How the lack of school is affecting education. UNESCO response.

top view photo of girl watching video through imac
Photo by Julia M Cameron on

The data is clear and worrying, more than 1.5 billion students are affected by school and university closures due to the COVID-19. That it’s the 91.4% of the world’s student population affected, 1.57 billion learners out of school, 192 countries affected by school closures. As UNESCO indicates, the COVID – 19 outbreak is not only a global health crisis but also an educational crisis.

The adverse impacts of school closures are many and varied, including: Interrupted learning; nutrition; protection; parents unprepared for distance and homeschooling; unequal access to digital learning portals; gaps in childcare; high economic cost; increase pressure on schools and schools systems that remain open; rise in dropout rates and social isolation. That is why UNESCO has decided to motivate a wide variety of tools, initiatives and projects to combat COVID-19. Apart from a large number of articles and publications of interest on the subject, UNESCO has decided to organize its work into two sections: A global response and the regional response:

Concerning the Global Response, we can find seven different but complementary measures among them:

  1. Global Education Coalition: This coalition is the biggest response to this educational and health crisis, under the #LearningNeverStops and formed by multilateral partners, private sector, civil society / non-profit organizations, media partners and networks and associations. The main objective of this coalition is to help countries to improve their good distance learning practices and to lessen the consequences for students. This initiatives are crucial bearing in mind that the closure of schools exacerbates inequalities in education and more aggressively affects the most disadvantaged children and young people and vulnerable (most acutely for girls) who depend on schools for a wide variety of social services.

Specifically, the Coalition aims to:

  • Help countries in mobilizing resources and implementing innovative and context-appropriate solutions to provide education remotely, leveraging hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches
  • Seek equitable solutions and universal access
  • Ensure coordinated responses and avoid overlapping efforts
  • Facilitate the return of students to school when they reopen to avoid an upsurge in dropout rates”
  1. Technical assistance: “to quickly prepare and deploy including distant learning solutions, utilizing hi-tech, low-tech and no-tech approaches

III. Webinars: Essentially intended for officials from the ministries of education and other stakeholders in sharing joint efforts to mitigate the effects of COVID – 19.

  1. Distance learning solutions / Digital learning resources: Here a long list of platforms (mostly free) are made available to the public to help parents, teachers, schools and school administrations in the work of distance education. Among them are:
  • Resources to provide psychosocial support
  • Digital learning management systems
  • Systems built for use on basic mobile phones
  • Systems with strong offline functionality
  • Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Platforms
  • Self-directed learning content
  • Mobile Reading applications
  • Collaboration platforms that support live-video communication
  • Tools for teachers to create of digital learning content
  • External repositories of distance learning solutions
  1. National learning platforms and tools: Where it is allowed to observe at the national level what are the measures that each country is taking to give an educational response to COVID-19.
  2. Minister – level virtual meetings: On March 10, UNESCO convened an emergency meeting with ministers of education to share responses and strategies to maintain the continuity of learning and assure inclusion and equity.

VII. Global monitoring of country-wide and localized school closures and the number of learners affected: This section is of utmost importance since it allows to know worldwide the data concerning schools closed due to COVID-19, the total number of affected students and the countries that have taken these measures. It is updated every three days.

In relation to the Regional Responses, UNESCO divides it into “Arab States, Asia Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean” In this section I will highlight” specific “measures that are being taken in each region:

Arab States: “Alternative solutions to school closure to ensuring that learning Never Stops” and “Motivating and supporting children during remote learning: tips for teachers and parents”

Asia Pacific: “Mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 on food and nutrition of schoolchildren”

Latin America and The Caribbean: “Children without class due to the coronavirus: the internet helps but it is not the same.”

In each region, UNESCO is trying to analyze what are the most direct consequences, informing, and motivating leaders to find the most appropriate solutions.

Finally, we can conclude with a few words from Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity. “

What has been said in the 43th Human Rights Council before it suspension?

Because of Covid-19 last week, the Human Rights Council suspended the current session.

Due to this fact, OIDEL has decided to compile the reports of the special reports that were discussed during the weeks in which the Council continued its normal operation so that our readers can know the latest news that was released at the 43rd CDH.


It started with the high-level meeting, from this point we already made a blog post, then, as usual, gave way to item 2 “Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports from the Office of the High The Commissioner and the Secretary-General”; later item 3 of the program on “Promotion and protection of all human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.”; Item 4 “Situations of human rights that require the attention of the Council.“; ítem 5. Human rights bodies and mechanisms; finally item 6. “Universal periodic review” This was the last of the points that could be carried out because, due to the coronavirus, it had to be cancelled.

We include summaries of special reporters’ reports below.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belie

The Special Rapporteur began saying that there is a multitude of use and misuse of religion or belief to execute violence and discrimination based on gender. He also expressed his concern because of the rise in political and religious or belief-based campaigns aiming to regress human rights that are fundamental to gender equality. The Special Rapporteur concluded with the responsibility of States to create enabling environments for the non-discrimination and freedom of religion or belief rights of women, girls and LGBT+ persons. This report has been highly problematic and criticized by faith-based organizations.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment

The Special Rapporteur described good practices followed by States in conceding the right to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and in implementing the procedural elements, like the access to information, public participation and to justice and effective remedies. This fundamental human right is recognized by more than 80% of the State Members.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. 

