Articles on right to education

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newspaper right to education

Pregnant learners in South Africa need creches and compassion to keep them in school

Nirvana Pillay , University of the Witwatersrand

newspaper right to education

People with intellectual disability have a right to sexuality – but their families have concerns

Callista Kahonde , Stellenbosch University

newspaper right to education

Protecting education should be at the centre of peace negotiations in Afghanistan

Lauryn Oates , Royal Roads University and Homa Hoodfar , Concordia University

newspaper right to education

Zimbabwe’s education law now does more for children, but there are still gaps

Rongedzayi Fambasayi , North-West University

newspaper right to education

COVID-19 : Provinces must respect children’s rights to education whether or not schools reopen in September

Anne Levesque , L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

newspaper right to education

How a South African court case reminded adults of the rights of children

Usang Maria Assim , University of the Western Cape

newspaper right to education

CAR: a society without authority, where children’s schooling suffers

Marieke Hopman , Maastricht University

newspaper right to education

South Africa is failing the rights of children to education and health

Magnus Killander , University of Pretoria

newspaper right to education

Education under occupation: everyday disruption at a Palestinian university

Brendan Ciarán Browne , Queen's University Belfast

newspaper right to education

Nobel Peace Prize: extraordinary Malala a powerful role model

Nazima Rassool , University of Reading

newspaper right to education

Higher education plans breach international rights covenant

Jane Kotzmann , Deakin University and Kay Souter , Deakin University

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The Right Has an Opportunity to Rethink Education in America

Cecily Myart-Cruz and UTLA protest against LAUSD

T he casual observer can be forgiven if it looks like both the left and the right are doing their best to lose the debate over the future of American education.

On the left, public officials and self-righteous advocates practically fall over themselves working to subsidize and supersize bloated bureaucracies, hollowed-out urban school systems, and campus craziness. They’ve mutely watched teacher strikes shutter schools and insisted that “true history” requires the U.S. to be depicted as a cesspool of racism and villainy .

Meanwhile, on the right, bleating outrage impresarios have done their best to undercut the easy-to-make case for educational choice by weaving it into angry tirades against well-liked local schools. They’ve taken Taylor Swift, a strait-laced pop star beloved by middle school and high school girls, and imagined her as part of some bizarre Biden Administration PSYOP. Heck, they’ve even decided to try to “ take down ” Martin Luther King, Jr., a Civil Rights icon honored for his legacy of justice, equality, and nonviolence.

What gives?

The left has a problem. Democrats have long benefited from alliances with teacher unions, campus radicals, and the bureaucrats who run the college cartel. This played well with a public that tended to  like  its teachers, schools, and colleges. But  pandemic school closures ,  plunging trust in colleges , and  open antisemitism  have upended the status quo.

This has created an extraordinary opportunity for the right—free of ties with unions, public bureaucracies, and academe—to defend shared values, empower students and families, and rethink outdated arrangements. The right is uniquely positioned to lead on education because it’s not hindered by the left’s entanglements, and is thus much freer to rethink the way that early childhood, K-12, and higher education are organized and delivered.

The right also needs to demonstrate that it cares as much (or more) about the kitchen table issues that affect American families as the culture war issues that animate social media. Affordability, access, rigor, convenience, appropriateness, are the things that parents care about, and the right needs something to offer them.

The question is whether the right will choose to meet the moment at a time when too many public officials seem more interested in social media exposure than solving problems.

We’re optimists. We think the right can rise to the challenge.

It starts with a commitment to principle, shared values, and real world solutions. This is easier than it sounds. After all, the public  sides  with conservatives on hot-button disputes around race, gender, and American history by lopsided margins. Americans broadly  agree  that students should learn both the good and bad about American history,  reject  race-based college admissions,  believe  that student-athletes should play on teams that match their biological sex, and  don’t think  teachers should be discussing gender in K–3 classrooms.

And, while some thoughtful conservatives recoil from accusations of wading into “culture wars,” it’s vital for to talk forthrightly about shared values. Wall Street Journal-NORC  polling , for instance, reports that, when asked to identify values important to them, 94 percent of Americans identified hard work, 90 percent said tolerance for others, 80 percent said community involvement, 73 percent said patriotism, 65 percent said belief in God, and 65 percent said having children. Schools should valorize hard work, teach tolerance, connect students to their community, promote patriotism, and be open minded towards faith and family.

At the same time, of course, educational outcomes matter mightily, for students and the nation . A commitment to rigor, excellence, and merit is a value that conservatives should unabashedly champion. And talk about an easy sell! More than 80 percent of Americans say standardized tests like the SAT should matter for college admissions . Meanwhile, California’s Democratic officials recently approved new math standards that would end advanced math in elementary and middle school and Oregon’s have abolished the requirement that high school graduates be literate and numerate. The right should both point out the absurdity of such policies and carry the banner for high expectations, advanced instruction, gifted programs, and the importance of earned success.

When it comes to kitchen table issues, conservatives can do much more to support parents. That means putting an end to chaotic classrooms. It means using the tax code to provide more financial assistance. It means making it easier and more appealing for employers to offer on-site daycare facilities. It means creating flexible-use spending accounts for both early childhood and K–12 students to support a wide range of educational options. It means pushing colleges to cut bloat and find ways to offer less costly credentials. This means offering meaningful career and technical options so that a college degree feels like a choice rather than a requirement, making it easier for new postsecondary options to emerge, and requiring colleges to have skin in the game when students take out loans (putting the schools on the hook if their students aren’t repaying taxpayers).

