Right to Quality Education

The right to quality education is a fundamental right for all and an essential enabler for the realization of other rights. Quality education promotes personal development and strengthens the respect for human rights and freedom. All States are obligated to make quality education available to all, at all levels and free of charge. To evaluate how States fulfill their obligations regarding the right to education, RESULTS Education Fund developed the Right to Education Index (RTEI), which monitors national progress toward fulfillment of the right to education.

In 2015, the RTEI was piloted in five countries: Chile, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. The index identifies key areas in need of improvement, offers country-to-country comparisons, and tracks progress over time. These initial index results have been recently published in the “Right to Education Index: Pilot Report.”

The RTE Index is a composite score of how the country rates according to five themes: Governance and the 4-A framework of Availability, Accessibility, Acceptability, and Adaptability. The primary tool used to develop the RTE Index is the RTEI Questionnaire, a comprehensive survey of closed-ended questions answered with supporting documentation that is organized into the five themes as mentioned above. The 4-A framework was originally developed by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomaševski, and builds on the theory that education should be available (specific quantity of educational institutions available), accessible (institutions should be non-discriminatory and accessible to all), acceptable (education should be of good quality), and adaptable (ability of education to adapt to the various needs of the individual child).

The report shows that all of the pilot countries score high in Governance; they have signed onto or ratified international and regional treaties relevant to the right to education. Availability, on the other hand, is one of the weakest areas affecting the right to education. All countries face overcrowded classrooms; the Philippines has, on average, over 75 students in a primary school classroom. In terms of accessibility, results show that discriminatory practices against pregnant girls and young mothers were found in Nigeria and Tanzania. In both countries, girls who become pregnant can be expelled from school and young mothers are not allowed to re-enter. The report shows that in Nigeria, the Philippines, and Tanzania, education is acceptable: aims of education are included in national laws or policies, and in teacher curriculum. However, in terms of adaptability, the report shows that many of the countries struggle to adapt education to meet the needs of their diverse student population. Minority children and children with disabilities are the most excluded groups.

Results from the RTEI Index can be used as an instrument for identifying barriers to the right to education at a national level. The Index can also be used to hold governments and institutions accountable for their commitments and to increase public and political support for achieving the right to education.

For more information:

Right to Education Index Pilot Report, April 2016, RESULTS Education Fund. Go here to access the report.

Information about the RTEI Index and findings from RTEI partners can be accessed here.

RESULTS Educational Fund (RESULTS) is a non-profit advocacy organization working toward achieving education for all; for more information, please visit: http://www.results.org/

Tomaševski, Katarina. (2001). Removing obstacles in the way to the right to education. Gothenburg, Sweden: Novum Grafiska AB.

Anne Bauer