The Special Rapporteur said that many of the preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) programs implemented lack a consistent rule of law or human rights grounding. Negative human rights practice may contribute to the conditions conducive to terrorism and violent extremism rather than prevent them. The lack of a clear definition of “violent extremism” has led a few countries to adopt definitions of extremism extended to practices and rights protected and international law. He also highlighted the concerning commodification of women and girls to advance policy. To achieve P/CVE’s goals, State and international programs must be empirically based and consistent with the rule of law and human rights.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. 

The Special Rapporteur reported that private debt and public debt are intertwined. He also said that private indebtedness is on the rise due to two factors:

  • The flourishing supply side of various financial debt products
  • The general consideration of human rights as commodities in laws, policies and programs paralleled by a colossal failure of the State to ensure economic, social and cultural rights for all.

For them, private debt can be both a cause and a consequence of human rights violations.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities

The Special Rapporteur talked on how negative perceptions about persons with disabilities and their value are reflected in legislation, policies, customs and practices. These negative perceptions are related to ableism, which is a value system that considers that certain standards of appearance, functioning and behavior are necessary to live a fulfilling life. These beliefs have led societies to favor disability prevention and cure of impairments over the access and inclusion of persons with disabilities. The Special Rapporteur highlighted the need to develop and implement legal and policy reforms that embrace disability as part of human diversity and promoting their participation in decision-making.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues

The Special Rapporteur set out the topic of the language dimension of education for minorities. He clarified the parameters of the application of human rights to the principles of equality without discrimination, as of primary importance for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education for all, including linguistic minorities such as users of sign languages. He recommended a series of practical guidelines to provide guidance on the content and implementation of the human rights of minorities on the field of languages. This special rapporteur presented a report on his visit to Spain highly controversial.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food

The Special Rapporteur concluded that the achievement of the right to food remains a distant reality for far too many. She highlighted the roles and responsibilities of the main actors in advancing the right to food. She invited the members to mention examples of positive practices about:

  1. To address food insecurity, poverty, inequality, and the inequitable distribution of food and productive resources, particularly of marginalized populations.
  2. To adopt nutrition policies aimed at dealing with all forms of -malnutrition – including stunting, wasting, micronutrient deficiency, and the universal threat of obesity.
  3. To transform current food systems to more resilient and sustainable practices, free from dangerous pesticides, which promote smallholder farmers, including women and young farmers, protect farmworkers from dangerous and unhealthy working environments, incentivize local food systems and sustainable agriculture strategies, most importantly agro-ecological and traditional production systems.
  4. To implement a human rights-based approach to food security policies that provide right holders with access to decision making processes and justice.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. 

The Special Rapporteur began pointing that there is a global housing crisis, which can be seen with the increase in homelessness or even by the fact that housing has become unaffordable for many. This is the result of the failure of States to effectively implement the right to housing and constitute violations of the right to housing. States have to ensure residents’ participation in all decisions affecting their housing situation and to ensure access to justice for violations of the right to adequate housing.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy 

The Special Rapporteur focused his report on protecting against gender-based privacy infringements. The report outlines detailed recommendations in relations to indigenous, disabilities, children, gender, culture, housing, education, health care, detention, asylum, online violence, digital technologies, security and surveillance and work and employment. The Special Rapporteur has advocated for the right to privacy on a wide range of HR issues, namely concerning the right of privacy of children and sexuality, intersex children and self-determination of gender, gender identity and autonomous decisions concerning their bodies, LGBTQI, same-sex relations, sex workers, removal of barriers of gender-specific regulation in public spaces.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar 

The Special Rapporteur continued to be denied access to Myanmar so she visited Thailand and Bangladesh. She reported that there was a great spirit of optimism, in particular with the transition to democracy but the magnitude and tragedy of what occurred in Myanmar cannot be overstated, like the extreme violence perpetrated against the Rohingya or the armed conflict in Kachin, Shan, Kayin, Rakhine and Chin States, the shrinking of democratic space, lack of rule of law, ongoing land confiscation and the deplorable situations of internally displaced people and refugees. The transition of Myanmar is in its very early stages. She proposed a national dialogue with ways to move towards an equal, tolerant and pluralistic society. She thinks that the end to impunity is essential to ensure human rights over the country and for the successful transition to democracy. She considers that the justice system must be reformed and there must be extensive law reform, including of the Constitution.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on “Psychological Torture”

The Special Rapporteur recognized “psychological” or “mental” torture as an analytical concept distinct from physical torture. This report examines the notion of psychological “torture” only as in practice “torture” and “other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” are closely intertwined. National practice tends to deny psychological torture as what could be described as “torture light” despite “real torture” is understood to require the infliction of physical pain or suffering.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, child pornography and other children sexual abuse material

The Special Rapporteur reflected the emerging trends related to the sale and sexual exploitation of children, their root causes and new manifestations. The Special Rapporteur observed that global developments like the expansion of information and communications technology facilitate conditions in which the sexual exploitation of children can prosper. These crimes appear to be more frequent against marginalized children struck by poverty, conflict, social exclusion and discrimination, children on move, children with disabilities; children living in residential care and children left behind by their parents. The magnitude of the problem is unknown because of the unavailability of centralized and disaggregated data on the different forms of these crimes and on the number of cases identified, investigated and prosecuted. She called on States to accelerate efforts towards achieving comprehensive and child right centered protection systems, support and promote a coordinated global response to eradicate the sale and sexual exploitation of children.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism

The Special Rapporteur talked about women and children impacted by albinism. They suffer multiple discriminations, aggravated by a few factors like gender and age. Mothers of children with albinism are stigmatized throughout life. States needs to take concrete measures in incorporating the situation of albinism into policies on education, health and disabilities to end racial discrimination.