Then there’s the need to address the right’s frosty relationship with educators. It’s remarkable, if you think about it, that conservatives—who energetically support cops and have a natural antipathy for bureaucrats and red tape—have so much trouble connecting with teachers. Like police, teachers are  well-liked  local public servants frustrated by bureaucracy and paperwork. It should be easy to embrace discipline policies that keep teachers safe and classrooms manageable, downsize bloated bureaucracy and shift those dollars into classrooms, and tend to parental responsibilities as well as parental rights.  

There’s an enormous opportunity for the right to lead on education today. The question is whether we’re ready to rise to the challenge.

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Education and Schools

newspaper right to education

The Youngest Pandemic Children Are Now in School, and Struggling

Teachers this year saw the effects of the pandemic’s stress and isolation on young students: Some can barely speak, sit still or even hold a pencil.

By Claire Cain Miller and Sarah Mervosh

newspaper right to education

Reopen N.Y.C. Libraries on Sundays? Yes. Free 3-K for All? Not Quite.

Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council reached a $112 billion budget deal that restored some unpopular cuts to key programs.

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons and Jeffery C. Mays

newspaper right to education

Free Preschool With One Catch: It May Be a Long Commute Away

Many New York City families counted on the prospect of free preschool, but hundreds were not immediately offered a seat and may have to travel across town to available spots.

By Troy Closson

newspaper right to education

Watch These Cute Videos of Babies (and Learn Something, Too)

A social media account features smiley toddlers, while also offering positive lessons about child development.

By Dana Goldstein

newspaper right to education

How Patty Murray Used Her Gavel to Win $1 Billion for Child Care

A self-described “mom in tennis shoes,” now the Senate Appropriations Committee leader, managed to win an increase in child care subsidies in a spending freeze.

By Catie Edmondson

newspaper right to education

Why Free 3-K Is So Crucial for New York City Parents

Many families were counting on a break from crippling child care costs. Mayor Eric Adams’s cuts have cast doubt on their expectations.

By James Barron

newspaper right to education

A $30,000 Question: Who Will Get a Free Preschool Seat in New York City?

After Mayor Eric Adams made cuts to free preschool for 3-year-olds, families face increased uncertainty — and the prospect of enormous child care bills.

newspaper right to education

What the Child Care Crisis Does to Parents

The child care crisis, which has intensified since pandemic-era funding expired in September, is placing an undue and unhealthy burden on American parents.

By Molly Dickens and Lucy Hutner

newspaper right to education

Her Son Was Promised a Special Education Class. He’s Still Waiting.

Mayor Eric Adams said all children who required preschool special education seats would have them. More than 1,000 such students lacked a placement last school year.

newspaper right to education

New York’s Era of Overspending Ends With a Shudder

Fiscal reality is finally hitting the city. Will Mayor Adams make the right choices when cutting the budget?

By Mara Gay

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Right to Education

Education as a human right means:

  • The right to education is guaranteed legally for all without any discrimination
  • States have the obligation to protect, respect and fulfil the right to education
  • There are ways to hold States accountable for violations or deprivations of the right to education.

Every year, at its June session, the Human Rights Council adopts a Resolution on the Right to Education led by Portugal and sponsored by several states. The resolutions can be found on the United Nations Digital Library . The latest edition, from June 2019, can be found here .

What is the content of the right to education?

The right to education encompasses both entitlements and freedoms, including:

  • Right to free and compulsory primary education
  • Right to available and accessible secondary education (including technical and vocational education and training), made progressively free
  • Right to equal access to higher education on the basis of capacity made progressively free
  • Right to fundamental education for those who have not received or completed primary education
  • Right to quality education both in public and private schools
  • Freedom of parents to choose schools for their children which are in conformity with their religious and moral convictions
  • Freedom of individuals and bodies to establish and direct education institutions in conformity with minimum standards established by the State Academic freedom of teachers and students.

What guarantees education as a right?

International human rights law guarantees the right to education. The  Universal Declaration on Human Rights , adopted in 1948, proclaims in its article 26: "everyone has the right to education".

Since then, the right to education has been widely recognised and developed by a number of international normative instruments elaborated by the United Nations, including the  International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights , the  Convention on the Rights of the Child  and the  UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education .

The universality of the right to education has been reaffirmed in other treaties covering specific groups , such as for women and girls , persons with disabilities , migrants , refugees , indigenous people and those who may face other forms of discrimination , and in other contexts, such as in conflict zones . It has also been incorporated into various regional treaties and enshrined as a right in the vast majority of national constitutions.

International humanitarian law , which regulates the conduct of parties in armed conflicts, also includes provisions on the right to education and education more generally, for example, the protection of students, education staff and educational facilities.

