Global Support for Free Education for All Children Is Growing

There are indicators of a possible huge advancement this year at the highest human rights body of the United Nations in Geneva, with increasing expectations for new legal recognition of every child’s right to free education from pre-primary through secondary education.

The Dominican Republic will meet at the Human Rights Council on March 20 with representatives from Luxembourg, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Panama, Nauru, Bulgaria, and Romania, as well as from Human Rights Watch, Plan International, and Girls Not Brides. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the urgent need for a new legal instrument. They will highlight how human rights and free pre-primary and secondary education are inextricably linked, with an emphasis on the empowerment of women and girls in particular.

Only 2 in 5 children in low- and lower-middle-income nations attend preprimary education programs, which is almost half of all children worldwide. Furthermore, in 2021, just 45% of kids finished secondary education. The expense of preprimary and secondary schooling continues to be a major deterrent to attendance for far too many kids. The world’s inability to provide free access to the entire educational cycle inhibits the advancement and development of society and perpetuates poverty and inequality.

However, a lot of middle-class and low-income nations are making great progress in expanding free education. There are at least 110 countries in the globe with laws ensuring free pre-primary and secondary education for at least a year, including Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, Nepal, and Sierra Leone.

However, this advancement has not kept up with international human rights law. For instance, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN treaty protecting children’s rights, makes no specific mention of early childhood education and does not require states to offer free secondary education on the same schedule as primary school. Growing support around the world is being generated by this disparity to incorporate these rights into a new legal document, the fourth optional protocol to the convention. New international law may therefore encourage the expansion of free education in nations where tuition is still required.

It is essential that additional states support this endeavor. Together, they can ensure that every kid has the opportunity to study and reach their full potential, creating the foundation for a more equitable and  equitable future.