Report of the Special Rapporteur on ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in Occupied Palestinian Territory. 

The Special Rapporteur notices that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law continued in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Demonstrations known as the Great March of Return at the Israel-Gaza fence continued to take place every Friday and, on some occasions, demonstrators damaged and breached the fence, threw Molotov cocktails or launched incendiary objects. Some Palestinians, including children, were killed by Israeli security forces. In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, some cases of excessive use of force by the Israeli security forces were observed. This violence has a big impact on children because of the number of dead and injured. Israel has to conduct effective investigations of these alleged violations, ensure those responsible are brought to justice and if convicted, receive sanctions proportionate to the violations, likewise Palestinian authorities. Victims of these violations and their families need and have the right to have access to effective remedies and full reparation, including the right to truth.

Alexandra Domínguez

Alexandra Dominguez

Our Oral statement on the interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues

On Wednesday March 12, in the afternoon session of the Human Rights Council, the interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.

fernand de varennes
Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on minority issues.

The Special Rapporteur began his intervention by presenting his report on the visit that he made to Spain from January 14 to 25, and subsequently presented his thematic report on “education, language and the human rights of minorities” in which he stressed the importance of the linguistic dimension for a correct integration of minorities as well as recommended that a series of practical guidelines be drafted to provide concrete guidance on the content and implementation of minority human rights and the use of their languages ​​in the field of education. He further recommended that the guidance document be made available in the six official languages of the United Nations.

Following the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, OIDEL wanted to highlight in its oral statement the importance of language in education as a mechanism for inclusion, and the importance that public authorities have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that all children enjoy a quality education on equal terms.


“Thank you Mr. President,

First of all, we would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his exhaustive work, as well as the numerous country visits, communications, conferences and awareness in order to raise awareness of the human rights of minorities and increase their visibility.

Secondly, we agree that language is a pillar of the identity of many minorities. Moreover, language issues are sometimes among the main reasons for grievances, exclusion and discrimination in education that can lead to tensions between minorities and central authorities. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the use of minority languages by these groups is essential to ensure inclusion and trust, particularly for vulnerable segments of society, such as indigenous peoples and women.

Finally, we would like to mention the reference of the report of public and private education, highlighting that, as the report points, minorities have the right to establish and operate private schools and educational institutions that use their language to teach. Human beings have a right to education, and States must comply with this right by ensuring a quality and public education and guaranteeing to the different communities the establishment of alternative schools to those managed by the State. The main obligations of the states regarding the right to education are not about the preservation of a unique educational model, but rather of assuring the 4 A’s: Ensure that education is Available, Accessible, Acceptable and Adaptable. Public Authorities should have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that the equal respect of the enjoyment of the right to education for all children, regardless of whether they are part of a majority or a minority, and irrespective of income levels

In conclusion as the Special Rapporteur points, it is essential ensuring a pluralistic,inclusive and quality education for all, as indicated by the Sustainable Development Goal 4.

Thank you.”

Los distintos Secretarios Generales de las Naciones Unidas

A raíz de la noticia que sacudió el panorama internacional el pasado 4 de marzo, desde OIDEL hemos querido rendir homenaje a los nueve Secretarios Generales que han sucedido a los largo de la historia de las Naciones Unidas, con especial dedicación a Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Secretario General que falleció la semana pasada.

Trygve Lie

1. El primer Secretario General fue Trygve Lie, de 1946 hasta 1952. Nació en Noruega en 1896. Estudió derecho en la Universidad de Oslo. Fue nombrado Secretario Ejecutivo Nacional del partido Laborista Noruego en 1926. Fue primer Ministro de Justicia de 1935 a 1939. En enero de 1946, fue presidente de la Delegación noruega en la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas en Londres y en febrero de 1946 le nombraron Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas. En 1950 se renovó su mandato por 3 años más, pero dimitió en 1952, falleciendo en 1968.

Dag Hjalmar

2. Dag Hjalmar, segundo Secretario General, de 1953 a 1961. Nació en Suecia en 1905. Hijo del Primer Ministro de Suecia durante la Primera Guerra Mundial. Fue licenciado en Derecho en 1930 y en 1950 recibió el titulo de Doctor en economía. En 1949 le nombraron Secretario General de la Oficina de Asuntos Exteriores. En 1950 se convirtió en Presidente de la Delegación de Suecia en la UNISCAN, que fue creada para promover la cooperación económica entre el Reino Unido y los países escandinavos. En 1953, fue nombrado Secretario General y le reeligieron para un segundo mandato. Falleció en 1961 en un accidente aéreo, durante una misión de paz en Congo, antes de finalizar su segundo mandato.

U Thant

3. U Thant, tercer Secretario General de Naciones Unidas entre 1961 y 1971. Nació en Myanmar en 1909. En 1931 fue director del colegio donde estudió, la National High School de Pantanaw. Fue miembro del Comité Educativo de Myanmar y periodista. En 1947, le nombraron Director de Prensa del Gobierno de Myanmar. Cuando fue nombrado para ser Secretario General, era representante permanente de Myanmar ante las Naciones Unidas. Su mandato fue renovado. En su honor, la Universidad de las Naciones Unidas en Tokio instauró conferencias bianuales llamadas “Serie de Conferencias Distinguidas U Thant”. Murió en 1974.