Education is principally protected in international humanitarian law by the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols. The key obligations include:

  • Protection of civilian persons and objects including schools, teachers and students. This is underpinned by the ‘principle of distinction’, that is, there is a fundamental difference between civilian and military persons and objects, and only military persons and objects may be subject to direct attack. (Hospitals may never be used as military bases but in certain circumstances schools can.) (Articles 48 and 51, Additional Protocol 1; Article 13, Additional Protocol II.)
  • Protection of orphans and children separated from their families. This includes providing education to all those aged fifteen and below (Article 24, Geneva Convention IV).
  • During civilian internment, detaining powers shall ensure the education of children and young people either within internment or outside. Also, internees shall be granted the opportunity - through granting all possible facilities - to receive education, continue their studies, and take up new subjects, participate in sports and recreational activities (Article 94, Geneva Convention IV).
  • The special protection of children, this includes the obligation of parties to the conflict to provide children with the care and aid they require, whether because of their age or for any other reason. This can be construed to include appropriate education (Article 77, Additional Protocol I).
  • In times of belligerent occupation, occupying powers shall facilitate the working of educational institutions and ensure, where possible, that education is provided by persons of the learner’s own nationality, language and religion (Article 50' Geneva Convention IV).
  • In civil conflicts, children shall receive an education, including religious and moral education consistent with the religious and moral convictions of their parents or guardians (Article 4, Additional Protocol II).
  • It is also worth mentioning the International Safe Schools Declaration adopted in 2015, a non legally binding instruments, which includes the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use . 
  • International Safe Schools Declaration (2015) which includes the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use . There are currently (as of 16 June 2017) 66 endorsements of the Declaration

Furthermore, 161 countries have legal provisions for free primary and secondary school , and 149 countries safeguard the right to education in their constitution .  Various aspects of the right to education are protected in at least 42 international and regional instruments, including in seven of the nine core UN human rights treaties. In fact, every State has legally committed to the right to education, and “[a]ll States in the world ratified at least one treaty protecting the right to education” ( Aubry and Dorsi, 2016, p.3 ). Despite this, numerous challenges remain in ensuring the right to education for all. As of 2018, less than 1 in 5 countries legally guaranteed 12 years of free and compulsory education due to formal and institutional barriers, as well as insufficient resources. In addition, the right to education is only a legally enforceable constitutional right in 107 States , or 55 per cent of states that include the right to education in their national constitutions.

Why is the right to education fundamental?

Both individuals and society benefit from the right to education.  It is fundamental for human, social and economic development and a key element to achieving lasting peace and sustainable development. It is a powerful tool in developing the full potential of everyone and in promoting individual and collective wellbeing.

  • It is an empowerment right
  • It lifts marginalised groups out of poverty
  • It is an indispensable means of realising other rights
  • It contributes to the full development of the human personality.

This collection was developed with the support of Kate Moriarty, Senior Advisor, Strategic Engagement & Dialogue at INEE, and Delphine Dorsi, Executive Coordinator at Right to Education.

Right to education handbook

This handbook was developed to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal. 

Guide to Monitoring the Right to Education

This Right to Education Monitoring Guide (‘ Guide ’) is an easy to use, step-by-step guide to monitoring problems in education, using a human rights-based approach. This  Guide  aims to demystify and simplify the monitoring process and ensure that the right to education remains the focus of your advocacy efforts.

Human Rights Obligations: Making Education Available, Accessible, Acceptable and Adaptable

These issues are addressed in Primer No. 5; this text is discussing governmental obligations at the domestic level. The right to education is routinely classified as an economic, social and cultural right; these are often deemed to be lacking remedies and are accordingly treated as quasi-rights or not-quite rights.

UN General Assembly Resolution on the Right to Education in Emergency Situations

Urges Member States to implement strategies and policies to ensure and support the realization of the right to education as an integral element of humanitarian assistance and humanitarian response, to the maximum of their available resources

Protecting Education in Insecurity and Armed Conflict: An International Law Handbook

Given the continued attacks on education committed worldwide, and the importance of education, the protection of education in insecurity and armed conflict continues to deserve global attention, including from the legal community. The second edition of the Handbook incorporates all of the relevant developments which have occurred since 2012.

​The Safe Schools Declaration: a Framework for Action

This Framework for Action seeks to provide governments with a non-exhaustive list of suggestions, recommendations, and examples that can assist them as they determine the appropriate way to implement the commitments made through endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.

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Articles & papers, l'avenir du droit à l'éducation : document de recherche et d’orientation concernant l'initiative sur l'évolution du droit à l'éducation.

Ce document de recherche et d’orientation étudie certains aspects du droit à l'éducation qui pourraient nécessiter un ancrage plus solide dans le cadre normatif international et une expansion potentielle pour le 21st siècle. L'éducation numérique, la mobilité croissante des personnes, l'évolution démographique, le changement climatique et les attentes en matière de possibilités d'apprentissage tout au long de la vie ne sont que quelques-uns des domaines qui mettent à l'épreuve les limites du cadre normatif international existant.

  • Read more about L'avenir du droit à l'éducation : Document de recherche et d’orientation concernant l'initiative sur l'évolution du droit à l'éducation

Bringing into focus the future of the right to education: Policy-oriented research paper as part of the Initiative on the evolving right to education

This policy-oriented research paper investigates some of the aspects of the right to education that might require a stronger footing in the international normative framework and potential expansion for the 21st century. Digital education, increasing human mobility, changing demographics, climate change, and expectations of opportunities for learning throughout life are just a few of the areas that are testing the limits of the existing international normative framework.

