Right to education

In order for a person to be aware of and to assert their human rights, education is often an imperative ingredient. Those who can read, write and do arithmetic are capable of grasping different types of information and forming their own opinions. According to the UN (UNDP), basic education for girls is paramount in effecting lasting improvements in a country’s living conditions.

Unending poverty without schools
The right to education is part of the economic, social and cultural rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is in Articles 28 and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is one of the main remedies in the UN’s action plan to cut poverty in half by 2015.

Education shall be free, at least at elementary and fundamental levels, where it shall also be compulsory. All people are to have access to vocational training and higher education at upper secondary school, university or other institutes of higher learning. 

School shall provide knowledge of and respect for human rights. It shall foster understanding, tolerance and friendship between and among nations, states and groups of people and lead to an understanding of UN activities and peace. 

The right to education in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes that primary education shall be compulsory and free for all (Article 28). According to Article 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the education of the child shall be directed to:
- develop the child’s fullest potential;
- develop respect for human rights;
- develop respect for the child’s parents and the child’s own cultural identity, and respect for cultures that are different from those of the child;
- prepare the child for responsible life in a free society in a spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin; and
- develop respect for the natural environment.

The right to education in Sweden
School attendance is compulsory for children living in Sweden under Chapter 7 § 2 of the Education Act (2010: 800). Compulsory schooling does not apply to children who permanently reside abroad or whose circumstances are such that it obviously can not be claimed that the child will attend school. All children residing in Sweden have the same right to education as children covered with the provisions on compulsory schooling. For these children school is not compulsory but they have the same right to free primary education as children resident in Sweden. The right to education also includes children residing in the country without permission, so-called undocumented children.

According to Chapter 2 § 18 of the Instrument of Government all children covered by the provisions on compulsory schooling have a right to free primary education in public school. Municipalities can apply for government grants for the costs of education for undocumented children.

UN Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, the international community agreed on eight millennium development goals to cut poverty in half by 2015. According to the second goal on universal education, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. Education enhances a person’s chance of getting a paid job and earning a living, which contributes to halving global poverty and hunger.
Read more about the Millennium Development Goals