Kurt Waldhrim

4. Kurt Waldhrim, nació en 1918 en Viena, fue el cuarto Secretario General de 1972 a 1981. Se licenció en la Universidad de Viena como Doctor en Derecho de Jurisprudencia en 1944. De 1948 a 1951 trabajó de Primer Secretario de la Delegación en París y dirigió la Misión de Austria en 1955. Se convirtió en Director General de Asuntos Políticos. Fue en varias ocasiones Representante Permanente de Austria ante las Naciones Unidas. Durante sus mandatos, realizó varios viajes para el mantenimiento de la Paz y dirigió la primera fase del Proceso de Paz de Ginebra sobre Oriente Medio. En 1982, fue presidente de su país hasta 1986. Falleció en 2007.


5. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar nació en Perú en 1920. Fue el quinto Secretario General y el primer Secretario General latinoamericano de 1982 a 1991. Era abogado. Trabajó en el Ministerio Peruano de Asuntos Exteriores en 1940, así como en diferentes Embajadas del Perú en varios países de Europa y de América del Sur. En 1961 le nombraron Embajador. En 1966 fue nombrado Secretario General de Asuntos Exteriores. En 1971, fue Representante Permanente de Perú ante las Naciones Unidas. En 1973 y 1974, fue el representante de su país en el Consejo de Seguridad. Más tarde, en 1979, le designaron al puesto de Secretario General Adjunto de las Naciones Unidas para Asuntos Políticos concretos. Además, viajo a Pakistán y Afganistán para continuar las negociaciones iniciadas por el subsecretario General, puesto que le eligieron para ser el Representante Personal del Subsecretario en los asuntos que afectaban Afganistán. Durante sus dos mandatos como Secretario General, recibió entre otros, el Premio Príncipe de Asturias por promover la cooperación Iberoamericana. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar desempeñó un papel muy relevante en la independencia de Namibia, en el fin de la guerra Iraq-Irán, en los acuerdo de Paz en Camboya así como en el acuerdo de paz histórico en El Salvador. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar murió hace unos días, el 4 de marzo de 2020 en Perú a los 100 años.


6. El sexto Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas fue Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Ocupó el puesto de 1992 a 1996. Nació en Egipto en 1922 y fue graduado en derecho por la Universidad del Cairo, obtuvo un doctorado de derecho internacional de la Universidad de Paris. Fue miembro del Parlamento egipcio en 1987 y formó parte de la secretaría del Partido Nacional Democrático. También fue miembro de la Comisión de Derecho Internacional de 1979 a 1991 y de la delegación de Egipto en varias sesiones de la Asamblea General. Autor de más de 100 publicaciones y numerosos artículos sobre asuntos de derecho, diplomacia, ciencias políticas y regionales. Murió en 2016.

Kofi Annan

7. Kofi Annan, séptimo Secretario General de 1997 a 2006. Fue nombrado para dos mandatos. Nació en Ghana en 1938. Estudió economía y obtuvo un Master en Administración. En 1962 trabajó en la Organización Mundial de Salud como oficial administrativo y de presupuesto. Dirigió el primer equipo de las Naciones Unidas que negoció con Iraq la venta de petróleo para financiar la compra de ayuda humanitaria. También fue Subsecretario General de Operaciones de Mantenimiento de la Paz de 1992 a 1993. Kofi Annan se concentró en un plan de reforma de las Naciones Unidas, para reforzar el desarrollo y el mantenimiento de la paz así como el fomento y la promoción de los derechos humanos. En 2001, Kofi Annan y las Naciones Unidas ganaron el Premio Nobel de la Paz. Falleció en 2018.


8. El octavo Secretario General, de 2007 a 2016, es Ban Ki-Moon. Nació en 1944. Obtuvo el título de bachiller en Relaciones Internacionales en la Universidad de Seúl y una maestría en administración en la universidad de Harvard. Antes de ser elegido Secretario General, era Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores y Comercio de la República de Corea. Obtuvo los cargos de Primer Secretario de la Misión Permanente de la República de Corea en la Naciones Unidas en Nueva York y también fue Embajador en Viena. Se desempeñó como vicepresidente de la Comisión Conjunta Sur-Norte para el control de las armas nucleares.


9. António Guterres es el noveno y actual Secretario General desde 2017. Nació en Lisboa en 1949. Se licenció en Ingeniería en el Instituto Superior Técnico. De 1981 a 1983, fue miembro de la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa donde estuvo presidiendo la Comisión de Migraciones, Refugiados y Población. También fue miembro diputado del Parlamento de Portugal durante 17 años. De 1995 a 2002, fue Primer Ministro de Portugal. De 2005 a 2015, fue Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Refugiados.


Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights


On Wednesday, March 4, under the framework of the Human Rights Council, the Interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights, Mrs. Karima Bennoune.

The Interactive Dialogue began with the intervention of the Special rapporteur, who emphasized the need to implement measures to provide adequate financial support, visibility, protection and ability to work freely in the cultural sector. She pointed out that the cultural rights defender label cannot be used to undermine human rights protection. She mentioned some examples of positive practices, such as the measures taken to implement the protection of cultural rights defenders in national legislation and policies by including the participation of cultural rights defenders in making rights-related decisions cultural, for example. She also mentioned avenues that can be taken into consideration when the human rights of cultural rights defenders are violated.

Several countries intervened to thank the rapporteur for her great work and highlight the situation in their countries. In the case of Cameroon or Nepal, they highlighted the importance of education for the full realization of cultural rights.

From OIDEL, we did an Oral Statement recalling the importance of the cultural approach on the right to education and therefore, the need to acknowledge the important role of teachers.

First of all, we would like to thank the work carried out by the Special Rapporteur during her years of mandate and thank her for choosing an issue of such importance and relevance as cultural rights defenders.

