Right to education handbook

Right to education handbook

The international community adopted the Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015, which established an ambitious and transformational vision to respond to the tremendous challenges to sustainable development, with the determination to ensure that no one is left behind. The ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for education are captured in Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which seeks to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030.

In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. However, there are challenges to the achievement of the right to education in every country and in every context. Sometimes these are acute, for example during armed conflict or after natural disasters. In a rapidly changing world, new challenges emerge, for example with new commercially-oriented providers who may be more concerned with achieving profits than fulfilling rights. It is imperative that states move beyond rhetorical commitment to the right to education and start ensuring that human rights are respected in full.

With these challenges in mind, UNESCO and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. UNESCO encourages Member States of the Organization to use normative action in relation with the right to education as a strategic tool to implement and achieve SDG4. This handbook could also serve as a reference tool for the design and organization of training modules and workshops in the field of right to education.


Date of publication: 2020

Published by: UNESCO and Rights to Education Initiative

Langue: French and English

Download: Report in French and in English