  • Read more about Bringing into focus the future of the right to education: Policy-oriented research paper as part of the Initiative on the evolving right to education

The right to higher education and rethinking merit - Briefing note compendium

In this briefing note compendium, UNESCO IESALC presents the findings of a thematic consultation dedicated to rethinking merit and critically discussing the structural barriers surrounding this concept. The briefing note compendium presents experts’ views on the various challenges associated with merit and some ideas to restart the debate and promote the right to higher education from a social justice perspective.

Within this compendium is a paper published by Delphine Dorsi entitled 'Capacity or Merit? Rethinking notions in access to higher education', pp.18-19.

  • Read more about The right to higher education and rethinking merit - Briefing note compendium

Technology and education in light of human rights

In her 2022 Report on the impact of the digitalisation of education on the right to education, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education clarified that any introduction of digital technologies in education must be framed around the right of every person to public, free, quality education and the commitments of states in this regard both under international human rights law and Sustainable Development Goal 4.

  • Read more about Technology and education in light of human rights

New beginnings: The right to equality and early childhood care and education

While South Africa has seen important advances in the provision of early childhood care and education (ECCE), about 3.2 million children still lack access to any programme. Problems of access and quality are most pronounced in the poorest communities. Even before Covid-19 forced many providers to close, these programmes were overcrowded, with poor infrastructure, and an under-paid and under-qualified workforce. ECCE is crucial for a child’s development, meaning that these inequalities are amplified in school and later life.

  • Read more about New beginnings: The right to equality and early childhood care and education

Human rights to evaluate evidence on non-state involvement in education

newspaper right to education

This background paper prepared for the Global Education Monitoring Report on non-States' actors in education: Who chooses? Who looses? provides both the rationale and the framework for re-centring a human rights’ perspective in education sector analysis.

  • Read more about Human rights to evaluate evidence on non-state involvement in education

A human rights approach: The right to education in the time of COVID-19

One of the most serious consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the disruption of children’s education worldwide with the closure of schools for public health reasons. Projections from UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that nearly 100 million children across eight age cohorts would move below the minimum proficiency threshold in reading in 2020 due to the pandemic (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2021).

  • Read more about A human rights approach: The right to education in the time of COVID-19

Child migration and access to Early Childhood Care and Education: Limitations in legal frameworks and other concerns

Early childhood, defined as the period from birth to eight years old, is a crucial time for the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional growth of children. Access to quality early childhood care and education (ECCE), therefore, can be vital in laying the foundations for children’s long-term development, well-being, learning, and health. Despite this, universal and equitable access to free, quality, and compulsory pre-primary education is one of the major education challenges. One out of two children does not receive pre-primary education.

  • Read more about Child migration and access to Early Childhood Care and Education: Limitations in legal frameworks and other concerns

Working paper | Public education works: five lessons from low- and middle-income countries

In recent decades, governments have made considerable efforts to provide education for all. However, a large gap remains between international commitments, such as the Sustainable Development Goal 4, and the actual achievement of equitable quality education for all. As a result, certain actors often critique public education as ineffective and inefficient, and thus incapable of addressing this issue. They argue for privatisation as a solution, deeming private providers as more innovative and effective than public ones.

  • Read more about Working paper | Public education works: five lessons from low- and middle-income countries

Dès le départ : construire des sociétés inclusives grâce à une éducation de la petite enfance inclusive

  • Read more about Dès le départ : construire des sociétés inclusives grâce à une éducation de la petite enfance inclusive

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E-Paper | July 11, 2024

Right to education.

newspaper right to education

EDUCATION is a child’s basic right. Even in times of conflict, war or disaster, temporary learning opportunities are set up as part of emergency relief to provide continued learning support.

Pakistan has an estimated 22.8 million children from five to 16 outside school. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and consequent school closures have resulted in millions more deprived of learning opportunities.

The disparity in education in Pakistan rears its ugly head again as millions of students face learning losses. Major barriers like the digital divide and the weakness of education systems threaten to increase further the vastly unequal learning opportunities available to the economically, geographically or politically disadvantaged.

According to data from the PTA website, 31.19 per cent of Pakistanis have access to the internet. For children belonging to the 68.8pc population without internet access, this pandemic means losing not just the only thing that provides routine — school — but also being deprived of their right to learn.

Low-income households in Pakistan do not have computer hardware. Out of the 78pc population that has mobile subscriptions, 35.9pc is online. Children from families that make up the 42pc not using 3G/4G — or the 22pc that do not have mobile subscriptions — have limited learning opportunities.

While we may have budding tech start-ups with millions of dollars of funding directed towards them, technology access, affordability and internet penetration are still out of the reach of millions.

Who will be held responsible for the students’ losses?

There are also areas where the digital divide is essentially caused in the name of political gains or matters of ‘national security’. These areas, even in today’s ‘digital Pakistan’, are not connected to the rest of this country or the global world because they lack basic internet connections and at times even mobile networks. Schoolchildren in these regions are deprived of every learning opportunity right now. University students suffer the same fate. Lockdowns forced students to return to their hometowns but then classes were shifted online with mandatory attendance requirements. Students of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir are frustrated because they do not have the internet access required to attend online classes. Who will take responsibility for the losses incurred by these students? Will the telecom network that has monopolised internet provision in the region be held responsible?

Most schoolchildren facing this digital divide come from marginalised households and are enrolled in public schools. They are already a part of the learning crisis. Not all school-going children learn, struggling with weak reading and writing skills, insufficient teachers and sub-par quality of teaching. With a dropout rate of 73pc for middle school, one of the world’s highest, Pakistan faces the risk of an increase in the rate. This sudden disengagement in learning will result in many students never returning to school.