 Secondly, considering that defenders can be of any gender or age, from any part of the world and from any profession, we would like to highlight the role of teachers. The right to education plays an important role in the realization of cultural rights. As General Comment No. 21 says “The right of every person to participate in cultural life is also intrinsically linked to the right to education” (par.2). In this sense, it is important to recognize the role of teachers who ensure cultural transmission to groups whose culture is excluded from mainstream education, as is the case of certain minorities or indigenous people. We believe that the role of these teachers should be taken into account as human rights defenders, since without their work the intergenerational transmission of certain values and cultural heritage would be impossible.

We encourage the rapporteur to take them into account.

 Thirdly, we would like to highlight what was said by the former Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, who pointed out that defenders working in the field of economic, social and cultural rights – including teachers – They often have more difficulty getting their work accepted as human rights work

 In conclusion, we would like to highlight three recommendations from the reporter’s report.

  1. Adopt cultural rights-based cultural policies that include the work of cultural rights defenders, and protections for them, including strategies and mechanisms for responding to violations, and amend existing cultural policies to ensure these issues are fully covered.
  1. Express support for cultural rights defenders and their work, and encourage non-State actors to do so.
  1. Raise awareness, through human rights education, of the inherent importance of cultural rights.

You can find our Oral Statement at the following link – minute 1:29:54


High-level segment del 43º session del Consejo de Derechos Humanos ¿Qué es y qué se ha dicho sobre educación?

El pasado 24 de febrero de 2020, se inauguró la 43º sesión del Consejo de Derechos Humanos (24 de febrero – 20 de marzo). Primera sesión del año 2020, está primera sesión se caracteriza por celebrarse en ella el “High-level segment” en el cual durante 3 días pasan por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos más de 100 representantes – incluyendo jefes de estado y ministros de exteriores- de diferentes países para presentar ante el Consejo la situación de derechos humanos en su país, sus esfuerzos nacionales, la importancia de la cooperación internacional para paliar los desafíos actuales, y las perspectivas y retos de futuro.


Este importante evento fue inaugurado por la Señora Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, Presidenta del Consejo de Derechos Humanos; el Señor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Presidente de la Asamblea General de las Naciones Unidas; el Señor Antonio Guterres, Secretario General; la Señora Bachelet, Alta Comisionada de Derechos Humanos; y el Señor Ignazio Cassis, Jefe del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores de Suiza; quienes dieron el discurso de bienvenida y resaltaron la importancia de diversos temas de interés internacional, entre ellos, la educación.


El Secretario General Antonio Guterres informó a los presentes que para que las personas puedan reclamar sus derechos y se cumpla el núcleo de la agenda 2030 de no dejar a nadie atrás, es esencial garantizar una educación para todos, especialmente para las niñas, así como sacar a las personas de la pobreza extrema, garantizar su atención medica universal y permitir que todos tenga acceso a las mismas oportunidades y opciones.


La Señora Bachelet, coincidió con lo dicho por el Secretario General, indicando que la mejor manera de paliar el panorama político turbulento que se está viviendo, es mediante la promoción del acceso a la educación, de la atención médica, de la protección social universal y de una vida digna.


Posteriormente el Presidente de la Asamblea General, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, quien le dedico una amplia parte de su discurso a los derechos del niño y al derecho a la educación, hizo mención al informe del Instituto de Estadística de la UNESCO, donde se resaltó que hay cerca de 258 millones de niños, adolescentes y jóvenes que no van a la escuela en todo el mundo. Para paliar esta situación, el Presidente de la Asamblea General, apuntó la necesidad de generar alianzas que ayuden a abordar la crisis de aprendizaje y lograr mayores niveles de acceso a la educación y no abandono de las escuelas. Resaltó a su vez la importancia de asistir al colegio, siendo este el que capacita a los niños a alcanzar su máximo potencial y es el motor que les saca de la pobreza y, en general, les prepara para una mejor vida adulta.


Como se ha podido observar, la educación se tiene como un factor esencial para permitir el acceso al resto de derechos humanos. Es como indicó Alfred Fernández, un instrumento de auto-donación de sentido, el lugar del “aprender a ser”, es un derecho transversal que se debe proteger y promocionar, y de esta manera, se logrará un beneficio a nivel social, económico e individual, como así indicó la Señora Bachelet.


Camila Garcia


(UPDATE) The threat against the existence of faith-based schools in Sweden continues: The UPR and the Parliament Report

As we said in a previous article in Sweden a debate on educational pluralism has taken place in the Parliament since the last elections with to ban faith-based schools. Although the debate still is ongoing certain constraints have already been approved.

This situation is shocking in a state that traditionally last years has shown an openness towards religious pluralism and educational pluralism. The international community has been surprised by this debate and therefore there have been already some reactions. Two weeks ago there was the UPR of Sweden. The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. OIDEL, together with other NGOs, submitted a document pointing to the threats of the potential new legislation against human rights. In this regard, some countries raised the question of the convenience of these legislative initiatives and some recommendations were made. The most critical recommendations against the situation of Sweden were made by the Solomon Islands which pointed:

Review the proposed legislative ban on faith-based private schools” and “Recognize that the State has no legitimate authority under international law to mandatorily prescribe conventional education for all children, that individuals have the right to seek alternative forms of education, and that the prohibition and criminalisation of home education is a violation of international human rights law”.[1]

Internally, in Sweden on the 8th of January, there was the presentation of the official report produced by a Commission appointed by that was Parliament on the consequences of the new legislation on confessional schools. We can withdraw some conclusions.

