Today, December 10 2008, is the International Day of Human Rights and the 60th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, a document that affirms the inherent rights of people everywhere and enshrines the right to education in Article 26:
- 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.
The right to education is also articulated in many other international conventions and documents, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989); the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951); the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966); and the Dakar World Education Forum Framework for Action (2000), promoting Education for All.
And yet, despite these international commitments and principles, for millions of people affected by crisis, the right to education remains an unfulfilled promise, as demonstrated by these figures:
- Approximately 37 million children are out of school in conflict affected and fragile states, with many millions more affected by natural disasters (Save the Children, 2008)
- It is estimated that 20 million girls are out of school in conflict zones (Plan UK, 2008)
- The world faces a shortfall of 18 million teachers in the coming decade, and the areas most in need of education personnel are fragile states (UNESCO, 2008)ref: The Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE)
We should all reflect on the state of the children in the world.