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What is the Right to Education?

The right to education is twofold: it requires free and compulsory primary level education, and it requires that there is equal access to every levelof education. A basic education is a right inherent to being human, andthus constitutes an end in itself. However, education is also a meansto an end: it is required to ensure all people can participateeffectively in a free society, and to promote understanding, toleranceand friendship among all nations and groups.

What does the right to education include?

There are several components to the right to education:

  • Available: There must be adequate school facilities and buildings. Schools must be healthy and safe physical environments with access to potable water.
  • Accessible: Education must available to all and free from discrimination. Schools must be in physical proximity to students, and education must be affordable for all students.
  • Acceptable: Schools must have trained teachers receiving domestically competitive salaries and good quality teaching materials that respect cultural differences. Discipline must respect a child???s dignity.
  • Adaptable: Schools must adapt or change to meet the needs of children from different communities, children who do not speak English in their homes, and children with disabilities.

All four of these areas are important to ensuring the right to education. However, international law recognizes that some countries may not have the resources to fully implement the right immediately. For those countries, there are two rules: first, consistently work to improve the right, and second, always provide at least the minimum core content. The minimum core content includes (1) the right of access to public institutions without discrimination, and (2) free choice of education without inteference by the state or a third party.

Finally, as with every human right, all countries have the following obligations when it comes to implementing the right to education:

  • Respect ??? the obligation to respect requires governments to refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the enjoyment of the right to education.
  • Protect ??? the obligation to protect requires governments to prevent third parties, such as corporations, from interfering in any way with the enjoyment of the right to education.
  • Fulfill ??? the obligation to fulfill requires governments to adopt the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of the right to education.