CLADE holds workshop and continues to promote initiatives on the demandability of the right to education
March 20, 2008
The Latin-American Campaign for the Right to Education continues to promote initiatives related to the demandability of the right to education. After publishing and launching the book entitled Las Nuevas Leyes de Educación en América Latina (New Education Laws in Latin America), CLADE held a workshop, to discuss the subject matter, at the end of January in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. The workshop was attended by approximately 50 activists affiliated to the Campaign in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Mexico. According to Camilla Croso, coordinator of the Campaign, "the goal was to leverage local entities’ ability (national forums and campaigns) to press charge and litigate States that violate the human right to education within their territories."
The workshop was attended by: the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Vernor Muñoz; Carmen Espinoza, representing Plataforma Interamericana de Direitos Humanos, Democracia e Desenvolvimento (Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development - PIDHDD / Chile) and Liliana Tojo, director of Center for Justice and International Law - CEJIL Argentina.
During her presentation, Ms. Espinoza highlighted that States must respect all human rights (they cannot enforce any measure that hinders citizens' full fruition of their rights), protect them (intervene in cases where people obstruct fruition thereof) and implement them (implement measures to ensure that every citizen fully benefits from their rights).
Ms. Espinoza further noted that demandability is a social, political and legal process. Stating that, "these three perspectives cannot move separately," she pointed out that there are two strategies of action: political (involvement, enforcement of laws and mobilization) and judicial (justiciability, formalizing lawsuits, relating to the public prosecutor’s office, citizen’s protection bureaus and other mechanisms that uphold the effective enforcement of said right). "On the political front, one must seek to transform power structures which requires an alternative project of society . We have much to develop in this regard. That is to say, this is not only a technical project, but a political one. Our progress in this regard, that is, social transformation, may be deemed timid, but that is precisely how the justiciability of human rights consolidates itself, one step at a time," states Ms. Espinoza.
Ms. Liliana Tojo, representing CEJIL, detailed how the international, and regional, human rights protection system works. "The right to education continues to be a subject matter that is superficially covered by international law. One of the reasons is because few denunciations are made. Then again, one only needs one sufficiently well-grounded international case for others to be brought," affirms Ms. Tojo.
She highlighted the strategic importance of suits that bring the issue into international debate. "Let me point out three strategically positive results that an international suit may bring: firstly, include a new issue in the agenda, something which had not been achieved in the past; secondly, establish a mechanism to dialog with local authorities; and thirdly it may lead to a Court decision that demands enforcement of something important," details Ms. Tojo.
According to Vernor Muñoz, even if the right to education is established in a number of statements, pacts, covenants, the reality is that the right to education continues to be questioned, even from a legal standpoint. "For example, many constitutions do not uphold education as a right," affirms Mr. Muñoz.
He believes that civil society must demand specific obligations from the State in regard to the right to education:
- Unrestricted supply: the State must offer facilities for all types of students. Build schools as a response to the many demands made.
- Ensure access: building schools is only part of the job. One must ensure that access thereto is available to every citizen (this includes transportation access, subsidies, appropriate facilities).
- Adapt the supply of education to meet children´s interests, and to meet cultural differences and specific requirements of each group or individual. This means ensuring that people remain in school.
- Offer education alternatives that are acceptable to those attending school. Education must be of good quality, but also respect cultural characteristics of the specific group it targets.
- Ensure that the final goal of education is to achieve human transformation. That is, every education project must, mandatorily, encompass knowledge regarding other civilizations and peaceful coexistence.
"It is fundamental that civil society organizations achieve political and legal conditions to demand the right to education, and above all, in the case of more vulnerable groups (such as rural communities, people with special learning needs, migrants, girls, indigenous populations, among others and), whose rights are more often violated", states Camilla Croso, general coordinator of CLADE.
CLADE has a number of planned initiatives for the following months, in regard to political and legal demandability of the right to education, to be carried out in partnership with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development and the Center for Justice and International Law. Initiatives include technical visits to some countries, initiatives targeting national legal systems in Latin America, as well as denunciation of more serious violations to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.