The hardest hit will be young girls who take the burden of economic losses and are obliged to take care of household chores and younger siblings at the cost of learning. A recent data study by Malala Fund using data from the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic in several African countries, projects that around 10m secondary schoolgirls will not return to school after the pandemic.

While maximising access through alternative learning options is essential during the crisis, the quality of content and diversity of mediums will be the deciding factor for learning outcomes or engagement. Another important factor is support at home. In economically disadvantaged segments, most parents lack basic skills, time or interest to help their children learn at home. Our education systems often do not equip a child with skills like time management or independent learning. Mass parent awareness campaigns may improve the outcome of alternate learning options by providing support at home.

However, we have to admit that millions of children in this country will not have access to any learning in this period. To prevent these children from greater learning losses we must prepare for the challenges when schools resume. We must take help from those with expertise to design accelerated learning programmes to support students left behind and create strategies to reintegrate dropouts. We must design training programmes for teachers to give them the confidence to meet the needs of learners.

To come out of this pandemic stronger we must engage in discussions that go beyond the educational budget and school enrollment numbers. We must take into account the disparities that rob young children from marginalised communities of their right to education. It is time to open our eyes and understand that without quality education for all, we as a nation will always lag behind, regardless of the ‘potential’ we may have.

The writer is the founder of Innovate Educate & Inspire Pakistan, a nonprofit volunteer organisation.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2020

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Unschooling: the radical education trend raising eyebrows

Some parents are letting their children lead their education

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Since the pandemic, there has been a noticeable surge in homeschooling. Now, a different pedagogical trend called "unschooling" is gaining momentum, sparking controversy and debate online.

In June, spiritual influencer Mami Onami went viral after discussing unschooling or "free schooling" her children. "We don't teach our children anything," she said in a TikTok video. "Everything that they learn is in response to either their interest or their questions." With no set curriculum or school hours, she and her partner "just respond whenever [her kids] wanna know something and do our best to make sure they really get it." Mami Onami's declaration has led to backlash on social media, with many commenters questioning her parenting. However, she is not alone in pursuing this alternative route to educating her children. 

What is unschooling?

Unschooling can be broadly defined as "a method in which there is no imposed curriculum on the child," Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College and one of the founders of the Alliance for Self-Directed Education, said to Rolling Stone . This approach puts the child in charge of their learning and is "based on the idea that children naturally learn what they are naturally curious about," he said. The concept "encompasses a wide range of pedagogical philosophies," the outlet added. Some unschoolers stick to a schedule and provide light instruction on subjects like reading and math; others "eschew structure altogether, allowing their kids to create their own schedules." The overall lack of structure sets it apart from traditional homeschooling . 

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The anti-institutional unschooling ideology is rooted in the doctrine of eighth century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed children should be free to explore their own interests. Former school teacher and homeschool advocate John Holt coined the term unschooling in the 1970s. After "decades of virtual obscurity," interest in the "unorthodox method surged during the pandemic," said the New York Post . Internet searches for the term spiked in 2020, per a Google analytics report , "and it soared to similar heights in April 2024, owing to its trendiness on social media," said the Post. 

Like homeschooling, the unschooling community used to be largely comprised of white conservative Christians. However, the movement has become increasingly diverse , welcoming families from all backgrounds. Black families, in particular, have been gravitating toward the method more, viewing it as an integral part of "a larger Black liberation movement," Gray said to Rolling Stone. Contrary to popular belief that only middle- and upper-class families can afford to homeschool their children, unschooling families tend to be on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum, he added. People who choose this route have "values other than material value," and are "not as oriented towards high achievement in the usual sense."

'People are saying the system is broken'

With the public school system under increased scrutiny since the pandemic, people are being drawn toward alternative education paths for different reasons. Unschooling advocate Akilah Richards sees this as a social justice practice, defining unschooling as a "child-trusting, anti-oppression, liberatory love-centered approach to parenting and caregiving" in a YouTube video. Others worry that unschooling will prevent children from having the social interactions that will teach them to fit into broader society. But Onami told Rolling Stone that's intentional. "In so many different ways, people are saying the system is broken," she said. "And school is the institution that prepares people to live in that world." 

Still, in an increasingly polarized world, unschooling in siloed environments might further contribute to kids growing up isolated, Robert Kunzman, a professor of education at Indiana University and the managing director for the International Center for Home Education, said to Rolling Stone. One of the roles public schools play is to "prepare young people to be citizens in a democracy," he said. "When these alternative forms gained greater prominence, do they share that same commitment?"

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Theara Coleman has worked as a staff writer at The Week since September 2022. She frequently writes about technology, education, literature and general news. She was previously a contributing writer and assistant editor at Honeysuckle Magazine, where she covered racial politics and cannabis industry news. 

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Discover the new Right to education handbook

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Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. However, millions are still deprived of educational opportunities every day, many as a result of social, cultural and economic factors.

UNESCO and the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) recently released the Right to education handbook , a key tool for those seeking to understand and advance that right. It is also an important reference for people working towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education. 

Why is this handbook important?

