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Special Rapporteur on the right to education


As defined by General Comment No. 13 of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (the body in charge of monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the States which are party to it), “education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realizing other human rights. As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities. Education has a vital role in empowering women, safeguarding children from exploitative and hazardous labour and sexual exploitation, promoting human rights and democracy, protecting the environment, and controlling population growth. Increasingly, education is recognized as one of the best financial investments States can make. But the importance of education is not just practical: a well-educated, enlightened and active mind, able to wander freely and widely, is one of the joys and rewards of human existence”.

According to the Committee, “education in all its forms and at all levels shall exhibit the following interrelated and essential features: a) availability; b) accessibility; c) acceptability; and d) adaptability”.

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education was established to examine these crucial issues and to provide recommendations to Governments and other stakeholders. Ms. Koumbou Boly-Barry was appointed in 2016, and is the fourth holder of a mandate established in 1998.

For more on the human right to education, please refer to International Standards and other relevant texts.

"In the fulfilment of his mandate, the Special Rapporteur:

  • Undertakes Country Visits (see Country visits);
  • Responds to information received on allegations concerning violations of the right to education in particular countries (see Individual complaints);
  • Develops constructive dialogue with Governments, civil society and other relevant actors with a view to identify solutions for the implementation of the right to education.
  • Submits annual reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly covering the activities relating to the mandate (see Annual reports)."

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