Education Is a Human Right

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By Dr. Felicity Crawford

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.”

– Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat, seventh secretary-general of the United Nations, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize

To learn, to play, to study – these activities represent a basic human right that should be enjoyed among children everywhere– so says advocates for children in just about every civil society and in key global organizations, like United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNICEF. In fact, to secure such rights, the United Nations and UNICEF in 1989 constructed a legally binding set of non-negotiable standards and obligations, The Convention of the Rights of the Child, which was aimed at protecting and preserving the human rights of children (among them, a right to education – see Article 28). Although this document was signed by 191 of 193 countries, educational opportunities have been either slow in coming or else inequitably distributed among more than 101 million children worldwide. Children living in rising and developed nations are not exempt (examples: China, U.S., Canada, India, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, Israel, Ireland, Ghana, countries in Latin America and East Asia, to name a few). Not only is the absence of high quality educational opportunity harmful to children, it minimizes the emergence of ideas that foster the peace building efforts that are necessary for our very survival as people.

Among the many questions I would like for us (educators and other key stakeholders) to contemplate are the following:

  1. Who, among us, should bear the responsibility of acting on behalf of children?
  2. What schools of thought, theories and or mechanisms could we most appropriately employ towards ensuring that youths everywhere can responsibly give birth to tomorrow’s promises?
  3. Is it enough, in this 21st century world, where conflict and insecurity abounds, to take responsibility only for children within our respective geographical borders?

Our future lies in our capacity to collaboratively resolve the challenges that exist even as we try to envision positive changes in the respective geographical places that we occupy. Let’s talk…

Dr. Felicity Crawford is an associate professor of Special Education in the Teacher of Students with Moderate Disabilities Program. She brings the perspective of an experienced preK-12 educator who has worked for many years, and at every grade level, in racially and culturally diverse classroom settings.

3 Comments…

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  1. In the global society of the 21st century, we must all advocate for the equitable, meaningful education of children everywhere. What’s more, it is time to put our money – and our actions – where our mouth is to support all children, whether in our neighborhoods or across the globe, to realize the educational rights manifested in the UN Convention. Consideration must be given to individual skills, abilities, and interests (rather than deficits and difficult circumstances) and attention paid to innate supports needed to bring talents to fruition.

  2. Important issues highlighted here and reminds us that education must no longer be a privilege but a right for all youth who must contribute to the collective intelligence our world needs now and for the future.

  3. Our children are our responsibility. As caring adults we are all responsible to ensure that , all children have access to meaningful education wherever they are. I believe all children regardless of geographical boundaries deserve access to quality education where they are treated with love and respect by caring and respectful educators, parents and other adults.It is important to continue to raise the awareness about the educational rights enshrined in the UN Convention of the rights of the child thereby making the world a better place for all.