Although the majority of countries recognize the right to education through international and national law, the fulfilment of the right to education is far from being a reality. This is why we have launched a campaign to make sure the right to education is enforceable in countries around the world. Citizens should be able to take their governments to court if they violate this right. If they can’t, a vital backstop in accountability is missing.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that 264 million children and adolescents are still out of school, with girls in most countries the first to be excluded. Refugees, migrants and internally displaced people escaping from conflicts, natural disasters or economic hardship face huge challenges to access education. As our WIDE database shows, other marginalized groups, such as children from indigenous or minority backgrounds, and the poor also continue to encounter barriers to the right to education. The lack of access to and violations of the right to education result from discriminatory practices, weak legal safeguards, poor execution of policies and inadequate budget allocations for education by governments.
On 8 December, the GEM Report launched a youth campaign, #WhosAccountable to support the enforcement of the right to education ahead of Human Rights Day, celebrated on December 10. Launched in collaboration with nine global youth ambassadors, and over 15 national and international education partners including the Right to Education Initiative, Equal Education and the Global Partnership for Education, the Campaign calls on young people to come together, exercise their collective voice, and call on governments to make sure the right to education is enforced.
The Campaign coincides with the launch of our fifth Youth Report. This Report asks young people to give their take on the 2017/8 GEM Report’s key findings on accountability. It shows that youth play a vital role in holding governments accountable for equitable, quality education.
Based on research prepared by the Right to Education Initiative, the Report notes that although every country has ‘ratified at least one international treaty illustrating its commitment to the right to education in practice the right to education is only justiciable in 55% of countries.’ In the absence of the capacity of citizens to take legal action on the failure of governments to deliver, the right to education risks being reduced to empty rhetoric. A new interactive map created for this campaign shows where the right to education is justiciable and where it is not.
The #WhosAccountable Campaign is an important call to action for all young people, who have important responsibilities when their rights or the rights of others are violated. This includes being part of social movements and protestsspeaking out on higher education governing boards and committees and writing to Ministers and Government officials to demand action, including for making the right justiciable in national legal frameworks.
The twelve-week campaign seeks to influence the recommendations adopted by the SDG 4 Steering Committee, which meets in February 2018. The GEM Report will present a petition and video messages from campaign supporters to call for the right to education to be enforced by governments worldwide.