The Right to Primary Education in Africa – A Human Right or an Unfulfilled Promise During Situations of Emergency? : An analysis of state obligations during situations of poverty, natural disaster and conflict
The right to education is enshrined in numerous binding international agreements (most notably the ICESCR art. 13), and the international community has time and again expressed its commitment to fulfill universal primary education (through e.g. the MDGs). Yet, in 2008, 67 million children of primary school age were out of school, with a large share resident in Africa, and in countries which have recently experienced situations of emergency.
This thesis explores the right to primary education in Africa, which has its legal basis in two universal and two regional treaties. It further explores possible restrictions to the right, as possible reasons for the status of non-fulfillment. After establishing that there is a coherent right to education in Africa, an analytical framework of 4A’s is employed to analyze state obligations in three type situations of emergency; poverty, natural disasters and conflict.
The right to education contains obligations of both conduct and result, and the progressive realization of economic, social and cultural rights result in many children not being able to claim an immediate, free and compulsory place in primary school today. However, this is not the full picture and reason for non-fulfillment. As the thesis shows, there are clear obligations incumbent upon the state, also where resources are extremely scarce; and there is a mandatory duty to adopt a plan for the realization of primary education and to monitor its progressive implementation. The situations of natural disasters and conflict are subject to derogation measures under states of emergency, and the latter also rules of international humanitarian law.
In conclusion, the thesis specifies which obligations are incumbent on states, where full realization of the right to primary education is not achieved.