MMM teams push for strengthening the right to education


UN Geneva – A resolution aimed at strengthening the right to education in international legal instruments will be negotiated during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council, which began on 18 June. This resolution is an important step towards establishing an intergovernmental working group to begin negotiations on a new optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, extending the right to education beyond primary education. MMM has been actively supporting this initiative from the outset.

Launched in 2023 in Geneva and led by the International NGO Human Rights Watch in partnership with Child Rights Connect (of which MMM is a member), the initiative aims to draw up and adopt a fourth optional protocol to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. This optional protocol, which would have the status of an international treaty, would explicitly recognise that the right to education includes the right (1) to early childhood education, (2) to at least one year of free pre-primary education, and (3) to free secondary education.

Indeed, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), guarantees children free and compulsory primary education, but says nothing about early childhood education, and it does not oblige states to guarantee every child free secondary education.

According to UNICEF, globally, nearly half of all children are not enrolled in pre-primary education. And if an estimated 87 percent of children worldwide completed primary school in 2021, secondary completion rates lag far behind: the 2023 Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals report indicates that only 58 percent completed secondary school that year  The cost of schooling remains a significant barrier to attendance for millions of children worldwide, in particular for girls.

At MMM we believe that Care and Education are intimately linked and that they are the cornerstones of our societies. The Covid 19 pandemic has reminded us of how fundamental they are to us. This resolution would contribute to the realisation of several of the 2023 Agenda’s SDGs (notably SDG4 and SDG5).

Care and education are also collective responsibilities, and too many parents, especially mothers, still have to make up for the lack of appropriate services, in particular for early childhood care and education.

Our MMM teams have been actively supporting this initiative since it was launched, both in Geneva and at the UNESCO, disseminating information and rallying other NGOs. At the European level, MMM also co-signed a letter to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the current President of the Council of the European Union, to call for support of the resolution.

On the civil society side, other NGOs are supporting this project with MMM, as are international academics. More than 70 academics from all over the world have written a letter supporting the initiative, which will be presented at the human rights council. The letter lays out the scientific evidence showing that education is foundational to children’s healthy development and lifelong prospects, and highlights that international law has not kept pace with research showing the benefits of education.

Among Member States, more than 73 countries now support this project. In addition to Luxembourg, the Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone who have drafted the resolution, other members of the core group are Armenia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Cyprus, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nauru, Panama and Romania.

A letter signed by 22 NGOs including MMM was sent early June to all the diplomatic missions in Geneva in order to rally additional Member States’ support.

We hope that governments will rally around this resolution that could bring about positive change for millions of people around the world, in particular for girls, our future mothers.

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