Committee on the Rights of the Child
The Convention on the Rights of the Child
is the most widely ratified international human rights instrument, with 193 States Parties. The right to education is set out in articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a number of other international instruments.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of independent experts responsible for reviewing progress made by party States in implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, devoted its 2008 Day of General Discussion (DGD) on 19 September 2008 to articles 28 and 29 of the Convention dealing with the right to education, focusing upon the education of children in emergency situations. The purpose of this Day of General Discussion was to provide States and other actors with more comprehensive guidance as to their obligations to promote and protect the right to education as outlined in articles 28 and 29.
The Day of Discussion on Education in Emergencies in September 2008 brought together over 100 experts from around the world – representing States parties, international organisations, and non governmental organisations, as well as individuals-- to discuss the situation of children whose lives are affected by emergency situations from many parts of the world. For the purpose of this Day of General Discussion, “emergency situations” were defined as all situations in which man-made or natural disasters destroy, within a short period of time, the usual conditions of life, care and education facilities for children.
Given the complexity of the concepts and issues involved as well as the concerns raised and experiences gathered to date in the Committee's efforts to address these issues, participants were divided in two working groups on the following themes:
Working Group 1: Continuation and/or Reconstruction of the Educational System (click title to read the report)
Working Group 2: Content and Quality of Education Provided for Children in Emergency Situations (click title to read the report)
Report and Recommendations
The Committee released its report, including recommendations, in January 2009. Among the recommendations, the Committee:
- calls upon States parties to honor their obligation to fully ensure the right to education for every child within their jurisdiction, without any discrimination, throughout all stages of emergency situations, including the emergency preparedness phase and the reconstruction and the post emergency phases.
- calls upon States parties, donors and relief agencies to include education as an integral component of the humanitarian relief response from the outset.
- urges all States parties, in particular those that are prone to natural disasters or in areas likely to be affected by armed conflict, to prepare a plan of action for the provision of the right to education in emergency situations.
- urges States parties to fulfill their obligation therein to ensure schools as zones of peace and places where intellectual curiosity and respect for universal human rights is fostered; and to ensure that schools are protected from military attacks or seizure by militants; or use as centres for recruitment. The Committee urges States parties to criminalize attacks on schools as war crimes in accordance with article 8(2)(b) (ix) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and to prevent and combat impunity.
- recommends that States parties ensure that education is truly inclusive with easy access of marginalized children including children with disabilities; children affected by HIV/AIDS, refugee and asylum -seeking children; internally displaced children as well as very young children through early childhood development and education programs. Secondary education, both general and vocational, should also be available for children beyond primary education. It also urges States parties to implement gender-equitable policy and programme interventions, including special measures, in order to ensure that all boys and girls affected by emergency situations have equal access to safe, quality and relevant education.
- invites States parties, relief agencies and the donor community to draw on the resources of INEE, most notably the INEE Minimum Standards. In particular, the Committee underscores that the quality of education should be guided by article 29 (1) of the Convention and must meet the agreed INEE Minimum Standards for education in emergencies in order to serve as a protection and a life saving measure. It also urges States parties, United Nations agencies, donors and relief agencies to ensure that INEE Minimum Standards are applied at all stages of humanitarian relief response in order to ensure the right of children to education in emergencies.
- urges States parties, relief agencies and the donor community to support the Interagency Standing Committee Education Cluster as the appropriate mechanism for determining educational needs in emergency situations and responding to them in a coordinated manner.
- calls upon States parties and other relevant actors to include education in peace and cease fire agreements and to ensure smooth transition to regular schools through honoring certification that respects the INEE Minimum Standards and accreditation and official recognition of education received during emergencies.
- recommends that States parties and other international partners support child participation so that children can voice their views with regard to what they learn (the content) and how they learn (rights-based and child-centered active learning) and are empowered by the relevant content of education and the active learning process.
- calls upon States parties, United Nations agencies, donors and relief agencies to ensure the right of the child to education in emergency situations by adopting education as a relief measure and prioritizing it as a main area of basic relief assistance. The Committee reiterates the critical importance of including education in every humanitarian relief response from the outset.
- calls upon States parties, United Nations agencies, donors and relief agencies to provide adequate sustained funding and to assist States in raising and appropriately allocating funds to ensure the right of the child to education in emergency situations.
Finally, the Committee will consider recommending the inclusion of information with regard to the implementation of the INEE Minimum Standards in State party reports on the implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocols where relevant.