By Ram Gaire, National Coalition for Education (NCE) Nepal
Education is a basic human right, and it is the state’s responsibility to provide education to all on a fair and equal basis, especially for marginalised women, adult learners, youth, and children. There are different international human rights instruments that conform to education with human rights-based standards, not only in the formal education system, but also beyond the classroom.
After 4 years of implementation of the SDGs, more than 200 million children are out of the school system. Those who are in the school system have not been able to benefit from proper learning proficiencies. The majority of out-of-school children and youth are from marginalised and deprived communities. Hence, extra interventions are needed by the government and other stakeholders for marginalised communities to benefit from the system. A human rights perspective is necessary to ensure that equal rights of those communities to education are protected, respected, and fulfilled.
There is an urgent need of additional funding mechanisms. In this context, a human rights-based approach to education financing should be applied where funds are allocated without discrimination based on caste, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, geography etc. Also, human rights-based financing enables states to follow national and international legal policies, laws, priorities, and commitments that are aligned to SDG 4. In the same way, human rights-based financing focuses budget transparency where information and data are easily available and accessible
For human rights-based financing, the four S’s are tools to hold states accountable to their commitments towards education financing. The four S’s are – Size of the budget is the % of the national economy (GNP/GDP). The share of the budget is % of the national budget. Sensitivity is to ensure equity in budget allocations. This is especially important for the Asia Pacific as it is a region which needs to pay special attention to issues related to women and girls (especially from poor households), children, youth, adult learners, adult illiterates, especially in rural and hard-to-reach areas, indigenous people and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, undocumented migrants and refugees, out of school children and youth, and those affected by conflicts and disasters, especially in fragile states/areas. A budget that is sensitive would be well equipped to address the concerns of such communities and groups. Scrutiny is important for civil society organisations (CSOs) to ensure that the budget is participatory and transparent and to advocate for legal frameworks and mechanisms for CSO participation and for monitoring mechanisms.
In short, the right to education is an uncompromisable agenda. There needs to be extra effort from governments, UN agencies, and bi-lateral and multilateral agencies to address the huge financing gap in current budgetary allocations.
Governments should consider the following to ensure that the right to education is respected, fulfilled, and protected –
- A strong public educationsystem to realise the rights to education.
- Political will to address inequity in education and for good governance
- Funding priority for womenand the furthest behind(children with disabilities, marginalised youth)
- Scale-up, sustain, and improve programmes that effectively address equity.
- No further delay in budgetary allocations and ensure accountability and transparency in financial management.
- Clear, strong financing commitment and strategy such as a progressive increase in public investment for education.
- Increase domestic revenues through key tax reforms; end tax exemption; address tax evasion and avoidance
- No commercialisation of education and enforce regulation of the private sector in education to ensure equity, non-discrimination, and the right to education.
- A vibrant civil society on SDG 4 for maintaining equity, social justice. and peace.