The theme of 2017's World Human Rights Day is 'Let's stand up for equality, justice and human dignity.' In the spirit of this theme and to make people aware of fundamental freedom and rights, and to provide them with a platform to come forward with their opinions, suggestions, ideas, and of course criticisms, Law & Our Rights has organised a legal write-up competition. The submissions were overwhelming and among our participants were students, academics, professionals, rights activists, and even rights conscious ordinary citizens from different sectors. On today's issue we hence publish the best two write-ups.
The World Human Rights Day that bears also special significance for Bangladesh which is an outcome of one of the human rights, i.e. 'Right to Self Determination'. All human rights enshrined in the UDHR are relevant for all of us in everyday as they were in 1948. We, therefore, should know our rights. Here, the human rights education can play an important role and the young people should come forward in this regard.
Right to Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education (Hereafter IEQE) is not only a human right in itself but also is quintessential for the exercise of all other human rights. Realising this importance, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide in Goal No. 4 a detailed outline, indicators and targets in order to ensure IEQE. In defining IEQE, the UNESCO emphasises quality learners (such as Early Childhood Development), quality learning environments (such as inclusive school environment and quality of infrastructure), quality content (such as student-centered, human rights addressing equality and non-discriminatory, standards-based curriculum structures etc), quality processes (such as continuing support for student centered-learning) and quality outcomes.
Realising the importance of IEQE for the next generation is unquestionable. Bangladesh as a UN member state is obligated to ensure IEQE according to ICESCR (Article 13) and UNCRC (Articles 28 and 29). Its commitment has been reflected in Articles 15 and 17 of its Constitution, and other domestic laws and policies such as the Compulsory Primary Education Act of 1990, the Rights and Protection of the Persons with Disabilities Act of 2013, the Perspective Plan 2010-2021, Vision 2021, National Sustainable Development Strategy, and the Seventh Five Year Plan 2016-20, etc.
However, evidence shows that despite huge success towards increasing access to education and enrolment rates, in practice, Bangladesh is still lagging far behind to ensure IEQE. Still there are enormous gaps between laws-policies and practice-implementation since domestic laws and policies has not adopted the principles of IEQE yet. For instance, the provision of education stated in Articles 15 and 17 of the Constitution is still not judicially enforceable. In the Compulsory Primary Education Act of 1990, the coverage and quality remains poor. The Draft Education Act of 2016 has no mentioning of adequacy and efficiency of resources and budgets for education, resource mobilisation and allocation. Still the existing policies promote different types of education system which is a barrier for the uniformity and quality.
To ensure the right to IEQE and achieve the SDG Goal 4, it is an urge to the government and relevant stakeholders to take the following policy recommendations into consideration: (i) include human rights education in the national curriculum from primary to tertiary; (ii) revise the Draft Education Act in light of the principles of IEQE; (iii) implement the existing laws against child marriage and promote the education of the girl child in particular; (iv) implement the Bangladesh Persons with Disability Welfare Act of 2001 and the Rights and Protection of the Persons with Disability Act of 2013; (v) amend existing laws and policies incorporating the provision of IEQE; (vi) amend the constitution inserting right to IEQE provision in Part III of the Constitution as fundamental right; and (vii) ensure the accountability in education sector.
The writer is Policy Analyst, Advocacy for Social Change Programme, BRAC.