2nd July 2015, has been recorded as one of the most important days in the history of United Nations and its efforts towards education for all. International civil society organisations welcomed a landmark resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) demanding the States to regulate and monitor private education providers, recognising the potential “wide-ranging impact of the commercialisation of education on the enjoyment of the right to education”. The UNHRC is the leading intergovernmental political body concerning human rights globally.
The resolution that was adopted with consensus of its 47 members has for the first time, responded to the growing phenomenon of privatisation and commercialisation of education. In recent times, ‘budget schools’ or ‘low-cost’ private schools targeting poor families, have especially been a great centre of attention for civil societies and other UN bodies. With the same motive of understanding the private players in education and its repercussions on the principles of social justice and equity, the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Education, produced a report concerning the negative effects of the same in society, whilst providing relevant recommendations.
Elie Jouen, Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour reacted: “I am delighted to welcome the adoption of a landmark resolution by the UNHRC, which brings forth the concerns on rapid commercialisation of education and the importance of regulating and monitoring private education providers. It is more than clear today that commercialisation and privatisation of education is constraining education as a public good. Privatisation where it has negative impacts violates many legal and moral norms of right to education and human rights treaties. Governments cannot be allowed to shy away from their obligation to provide just, equitable and non-discriminatory quality education to every child. Education is a fundamental human right of every human being and this resolution has rightly highlighted the government’s role as a sole custodian of quality education as a societal good. “
The resolution demands that the States “put in place a regulatory framework” that establish minimum standards and norms and “monitor private education providers”. It also calls on the States to ensure that the “education is consistent with human rights standards and principles”. One of the main highlights of this resolution is the confirmation that “education is a public good” and insists on the “significant importance of public investment in education, to the maximum of available resources.” Elaborating on this, Global March partner and board member, Education International remarks “Education for all children, youth and adults, is a key part of ensuring long term sustainability of development. However the growing commercialisation and privatisation of education is undermining the universal right to education.”
In conclusion, the resolution urges the states to “support research and awareness-raising activities to better understand the wide-ranging impact of the commercialisation of education on the enjoyment of the right to education.”
The resolution of the Human Rights Council can be found on: http://bit.ly/1IQEGAj
A summary of recent concluding observations from UN human rights bodies on privatisation in education: http://bit.ly/1QPZmlz
The last report of the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Education concerning the commercialisation of education: http://bit.ly/1CsI569