The aim of this handbook is to make sure that everyone enjoys their right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. It provides practical guidance on how to implement and monitor the right to education along with recommendations to overcome persistent barriers. It seeks to do this by:

  • Increasing awareness and knowledge of the right to education. This includes the normative angle of the right to education, states’ legal obligations, the various sources of law, what states must do to implement it, how to monitor it, and how to increase accountability.
  • Providing a summary of current debates and issues regarding education and what human rights law says about them, including on forced migration, education in emergencies, the privatization of education, and the challenge of reaching the most marginalized.
  • Providing an overview of the UN landscape and its mechanisms, including a clear understanding of the role of UNESCO and more generally the United Nations, as well as all relevant actors in education, particularly civil society.  

Who should use this handbook?

The handbook was developed to assist all stakeholders who have a crucial role to play in the promotion and implementation of the right to education. This includes:

  • State officials, to ensure that education policies and practices are better aligned with human rights.
  • Civil servants, policy-makers, ministers, and the ministry of education staff, officials working in ministries and departments of justice, development, finance, and statistics, as well as National Human Rights Institutions.
  • Parliamentarians, their researchers and members of staff will find this handbook useful in evaluating and formulating education, human rights, and development legislation, and in implementing international human rights commitments to national law.
  • Judges, magistrates, clerks, and lawyers and other judicial officials can use the material to explain the legal obligations of the state and how to apply them.
  • Civil society including NGOs, development organizations, academics, researchers, teachers and journalists will benefit from this handbook as it includes guidance on how to incorporate the right to education in programmatic, research, and advocacy work.

Those who work for inter-governmental organizations, including at key UN agencies, will find this handbook useful in carrying out the mandate of their organizations. Private actors, multilateral and bilateral donors, and investors can use this handbook to ensure their involvement complies with human rights and that they understand and can apply their specific responsibilities.

How to use this handbook?

The handbook was designed to be accessible. Each chapter starts with the key questions addressed in the chapter and ends with a short summary consisting of key points and ‘ask yourself’ questions, designed to make the reader think deeper about issues raised in the chapter or to encourage people find out more about the situation in their own country.

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Spokane Public Schools to ban cellphone use in classrooms

Spokane Public Schools will ban cellphone use in classrooms next year.

The Spokane School Board on Wednesday reviewed its districtwide procedure detailing student cellphone use, advising the district to adopt a more stringent and comprehensive policy for use in classrooms.

The district plans to implement the proposal before school starts in September, superintendent Adam Swinyard said.

“I just really want to help the next generation as much as possible to have healthy boundaries,” board president Nikki Otero Lockwood said. “In doing this, we’re creating healthy boundaries, I believe.”

The proposed additions outline when students at each school level can use their mobile devices in school, with exceptions in each case for emergencies and administrator approval.

In high school, pupils will be barred from using their phones in classrooms, but still permitted during lunch, between class periods and before or after school.

Middle schoolers wouldn’t be allowed to use their phones during school hours, except during their lunch break, per the draft, though the board recommended prohibiting lunchtime use.

Elementary schools would impose the strictest procedures, only permitting use before and after school.

The proposal offers districtwide consistency on cellphone expectations, something that had previously been left up to schools to determine. Often, schools leave policies up to the discretion of teachers, creating a policy patchwork in classes and schools.

“It’s really important that there’s consistency, not just between schools, but also really important that there is consistency inside of schools so that one teacher isn’t approaching it one way and then the other teacher across the hall is doing something different,” Swinyard said in a June news conference. “In general, we really want the phones turned off and put away at elementary and middle school.”

High schools have a role to play, Swinyard said, in teaching their pupils when it is appropriate to use their devices.

The district surveyed its students, staff and families about the draft. Of the roughly 700 students who responded, 170 were in favor of the restriction, calling phones a distraction to their learning. The rest were less enthusiastic, said Scott Kerwein, director of student success.

The proposal restricts more than just cellphones, applying to gaming devices and smart watches, and any portable electronic device that can send messages, make calls, play games or videos.

The proposal also outlines procedures if a student is caught in violation of the policy. At their first offense, a student is to be reminded of the policy. Any future times they’re caught using their phone during class, staff would confiscate the device and return it at the end of the day. The school would notify parents and may hold a meeting if “excessive offenses continue.”

Families should expect communication from the district over how this policy change will look at their school and guidance toward adjusting, Swinyard said.

Cellphone restrictions have been growing in popularity across the nation, with conversations at school, district and state levels . Some Spokane-area schools are tightening their policies.

The 740-student Reardan-Edwall school district last year tightened its policy by only allowing use during lunch and a midmorning break in the high school.

Salk and Flett middle schools in Spokane have already implemented more restrictive policies than the district’s proposal. Salk principals decided to implement last September a full school prohibition of use, including during lunches and between class periods.

Staff found the year to be a “marked change” in their school absent of devices, with less discipline and more engagement in class. By the end of the school year, many students had adjusted to the policy and found they built deeper connections with their peers, especially at lunchtime.

Glover Middle School will adopt a similar restriction to Salk, principals decided.

Middle school lunches were the crux of the board’s conversation Wednesday. Most of the adult respondents to the survey suggested prohibiting cellphone use during lunch, contrary to the district’s draft. Board members advised they shouldn’t be permitted during lunch.

“It feels like if we’re ever going to get to a situation where a high school lunch can be conversations and not half the time on the phones, we have to start in middle school,” board member Mike Wiser said.