One first and brief conclusion is that the report acknowledges that in any of the compared countries (Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany) there is any legislation that does not allow faith schools.

The second important conclusion is that this initiative is frontally contrary to the Human Rights Obligations of Sweden. The report recalls that Sweden has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRCh) which includes the child’s right to comprehensive education as well as the right to religious and cultural identity.

The document also points that according to the European Convention of Human Rights the right to exercise their religion applies also to non-governmental schools. It remarks that “inter alia under the EU law, there is a right to establish and operate private schools. (…) it is not possible to prohibit certain natural or legal persons from being considered for approval as managers of independent preschools or schools (…). If (…) persons with a religious basis were denied consideration for approval as managers of (…) schools (…), this might run the risk of constituting discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights”. The document points how the new legislative proposals can be against obligations accepted by Sweden on the field of human rights concretely on freedom of religion and free right of establishment.

The Commission points that a way to ensure that faith-based schools are compatible with the Swedish society is by introducing a democratic condition to approve the existence of a school. The Commission says that an individual shall not be granted approval as a manager for an activity concerning education if there is a particular reason to believe that this person or persons are engaged in violence or improperly violate human rights, if they discriminate, if they engage in abusive treatment of children, if they undermine the principle of the best interest of the child or if they undermine the democratic system of government.  [2]

The main reaction after the presentation of the report is that the different legislative initiatives in this regard will not make it through the European Court. Nevertheless, the Minister of Education has said that still, this report gives a good foundation for a law to stop new religious schools.

Ignasi Grau

[1] Human Rights Council – Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirty-fifth session (20–31 January 2020) Draft report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Sweden, A/HRC/WG.6/35/L.9

[2] Statens Offentliga Utredningar (2019) Nya regler för skolor med konfessionell inriktning – Betänkande av Utredningen om konfessionella inslag i skolväsendet. Available at :

Pequeña reflexión sobre el “pin parental” o el “opt out from school”


Uno de los debates que existen desde que la educación se convierte en un derecho es lo que en la tradición anglosajona se ha denominado “opt out from school” y lo que en España ha recibido el nombre de “Pin Parental”. Se trata de un debate complejo, global y que hay que mirar caso por caso. No obstante, para dar pistas sobre cómo enfocar dicho debate, resulta oportuno dar varias nociones sobre los planteamientos del mismo desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos y desde una perspectiva teórica.

Tradicionalmente, este debate se presenta como una colisión entre una educación que permita “el pleno desarrollo de la personalidad humana y el fortalecimiento del respeto a los derechos humanos” (Art. 26 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos y art. 13.1 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales) y el “derecho preferente a escoger el tipo de educación que habrá de darse a sus hijos (por parte de los padres)” (Art. 26 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos y art. 13.3 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales). Este derecho preferente a escoger el tipo de educación por parte de los padres busca que “(los) hijos o pupilos reciban la educación religiosa o moral que esté de acuerdo con sus propias convicciones (de los padres)”. La conexión entre la libertad de enseñanza y la libertad religiosa es obvia, tal y como se desprende del artículo 18 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos relativo a la libertad religiosa en el cual “Los Estados Partes (…) (se) comprometen a respetar la libertad de los padres (…) para garantizar que los hijos reciban la educación religiosa y moral que esté de acuerdo con sus propias convicciones.” En este mismo sentido, se ha manifestado el Comité de Derechos Humanos en la Observación General No. 22 sobre la Libertad de pensamiento, de conciencia y de religión[1].

La Declaración de Derechos Humanos no pretendía ser un documento comprensivo y exhaustivo, sino un documento de puesta en común y plural, que pudiera ser aceptado por múltiples perspectivas tanto filosóficas como religiosas. La presencia pluralista entre sus redactores lo atestigua. Tal y como advirtió Maritain[2], “estamos de acuerdo sobre los derechos, pero sobre las condiciones nadie pregunta por qué”[3]. Es difícil entonces pensar que “el pleno desarrollo de la personalidad humana y el fortalecimiento del respeto a los derechos humanos” tengan un contenido tan exhaustivo y comprensivo como algunos pretenden. Sería imposible que un contenido tan exhaustivo fuera aceptable para personas razonables con distintas concepciones de la vida como humanistas, cristianos, musulmanes, ateos, liberales y comunistas puedan aceptar.

A menudo la forma en que se focaliza este “fortalecimiento del respeto a los derechos humanos” se entiende de distintas maneras, y creo, que este es uno de los núcleos de la presente discusión.

Por un lado, teóricos como Amy Gutmann[4] advierten que el principal objetivo de lo que denominan educación cívica debe ser la deliberación racional entre distintos estilos de vida[5]. Gutmann defiende que los niños deberían ser sometidos a los distintos modelos de vida buena con un doble objetivo, que, una vez llegados a la vida adulta, puedan escoger el que más les convenga, y que conozcan los modelos de vida buena (de los otros). Así las cosas, cabe señalar la autonomía como valor principal de este primer modelo.

Por otro lado, tenemos a un grupo de pensadores, entre los que figuran Arneson y Shapiro, que proponen un segundo modelo cuyo contenido es menos ambicioso y pretende informar a los ciudadanos sobre sus derechos y obligaciones, y asegurar que puedan ejercer la ciudadanía en un mundo plural[6].

