africa organizes exchange visits for school management committees (SMCs).  It's great to hear that this work is already having a positive impact on communities and schools!  Thank you for doing this important work!

Utilizing int'l law to advance children's right to education

Hello all - it would be great to hear examples of how practitioners have used international law to advance children's right to education.  Participants in this dialogue have identified a pretty extensive list of international treaties and regional law that mention the right to education.  How have practitioners used these treaties and laws to make a national and local impact on children's right to education?  Please share your examples!

In India, the Right to

In India, the Right to education Act was implemented in the year 2010 by the Government of India, which makes elementary education free and compulsory to all children upto the age of 14 years or till the completion of elementary education.

In order to advance children's right to education, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has been organizing various awareness generation programmes in different parts of India. BBA feels that even though the Right to Education Act came into being, in reality it has not been implemented as the provisions laid down in the act are still not followed even in government schools.

BBA has also started a unique model of "Bal Mitra Gram " or Child Friendly Village, a model to eliminate child labour, illiteracy and violations of child rights through education and empowerment of the entire village community, especially children. Within Bal Mitra Gram, BBA facilitates community mobilization to improve education infrastructure.

BBA also initiated a parliamentary forum on education, wherein lobbying and advocacy was carried out with the parliamentarians. They were asked to raise the issue of education of children in the parliament.

A petition was filed by society for unaided private schools of Rajasthan and others whereby the unaided schools challenged the constitutional validity of Right to Education Act. BBA by its intervention application filed in 2011 opposed this petition and supported the view that RTE is an extension to fundamental right of children to get education and as such it is not in contravention to any other fundamental right or statute. Hence BBA supported Right to education Act and stood for it. Hearing is over but the court has reserved its order.

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