Swinyard predicts restricting phone use will be a “turbulent” transition with “ebbs and flows” as students, staff and families acclimate to the changes.

He acknowledged the policy presents some “give and take.” Many educators permit student phone use to supplement their academics, in class trivia games like Kahoot, to quickly look up information or check their grades or assignments, many of which are online.

The district supplies laptops to each student, but surveyed students said they’re unreliable and not as efficient as their phones, which present “educational technology opportunities,” Swinyard said.

“We’re going to give up some of that, because we’re in a battle of loss of engagement by having it in their hands,” Swinyard said.

“We’re making a calculated choice weighing the benefits and the downsides.”

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Governor issues Executive Order to create 'cell phone-free education' in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) issued a new executive order directing the Virginia Department of Education to create guidance for Virginia's public schools to limit or ban cell phones.

"This essential action will promote a healthier and more focused educational environment where every child is free to learn. Creating cell phone and social media-free educational environments in Virginia’s K-12 education system will benefit students, parents, and educators,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

The Governor's executive order directs the Department of Education to initiate, "a robust public engagement effort with parents, students, teachers, local school leaders and other stakeholders to develop collaboratively policies and procedures that establish the age-appropriate restriction or elimination of cell phone use during instructional time, as well as to establish protocols allowing parents to contact their children in emergency and other important situations," the Governor's office wrote in a release.

In addition to the guidance the Governor also ordered the Department of Education and the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services make $500,000 available from existing funds to support the implementation of the initiative.

“The data is clear, and it is time for Virginians to come together to address the damage of social media and screens to healthy childhoods. Government cannot be the sole solution to this crisis; school communities – especially parents and teachers – must work together to discuss and develop common sense approaches to limit screen time, prioritize open channels of communication, and re-establish norms that reinforce healthy and vibrant learning communities,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera.

The Youngkin administration shared CDC data from 2019-2021showing a rise in depression and suicide rates among teens to support their decision on the policy.

That CDC data showed that the rate of suicide has increased 167% since 2010 for girls and 91% for boys. The data also showed a spike of depression for boys and girls at 161% and 145% respectively.

Under the order, VDOE will have to publish their draft guidance by August 15. After considering feedback the final guidance is expected in September.

Local school divisions will then have to adopt cell phone-free education policies and procedures by January 1, 2025.

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Michele Exner of Parents Defending Education (right) discusses the future of Title IX with "The Daily Signal Podcast." (Rob Bluey/Daily Signal)

Parents Defending Education filed a lawsuit on April 29 against the Biden administration’s reinterpretation of Title IX allowing males in female sports and private spaces.

The parental rights organization joined the   Independent Women’s Forum, Speech First, and the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina in challenging President Joe Biden’s rule change to the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs across the nation. 

The Biden administration’s revisions seek to add “gender identity” to the list of sex-based protections. Although officials don’t include a formal definition of “gender identity” in the revised rule, legal experts say it would allow males to participate in girls and women’s sports, use female-only locker rooms and bathrooms, bunk with females in hotel rooms during overnight school trips, and more.

The reinterpretation would also limit how individuals accused of sexual harassment can defend themselves.

If not overturned, the rule change—finalized in April—will take effect in August.

Michele Exner, senior adviser to Parents Defending Education, discussed the future of Title IX with “The Daily Signal Podcast. ”

“It’s an anti-woman, anti-girl policy,” Exner told The Daily Signal.

Exner spoke to The Daily Signal at the recent Road to Majority conference of the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C., where she took part in a panel discussion about parental rights in education alongside American Parents Coalition Executive Director Alleigh Marré.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested at UF are kicked out of school for up to 4 years

  • Vivienne Serret, Fresh Take Florida

GAINESVILLE — In secretive hearings, the University of Florida set aside recommendations to lightly punish some of the college students arrested after pro-Palestinian protests on campus and kicked them all out of school for three to four years.

The decisions by the new dean of students, Chris Summerlin, overruled what were effectively sentencing recommendations by the juries, known as hearing bodies, who heard testimony and watched police video of the protests and arrests during the disciplinary cases.

The students were among nine people whom university police and Florida state troopers arrested April 29 during a demonstration on a plaza on the University of Florida campus. They were among the first college arrests in Florida, and all remain banned from university property.

In at least two cases, the hearing bodies recommended probation for Keely Nicole Gliwa, 23, of Gainesville — a master’s student who expected to graduate May 2 — and a deferred suspension for Parker Stanely Hovis, 26, of Naples. The university withheld Gliwa’s diploma and suspended both Gliwa and Hovis for three years.

In other cases, the hearing body recommended a one-year suspension for Tess Jaden Segal, 20, of Weston and Allan Hektor Frasheri, 21, of Largo, but UF suspended Segal for three years and Frasheri for four years.

The university suspended Roseanna Yashoda Bisram, 20, of Ocala for three years, the same duration as the hearing body recommended. Augustino Matthias Pulliam, 20, a freshman theater major from Jacksonville, also was suspended three years. Charly Keanu Pringle, 21, of Jacksonville said she had been suspended for three years in a separate disciplinary process at nearby Santa Fe College, but that was not true . Pringle hadn’t been a student there since spring last year, according to school records, and administrators said she had not been suspended.

The seven students said they have submitted appeals to overturn their punishments, which they said were pending.

The suspensions mean that each would need to reapply for admission to UF. The only worse punishment would have been to expel them, which would have prevented them ever from returning.

