Rights based education sector planning and accountability: RTEI at the GPE Financing ConferenceFeb. 9, 2018
How can we create a world where the right to education is satisfied for all? Watch Tony Baker, Associate Director for Global Education at RESULTS Educational Fund, present about rights-based education sector planning and accountability at the 2018 Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference.
The GPE Financing Conference convened government officials and representatives from developing and donor countries, international organizations, private institutions, and civil society organizations to re-commit funding for and prioritize education worldwide, especially in international development. Baker's presentation occurred on Partnership Day, where civil society organizations and other partners organized short sessions around the following themes: education financing, education advocacy, education for the future, equity and inclusion, and education in emergencies.
Most societies have iterated some form of the "golden rule" of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
The Hindu Vedas, the Code of Hammurabi, the Bible, the Koran—humanity’s
oldest written sources deal with issues of duties, responsibilities, and
After the horrors of World War II, the nations of the world
came together and unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
In 1966, these were further enshrined in two treaties—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
As illustrated in red by the map behind me, almost all
countries—166 of them—have ratified the International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights. Among other
things, the covenant obligates governments to provide free primary education
and progressively free higher education beyond that.
50 years later, these basic obligations have not been met in
According to the latest data from UNESCO, 1 out of every 10
child is not in primary or lower secondary school in half of those countries.
When we look at available completion data, the lack of the
right to education spreads, with 89 countries having 1 in 10 children not
completing primary or lower secondary school.
And these countries highly correlate with those being
supported by the Global Partnership for Education, with GPE placing its efforts
where they’re needed the most.
We cannot wait any longer to fulfill fundamental human
rights. At RESULTS Educational Fund, we
and our partners have launched a new initiative to close the gap between
promises and reality. The Right to
Education Index is a global accountability initiative designed to monitor
national progress towards the fulfillment of the right to education, working
with governments, civil society, and others to accelerate it. RTEI is not a top-down, desk review index; it
is a capacity-building, research-to-advocacy program.
Building on years of work by the London-based Right to
Education Project which worked with human rights experts and academics to
develop a bank of indicators on the right to education, we’ve taken the 32
legally binding treaties and conventions that deal with the right to education,
extrapolated 79 indicators related to government obligations, and put them into
The questionnaire is completed by in-country civil society
using national data, peer reviewed by national research institutions, and made
available to governments for review.
Final results are used in reports and advocacy materials,
which are used to support in-country advocacy campaigns on the right to
RTEI operates on a two-year project cycle, with the first
year being research and data collection to complete the RTEI Questionnaire and
the second year seeing support to a subset of partners to develop and implement
in-country advocacy campaigns based on their findings.
Ultimately, all of this forms a platform for partnership and
support to coordinated advocacy efforts to realize the right to education.
We piloted RTEI in 5 countries in 2015 and ran the first
official round in 15 countries in 2016.
In 2017, the first year for RTEI advocacy, we worked with
national education coalitions and civil society in Honduras, Palestine,
Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and Indonesia on issues like school re-entry for pregnant
girls and young mothers in Tanzania, alternative discipline policies to end
corporal punishment in Zimbabwe, rights-based budgeting for SDG4 in Palestine,
and teacher training on inclusive education in Indonesia.
RTEI collaborates closely with the Global Campaign for
Education, the global network of national education coalitions in more than 100
countries around the world. These are
the civil society groups who are increasingly having a seat at the national
policy-making table in what GPE calls Local Education Groups.
And what we find is RTEI helping these groups strengthen
their inputs in these policy processes and changing the dialogue from one of
general civil society needs and demands to one of how to meet clear government
obligations to the right to education as stipulated by the treaties and
conventions that they’ve signed onto.
School fees as established by Zimbabwe’s Education Act and
its education sector plan are not only detrimental to the poor but, as found by
the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe, are in contravention to the international
and regional conventions that the government of Zimbabwe has ratified.
In Honduras, Foro Dakar, the national education coalition
there taking its name from the Education for All goals that were established
here in Dakar in 2000, found that enrollment of children with disabilities was
increasing but that two-thirds of schools were not pedagogically equipped to meet
their needs. Foro Dakar worked with
teachers, civil society, the National Board of Education, and technicians of
Honduras’ new education sector plan to address this situation.
While a development institution, this type of rights-based
education sector planning, and the subsequent rights-based financing of
education, is at the heart of GPE. The
first principle of GPE’s strategic plan is that education as a public good, a
human right, and an enabler of other rights.
In fact, many of the right to education indicators being
measured and monitored by RTEI correlate to those in GPE’s Results
Framework. Aspects like the quality of
education sector plans, public expenditure on education, and the availability of
trained teachers and essential learning resources are advocated by both, complimenting GPE seeking to make progress on the development agenda
and civil society seeking to fulfill the human rights one.
We believe that the combination of these leverage points can
make real change. Gordon Brown is fond
of calling education the “civil rights struggle of our generation.” But it’s much more than that. Human rights are the pinnacle of what we as
humanity are seeking to achieve in our collective journey together—a world in
which all basic needs of every man, woman, and child are met, allowing for prosperity
and growth for all.
After millennia of articulating our duties and
responsibilities to one another, some of these rights are becoming within
reach. We all know the obstacles in
front of us, but I believe we are at an exciting time in history with the right
institutions and platforms in place to move the needle on the right to
education and act collectively to make it a reality.
I’m Tony Baker, Associate Director for Global Education at RESULTS Educational Fund, and I thank you for your time.