El problema de la primera concepción es doble. Por un lado, en un mundo plural es fácticamente imposible que se dé una visión completa de todos los modelos de vida buena, por lo que algunos modelos serían dejados de lado y otros serían ninguneados o pobremente tratados. Asimismo, la concepción antropológica del ser humano tras esta concepción es controvertida puesto que entiende al ser humano como un ente aislado que debe enfrentarse en la entrada a la vida adulta con distintos modelos buenos, sin tener en cuenta el peso de las circunstancias. El ser humano es más complejo que esta realidad. Es un ser social, que se relaciona, “un adentro que necesita un afuera”[7]. No es de extrañar que una educación que pueda ser contraria a valores razonables de una familia o de una comunidad encuentre resistencia por parte de los padres e incluso de ciertos estudiantes que se ven obligados a escoger entre el modelo de vida buena de la familia y los modelos de vida buena propuestos por el estado. El segundo modelo de educación cívica tiene menos obsesión con la autonomía del niño y busca sobre todo la enseñanza de normas compartidas por todos los ciudadanos razonables, con el objetivo de asegurar una convivencia pacífica en un mundo plural.
El “opt out” es la consecuencia de enseñar a los niños una educación contraria a la que se da en el hogar. No obstante, es importante tener en cuenta que, dependiendo del modelo de educación cívica y de derechos humanos vigente, la objeción de los progenitores puede estar más o menos justificada. Decíamos al principio que el debate que aquí nos ocupa nace del conflicto entre el reconocimiento del derecho de los padres y una educación en derechos humanos, que permita el desarrollo de la personalidad. El papel de las autoridades competentes no es sencillo en estas circunstancias, pero desde una perspectiva de derechos humanos parece que éste debe procurar una educación cívica o en derechos humanos, que pueda ser aceptada por la gran mayoría de ciudadanos razonables y compatible con el respeto a la educación moral y religiosa de los progenitores, admitiendo ciertas cláusulas para que los hijos no tengan la obligación de seguir determinadas clases cuando esto no sea aceptable[8].

El diseño de políticas educativas no puede ser un conflicto constante entre las autoridades civiles y los progenitores, sino un diálogo que considere ambas partes con sus derechos, en pro de conseguir el interés superior del menor y una realización holística del derecho a la educación.

Ignasi Grau

[1] Observación General No. 22, Comentarios generales adoptados por el Comité de los Derechos Humanos, Artículo 18 – Libertad de pensamiento, de conciencia y de religión, 48º período de sesiones, U.N. Doc. HRI/GEN/1/Rev.7 at 179 (1993)

[2] Jacques Maritain, filosófo francés.

[3] GLENDON, Mary Ann (2001) A World made new. Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Random House (p.77)

[4] Amy Gutmann es la octava presidenta de la Universidad de Pensilvania. Graduada en teórica política, es además autora de 16 libros, y profesora universitaria. Pertenece a la corriente de Christopher H. Browne, distinguido profesor de Ciencias Políticas en la escuela de Artes y Ciencias de la Universidad de Pensilvania y  profesor de comunicación en la Escuela de Comunicación Annenberg, con citas de facultad secundaria en filosofía en la Escuela de Artes y Ciencias y la Escuela de Licenciado de Educación. Fuente de información: Wikipedia

[5] Gutmann, A. (1987, revised 1999) Democratic Education. Michigan Law Review, 86(6).

[6] Arneson, R. J. & Shapiro I., (1996) Democratic Autonomy and Religious Freedom: A critique of Wisconsin v. Yoder. Nomos, 38, Political Order

[7] Mounier, E. (1946) Traité du caractère. Divers – Essais.

[8] Nations Unis, Rapport de la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le Droit à l’Education, Katarina Tomasevksi  (2004) Rapport de la rapporteuse spécial : Le droit à l’éducation E/CN.4/2004/45, disponible sur :




6 lecciones que nos enseña el Informe PISA 2018

Hace unas semanas se publicaron los resultados del Programa Internacional para la Evaluación de Estudiantes 2018, más conocido como PISA 2018. En esta pequeña entrada nos ha parecido interesante compartir brevemente algunas de las observaciones que el estadista de la OCDE Andreas Schleicher ha publicado en un informe anexo que pueden servir para pensar mejores formas de implementar el derecho a la educación.

–          El 10% de los estudiantes con más nivel socioeconómico tienen mayor rendimiento educativo que el 10% de los estudiantes con menor nivel socioeconómico en todos los países OCDE.

–          Uno de los factores que están más positivamente asociados con unos buenos resultados PISA es la resiliencia académica, lo que va muy ligado al apoyo de los padres, un clima escolar positivo y el “growth mindset” (que podríamos traducir como la convicción parte del alumno que la inteligencia es algo que no viene dado, sino que puede modificarse).

–          En el paisaje educativo ha habido cambios notables que implican repensar la importancia y las estrategias para profundizar en la lectura. Hay como mínimo tres elementos a tener en cuenta. Primero, en los últimos años se ha pasado de un porcentaje de 15% de alumnos de los países OCDE sin acceso a internet en casa (2008), a un porcentaje de menos del 5% (2019). Este elemento está cambiando el paisaje educativo puesto que antes los alumnos podían encontrar respuestas concretas y seguras en los libros de textos elaborados con la supervisión de los gobiernos. Debido a esto, a día de hoy, los alumnos encuentran millares de respuestas a sus cuestiones sin la seguridad de que estas sean correctas o falsas. Aparte de la abundancia de información esto implica también mayores dificultades de concentración (de media un estudiante se pasa 3.5 horas concentrado en internet con actividades multi-tasking). Segundo, podemos afirmar que estamos en un momento en que por primera vez el desarrollo tecnológico está yendo más rápido que la educación. Tercero, los hábitos de lectura entre los jóvenes han disminuido y siguen disminuyendo enormemente.

