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Education and the 4 As

©ActionAid
©ActionAid

For education to be a meaningful right it must be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. The concept of these 4 As was developed by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Katarina Tomasevski, and it is one of the best ways to assess and act upon the situation.

However, it should be noted from the outset that these 4 As are not definitive. Whilst they are an extremely useful way of explaining the right to education in terms of tangible factors, they are not necessarily the standard used in every international treaty and as such should not be treated as a generic, comprehensive guide to what the right to education means under every law. 

The 4 As are to be respected, protected and fulfilled by the government, as the prime duty-bearer, but there are also duties on other actors in the education process: the child as the privileged subject of the right to education and the bearer of the duty to comply with compulsory-education requirements; the child’s parents who are the ‘first educators’; and professional educators, namely teachers.

By using a participatory process this framework of the 4 As can become a tool to enable people to think through what the right to education means to them, and compare their current reality to this ideal context.

The 4 As can be summarised as follows - please click on each A to read more:

Availability that education is free and government-funded and that there is adequate infrastructure and trained teachers able to support education delivery.

Accessibility that the system is non- discriminatory and accessible to all, and that positive steps are taken to include the most marginalised.

Acceptability that the content of education is relevant, non-discriminatory and culturally appropriate, and of quality; that the school itself is safe and teachers are professional.

Adaptability  that education can evolve with the changing needs of society and contribute to challenging inequalities, such as gender discrimination, and that it can be adapted locally to suit specific contexts.

See also: Education Rights Circle Diagram– visualising the 4 As