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Governments’ budgets and the right to education

Reading the books: Governments’ budgets and the right to education

Stories from country after country paint the same painful picture, of children and young people struggling to get an education. If they are lucky enough to be in school, they sit elbow to elbow in overcrowded classrooms, being taught by teachers who, even when their hearts are with their students, often lack the necessary knowledge of the subjects they are called upon to teach.

 The national constitutions and laws in many countries would tell these same young people that, despite what they may think, they are guaranteed a right to education. Even in countries where national laws contain no such explicit guarantees, their governments have agreed to be bound by international treaties that ensure the right. In other words, the rights guarantees are there, but the reality falls far short. Existing legal standards on the right to education are good (if not perfect), but implementation trails far behind. Bridging this gap is a critical challenge facing all of us. 

How does a government implement standards it has agreed to live up to governments’ budgets? It needs to employ a multi-pronged strategy, one which includes adopting well-conceived policies, developing and pursuing sound plans, implementing relevant and effective programs, as well as developing a carefully designed budget and ensuring effective revenue‐raising as well as expenditure of the budget.

This booklet has the following four parts:

Section 1 looks at elements of the right to education and where these might be found in about a government’s budget

Section 2 discusses governments’ rights obligations and suggests questions these raise education budget

Section 3 sets out a process for using a rights framework to analyze a government’s

Section 4 contains a short discussion of costing related to the right to education

 Read the booklet: Reading the books: Governments’ budgets and the right to education