Defending the right to education for all
Action Education is fully committed to making effective the right of all, adults and children, women and men, to education. This right is enshrined in fundamental texts such as the Declaration of Human Rights or the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It provides each child with the necessary keys to prepare for adult life, to escape poverty, to find his or her place as a citizen or to ensure his or her protection and that of his or her family.
What is the right to education?
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted in 1989 by the United Nations, is the first binding text to make the under-18s subjects of fundamental, obligatory and non-negotiable rights (civil, economic, social, etc.). The CRC contains 54 articles, including the child's right to education.
The 196 states States Parties to the CRC undertake to make primary education free and compulsory, to promote the organization of different forms of general and vocational secondary education, and to ensure access to higher education for all, on the basis of individual capacity, by every appropriate means.
They are committed to improving education around the world as part of their policy of solidarity and international development.
The right to education is also enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 1789.
Numerous conventions and treaties protect this fundamental human right to the exercise of other rights. Signatory states undertake to respect, protect and fulfil it.
Many states, including France, have also enshrined the right to free, compulsory and accessible education for all in their constitutions.
The limits of the right to education
However, more than 30 years after the adoption of the CRC, the right to education is still struggling to be respected.
59 million children of primary school age, 62 million of lower secondary school age and 138 million of upper secondary school age are not in school. Only 99 countries legally guarantee at least 12 years of free education (UIS, 2018).
After school drop-out, child labour is another scourge facing the right to education. Even today, 160 million children are forced to work and half of them are engaged in hazardous work (ILO, 2020).
How does Action Education defend the right to education?
At Action Education, we believe that lifelong learning is the key to a fairer world. To enable all the populations we work with to to acquire the necessary skills is our duty.
For more than 40 years, Action Education has been implementing advocacy actions and field projects to ensure that the right to education for everyone, everywhere in the world, is respected.
We focus our actions on the populations most exposed to inequalities, including children, girls and women. The aim is to remove all the obstacles that currently prevent them from attending school.
We are now conducting over 90 projects in Asia, Africa and Europe to ensure quality education for all throughout life:
- Construction and development of schools
- Improvement of school environments (construction of wells, sanitation systems, latrines...)
- Training of teachers, administrative staff and communities for better school management
- Raising awareness of the importance of education among children and adults
- Advocacy with local administrations and governments to improve the effectiveness of the right to education in all our countries of intervention.
Educating future citizens
In several of our countries of operation, we are setting up school governments in primary schools.
A group of students, democratically elected by the others, is responsible for the different aspects of school life: environment, cleanliness, schoolyard, canteen...
This encourages the participation of children in issues that concern them directly and makes them more responsible. They develop a social and civic awareness and give them the opportunity to work "differently" on their command of language, both oral and written, and on their ability to make themselves heard and express their ideas.
Protecting children's health
Action Education believes that it is necessary to ensure the well-being and rights of all children in order to guarantee their access to quality education.
One of our priorities is therefore to provide children with a healthy environment. Poor sanitary conditions have a considerable impact on children's schooling. Repeated illnesses lead to absenteeism and discourage parents from sending their children to school.
We also attach particular importance to the nutrition of the children we accompany.
Combating child labour
Children are also exposed to the dangers of trafficking and forced labour. In the world today, 160 million children are still forced to work and half of them are engaged in hazardous work.
Our priority is to ensure that no child is at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation such as forced marriage, rape, prostitution, labour, abandonment, trafficking or drug abuse.
We do this by raising awareness in communities and developing preventive measures to provide effective support to working children.