La lectura como siempre debe capacitar al alumno para tener un entendimiento profundo de la realidad y permitiéndole tener un sentido más amplio de la misma. En el contexto actual de cambio galopante y fake news, la lectura no puede limitarse a extraer información, sino también a construir conocimiento, pensar contenidos críticamente, hacer buenos razonamientos y distinguir el hecho de la opinión. El informe PISA enfatiza la importancia que las escuelas intensifiquen sus esfuerzos en este campo para que los alumnos tengan una capacidad lectora que les permita hacer frente a los desafíos de un mundo cambiante y digitalizado.

–          Los alumnos con bajo rendimiento escolar en algunos países están repartidos de forma más o menos igual en todas las escuelas, y en algunos países están concentrados en algunas escuelas concretas, a menudo en zonas desfavorecidas. El informe señala como enemigo de estas realidades la selección del alumnado por parte de algunas escuelas y la estratificación que impide a las familias de barrios desfavorecidos acceder a otras escuelas. El informe recomienda que aparte de hacer frente a estas dos realidades hay que hacer más hincapié en la importancia del apoyo y los recursos adecuados en las escuelas con este tipo de desafíos.

–          Según el informe la segregación social en las escuelas en la mayoría de países afecta de forma parecida a las escuelas privadas como a las públicas.

–          No hay casi relación en los fondos invertidos en educación y el rendimiento escolar.  Lo más determinante es como se gastan estos fondos. Las tres principales variables para el aprendizaje son el tiempo, la calidad y el ambiente en el que se da esta educación. Por ejemplo, uno de los problemas que tienen las escuelas más desfavorecidas es la atracción de profesores más cualificados. El informe advierte que para conseguir esto hace falta enfoques más holísticos que comprendan holísticamente salarios, reconocimiento y apoyo institucional y apoyo en las distintas iniciativas.


Para leer el informe entero podéis ir al siguiente link:


Ignasi Grau

Oral statement for the 2019 Social Forum

Yesterday took place the first day of the 2019 Social Forum. This forum took place on the 30th Anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and at a time that youth has become a priority for the United Nations. OIDEL not just followed the Forum, but we are going to co-sponsor a side-event and also we have done an oral statement during the panel “Reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education”.

Below you can find our Oral Statement recalling the freedom and the cultural approach of the right to education and its importance to enhance the rights of those left behind:

The title of this panel is reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education. I want to thank all the panellists for their magnificent presentations and I, as representative of OIDEL, would like to make a few commentaries.

No-one can deny the importance of the provision approach of the right to education to reach those left behind. An increase in the budgets to have better facilities, to prepare better professionals, to have access to better materials, and to ensure that all children have access to education is crucial. Nevertheless, focusing only on the provision approach of this right would be too narrow. We are focusing here on the rights of the children, and children are not numbers. They are human beings rooted in a culture, living in a community, cohabiting with a family with a particular language and with their own convictions. It is not enough to provide a good public educational system for all. Education shall be directed to the “to the full development of the human personality (art. 13.1 ICESCR, art.26.2 UDHR)” and to ensure this human rights approach it is important that this education fully respect the cultural identity of these children as it is stated in the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

The world in which we live is becoming more plural and it is rapidly changing. It is becoming more and more difficult to a unique school model to acknowledge the pluralism of the world, and at the same time meet the rapidly changing needs and circumstances of this world. We have to start thinking seriously if the vertical model state school – citizen is what is in the best interest of the child, especially those in disadvantage situations. Even, the UNESCO document “Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?” evokes the need to think of a paradigm that overcomes the notion of education as a public good. On this regard and specially in a context of privatization, as the former two special rapporteurs have said to guarantee the right to education we have to start thinking the role of the state not as the only education provider, but as the guarantor and regulator(par. 54) (SINGH, 2014)(BOLLY, 2017, par.59). We consider that two pillars are important on this context. First, focus on the importance of human rights education in order to strengthen the unity among citizens in a plural world. Second, governments not only should they be ensuring a high quality public education, but also supporting and enabling the existence of compulsory education in non-governmental schools of whatever legitimate pedagogical option to satisfy the human right to education.

On this context, we have to acknowledge a new threat. The progressive loss of the human rights perspective in the educational landscape due to new commercialisation approaches. It is clear that the entrance of for-profit actors can suppose a threat at multiple levels, including the final goal of education. On this regard, the state has to play the role of guarantor we mentioned before. Nevertheless, on this context, it is important that we do not threat all the non-state actors similarly. It would not be fair to legally treat a faith-based school in an area of conflict, as an institution owned by an investment fund in a developing area. It would not be fair to treat an NGO or a civil society organisation focused on the provision of the right to education, as an institution whose main aim is to make profit. An unfair approach to this problem not only will leave actors that are part of the solution in demining situation, but also might affect the freedom and cultural approach of the right to education by limiting the freedom of parents and communities to choose the education that they want for their children.

You can see the whole panel in the following link.

Ignasi Grau

  • Nations Unis, Rapport de la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le Droit à l’Education, K. BOLLY (2017) Rapport de la rapporteuse spécial : Le droit à l’éducation, A/72/496, disponible sur :
  • UNESCO (2015) Repenser l’éducation? UNESCO, Paris
  • SINGH, K. (2014). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, “Privatization and the right to education”. Genève – New York: Assemblée générale – Nations Unis.