Right to Education – Information, importance, characteristics

We explain what the right to education is, its essential characteristics and the role of the State. Also, education in Mexico.

What is the right to education?

The right to education is a fundamental human right, recognized in international conventions. It consists of having access to a free and compulsory primary education for every citizen, without distinction of race, sex, creed or social class.

Further, implies equitable access to higher education. It is especially about the elimination of any form of discrimination within the basic educational institution. More specifically, in the United Nations organizations it is spoken about as 4-A: Available (Available, in English), Acceptable, Accessible and Adaptable.

Entities such as Unesco and the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights are internationally responsible for promoting this right and making it known its importance for the full development of nations.

However, the right to education is not universally respected. It is calculated that 61 million children and 758 million adults in the world are illiterate for the absence of primary education, according to the Global Education Monitoring Report of the year 2016.

These figures are even more eloquent when the distinction between the educational access of women and men is weighed since in many cultures women occupy a subordinate place apart from all kinds of fundamental rights.

Importance of the right to education

Education is a tool for change and growth, which gives human beings the opportunity to plan a better future for themselves and also for their community.

A society with plural access to education is a society better able to give itself what it needs, to innovate and seek creative solutions to their traditional problems, and to enter the economic, political and cultural exchange that the globalized world poses in more egalitarian and less subordinate terms.

In addition, education affects other fundamental aspects of life, such as health, family and reproductive planning, work, etc. Therefore, the importance of free, free and direct access to education can never be over-emphasized.

The fight of certain non-governmental organizations in the world is to project and execute legal obligations so that the different countries offer their citizens a minimum of educational opportunities in accordance with international standards of demand.

Characteristics of the right to education

Taking into consideration the 4-A scheme proposed by the United Nations, we can say that the right to education must be guaranteed, essentially, as follows:

  • Availability. It refers to the presence of educational establishments throughout the territory, to satisfy the educational needs of the entire population. These schools require an adequate minimum infrastructure to house their students during the study period in an exclusive and uninterrupted manner, and must have the teaching and pedagogical materials necessary for effective learning.
  • Acceptability. Beyond infrastructure, educational institutions must have an educational program that is endorsed by the appropriate government agencies, whose contents are culturally and socially appropriate for the population, of good quality and acceptable to both students and their representatives.
  • Adaptability. The study programs must not only be normatively adequate but must be able to adapt to changes in society, many of which will be precisely introduced by the very presence of mass education. The country’s education professionals should be able to recognize, promote and guide the change in the study curricula taking it into account.
  • Accessibility. Under no circumstances should students be prevented from entering the educational establishment, discriminated against in it or subjected to conditions that violate their ability to study. On the other hand, the access routes to the school must be in the best possible way, so as not to physically impede the transit to or from the school to its place of return.

Role of the State in the right to education

The importance of education in public policy planning is universally accepted. In fact, in 1966 the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was signed, in which it was recognized that the State is the necessary guarantor to provide the necessary structure and resources for a quality education.

Various regional and global institutions explicitly subscribe to this idea. However, this does not prevent private institutions from collaborating in efforts to bring education to future generations. But the State is the maximum authority and the maximum person in charge in the supervision of the distributed contents.

Furthermore, it must guarantee the maintenance of institutions and the formation of the minimum human resources to feed the educational system and guarantee its quality and perpetuity.

Right to education in Mexico

The Mexican State is also committed by law, both internationally and nationally, to guarantee access to education for its citizens, attending to the cultural and ethnic characteristics of the enormously diverse Mexican population. And as in many other Latin American countries, this constitutes a real challenge.

The Mexican public sector supports the vast majority of basic schools (8 out of 10) and higher average (Two-thirds of the total). It also supports a policy of inclusion of marginalized or rural areas through tele-schools, preschool and indigenous or community primaries, and other similar initiatives.

Thus, since 2014 the Mexican State has reported (according to Senate reports) an increase in child enrollment at early ages, between 5 and 12 years.

However, the figures are considerably less encouraging after entering adolescence. There are worrying dropout figures, motivated by a variety of factors: poverty, child labour, drug addiction and lack of family support.

On the other hand, the levels of inequality between the urban and rural populations have not been so alarming, but the inequality linked to belonging to the numerous Mexican ethnic groups has been, which reveals a clear racial problem underlying educational policies.