Working locally at community level
The right to education is often perceived as an abstract concept and although the right itself may be enshrined in a series of national laws and international conventions, this may be perceived to be meaningless for those people who have never experienced the right, and may not know that the right even exists for them. They are likely to be unaware of their constitution or how it can be legally enforced. Grounding the right to education locally means transforming the abstract concept into a concrete reality; it means looking at current provisions for the right to education, and exploring what local people need in order to make their right to education a reality.
It is important to do some initial research before introducing the right to education at the local level. Although the right to education is universal, the way national constitutions and legislation interpret this right will vary and may be limited.
This could limit the ability to enforce the right nationally. For example, the state may or may not have ratified certain treaties, or have enshrined the right to education in national legislation. The status of the right, and the level of detail given about the right within the constitution or national legislation, will influence how one plans and implements any work in this direction.
1 Rights-holder and duty bearer. The first stage of such work is to raise awareness of the right: simply letting people know that they have the right and are currently being denied it can be enough to raise people’s interest in being part of a process. And knowing that you have a right is empowering in itself.
2 Making it meaningful: the 4As. The second stage is to make this right meaningful at the local level. This means exploring current provisions on the right to education, understanding what is offered in the constitution and what would need to be provided in order for the right to be effectively realised.
3 From analysis to action. The third stage is to build people’s skills, knowledge and confidence so that they themselves can hold their government accountable to deliver on its obligations, and to fulfil the right to education.