Meanwhile, all nine people arrested at UF said they have turned down deferred prosecution agreements offered to them by the Alachua County State Attorney’s Office under plea bargains. Under such deals, a defendant would plead no contest or guilty and the charges would effectively be dropped from their records if they committed no further crimes during a period of time, usually 12 months. None of the nine had any prior criminal convictions.

“We did not resist arrest, and we are prepared to fight our charges,” Hovis said in a statement. “We’re standing in solidarity with each other, and collectively demanding that the state drop the charges against us.”

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Their court cases were expected to unfold over the summer. The state attorney, Brian Kramer, is a Republican facing reelection in November.

Of the nine, Ember Boerboom, 24, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was a former UF student, Pringle was a former Santa Fe student and Jinx Rooney, 23 of Valrico had no apparent affiliation with the university.

All faced misdemeanor criminal charges of resisting arrest without violence except Frasheri, whom prosecutors charged with felony battery on a police officer. Hovis also faces another misdemeanor, a trespass count. Police said at the protest Hovis declined to say whether he would leave, so they arrested him.

Under university disciplinary rules, Summerlin was permitted to reject the recommendations of the hearing bodies, which are typically composed of faculty members. Summerlin, who started his job at UF in April, the same month as the arrests, declined Tuesday through a spokesperson to say why he handed out tougher-than-recommended sanctions in nearly every case.

The outcomes of the disciplinary hearings — which happened during May and June — were described in a news release Tuesday distributed by the students. The privacy of the school’s disciplinary process is protected under federal law, and only the students involved can lawfully disclose what happened behind closed doors. Two of the UF students, including Segal, are Jewish, they said.

“I stand in solidarity with Palestinians not in spite of my Judaism, but because of it,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, newly released law enforcement video appears to capture the moment that one of the protesters was accused of spitting on a police officer in the most serious case.

Prosecutors have accused Frasheri of spitting on the right arm of university police Officer Kristy Sasser as she was helping a state trooper walk away with another protester under arrest. Sasser, who also testified in at least one university disciplinary hearing, said in court papers that Frasheri “walked up to us and spit on me. His spittle landed on my right arm. I disengaged from the escort and arrested Frasheri for battery.”

In video of the arrests obtained from the Highway Patrol under Florida’s public records law, Frasheri is seen fidgeting with a water bottle with a medical-style mask down to his chin, joining the crowd in screaming “shame” at the officers arresting their peers.

As Sasser walked by, the top part of Frasheri’s body appeared to lunge sharply toward her as he held a water bottle. Sasser turned and appeared seconds later behind Frasheri to arrest him. Frasheri is expected at an upcoming court hearing July 24 for an update in his case.

UF President Ben Sasse, during a May news conference, praised police: “What you have done in the face of being spit on, being shouted at with profanities, has been amazing,” Sasse said.

The university has declined so far to release other police video showing the arrests, despite a reporter’s request for copies April 30 — 70 days ago — under state law. The school also hasn’t turned over requested copies of communications among its general counsel, Sasse and police departments.

One of the government’s expected witnesses in the upcoming criminal trials for the defendants is identified in court records as Aaron Michael Sarner, 24, of Hollywood, a UF law student listed as vice president of the group Students Supporting Israel. Sarner did not respond to phone calls or messages over several days asking about his role in the cases.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that Charly Keanu Pringle was formerly a student at Santa Fe College and was not suspended as she claimed.

This story was produced by Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. The reporter can be reached at [email protected] . You can donate to support our students here .

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Civil rights groups ask feds to investigate police response to campus protests

Image: Students At UT Austin Hold Protest Supporting Gaza austin police arrest student

Civil rights groups asked the Justice Department on Thursday to investigate law enforcement's response to protests at college campuses around the country over the war in Gaza.

A letter signed by more than a dozen organizations, including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Amnesty International and several Arab and Jewish peace groups, asks the Justice and Education departments to “take immediate action to address possible civil rights violations committed by university officials in connection with peaceful protests on campuses.”

While most of the protests were peaceful, thousands of people were arrested and detained by officers for university, state and local law enforcement agencies in the spring.

Some responding departments used “militarized force and tactics,” such as deploying rubber bullets and other nonlethal projectiles into crowds, the letter said.

“These actions require immediate investigation by DOJ and, as they pertain to educational institutions, by ED to ensure that the federal and constitutional rights of all protesters have been and remain protected,” the groups said in the letter, first obtained by NBC News.

It asks the Justice Department to investigate policing activities in New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.

It also asks the Education Department to investigate whether officials at Columbia University, Emory University, the University of Texas at Austin and UCLA violated the Civil Rights Act, which guarantees certain equal protections in public schools and institutions of higher learning.

The letter follows a turbulent spring for many colleges in the U.S., where protesters were arrested and sometimes faced violent counterprotests. Some students were threatened with suspension just days before graduation. 

University officials scrambled to address months of unrest and negative public attention as students set up encampments and faced off against counterprotesters and law enforcement officers. 

At UT Austin, a student told NBC News that she was grabbed by officers, thrown to the ground and dragged by her hair and an arm. The university’s president on April 24 called it a “challenging day for many.”

newspaper right to education

Alicia Victoria Lozano is a California-based reporter for NBC News focusing on climate change, wildfires and the changing politics of drug laws.

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