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Education Rights, Social Justice and Transformation

The right to education enjoys recognition as a fundamental human right in key international legal instruments and in our Constitution. Various legal instruments under international human rights law oblige the state as a duty-bearer to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to education. Rights considerations in education straddle and inform every facet of the education system and the whole range of educational processes: policy, access, curriculum, management, budgeting, provisioning and teaching and learning. CERT’s approach emphasises rights to education, rights in education and rights through education. It is also informed by the work of Katarina Tomasevski, the late former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, who together with the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights developed a framework which sets out the scope and nature of the obligations on the state to fulfil the right to education as guaranteed by international laws.

CERT’s rights research encompasses (i) the teaching and learning of human rights that can contribute to the development of a critical citizenry able to sustain and play a part in the attainment of their own rights (ii) Their relationship to wider socio-economic rights (iii) The impact of neoliberalism and privatisation .
In researching education rights it is necessary to caution against an uncritical use of human rights instruments without applying them to pedagogical practice, an over-reliance on legal experts and ignoring the agency, struggles and activism of rights claimants and holders. Legal mechanisms and human rights instruments must be understood within the larger realities of power and social relations. Indicators are most effective when contextually adapted, supplemented by case studies and testimonies and part of campaigns or struggles linked to progressive social movements, trade unions or other collective organisations.
Lead Researcher: Salim Vally