TO WHAT EXTENT HAS GOAL 2 OF THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS PROTECTED AND ENHANCED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS?
Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible (U.N 2010). International human rights movement was strengthened when the United Nations General assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It was adopted has a ‘common standard of achievement for all people and nations’. The declaration for the first time spelt out the basic civil, political, economic and social rights that all human being shall enjoy (United Nations 2010). The United Nations was compelled to address the issue of human rights violations across the world during world war one and two and mostly because these lack of essential protection of human rights brought about this wars in the first place.
In September 2000 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, world leaders came together after a series of summits and conferences over the decade to adopt the United Nations Millennium declaration, they set out a series of time-bound targets with the deadline of 2015 and these goals have come to be known as the Millennium Development Goals, they are eight and these includes ending poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, Global partnership. In this essay we are going to look at the goal 2 of the MDGs and examine how it has enhanced and protected international human rights since its inception.
Universal education is the schooling mandated for all, it is offered to all children, and adult by the government, whether national, regional or local, provided by an institution of civil government and paid for in whole or in part by taxes, all in all it means it is available to everyone that desires an education. The term is generally applied to basic education, including kindergarten to twelfth grade or its equivalent around the world. It also referred to primary and secondary education, it could also include advanced education, universities, colleges or technical school funded and overseen by the government rather than private entities.
Across the world many children and adult lack basic education, article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provides that everyone has the right to an education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. It also states that elementary education shall be compulsory which brings us to target 1 of goal 2 of the MDGs which is to ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Girls are more likely not to lack basic education than boys. Education breaks generational cycle of poverty by enabling children to gain skills and knowledge, education has been linked to improvement in health, nutrition and improving their chances of survival in the world, it also helps in making them an active participant in the society, being able to exercise their civil and political rights.
Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) protects the basic rights of children to Education. Children around the world are being denied their basic rights to an education especially children from Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa. What keeps these children out of school mostly is poverty, most parent and guardians cannot afford to feed, clothe or even provide adequate shelter for these children let alone send them to school for basic education. Most kids have to help out their parent in providing for the family, they do this by helping out on the family farms or spend most of their time hawking, some unfortunate ones especially girls will be forced into an early marriage or prostitution.
Reaching poorer children who don’t have access to education has proved to be a major challenge, according to the MDGS reports of 2008, survey data from 40 countries shows that in 32 of them, attendance is higher in urban area than the rural area and in sub-Sahara Africa the number of children likely to attend school does not depend on where they live, be it rural or urban areas, children from poorer household are least likely to attend school. Article 32 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ICR) protects children from economic exploitation and anything that will be hazardous to their education.
Progress is being made to make sure that each state provide free and compulsory education for its citizens, access to free and compulsory primary schooling is already guaranteed by the nearly ratified Convention on the rights of child (CRC), article 28 (a) which states that make primary education compulsory and available free to all. Reports shows that in countries like Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya have all abolished school fees and there has been an increase in the ratio of enrolment in schools, in Ghana enrolment increased by 4.2million to 5.4 million between 2004 and 2005. Also in Kenya enrolment soared with 1.2million additional pupils in 2003 alone and by 2004 the number climbed to 7.2 million. This is a great improvement for the rights of children to primary education.
Gender equality is another major obstacle to adequate protection of human rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ICESCR) article 3 recognised the Equal rights of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights. It is obvious there is gender disparity between a boy and a girl child. An example is the case of sexual violence against girls at schools across South Africa, the report according to the Human Rights watch said that girls of every race and economic group are encountering sexual violence and harassment that impedes their access to education. School authority rarely challenges the perpetrator of such acts, these feeling of insecurity has prompted many girls to drop out of school and has affected them psychologically.
Article 3 of the UN covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR) protects the rights of both men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights. School door has swung open for girls in nearly all regions, according to the 2008 report. Between 2005 and 2006 many countries have successfully promoted girls education as part of their effort to increase enrolment in schools. As a result of this, two of three countries have achieved gender parity at the primary level. Even with these achievements progress is slow in coming because in some regions like the Sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania and western Asia have the largest gender gaps in primary enrolment, with the rate gender equality is being tackled, gender parity is far from being achieved.
Political instability, war, violence and discrimination based on ethnicity are some key issues keeping children out of school. Article 4 of the ICCPR provides protection for human rights. A Human rights watch investigation in July and August 2004 reveals that internally displaced children (children who are forced to leave their home and education behind, either because of violence or any other factor) and migrant children in Colombia face significant problems in continuing their education. Even though there is legal provisions available for displaced children to be registered in the community they arrive in, but there is simply no place for them when they arrive at the community. In India, the ‘Dalit’ or the so called ‘untouchable’ children face discrimination in education. Most government schools established in the areas where these children live are deficient in basic infrastructure, classrooms, teachers and teaching aid. Dalit children often sit at the back of the class and are often unfairly treated by upper caste teachers and staffs.
In Israel, one quarter of all school children attend a separate and parallel school system. The unfortunate children in this school system are Israeli citizen of Palestinian Arab origin. The Israeli ministry of education spends less per student in Arab school than they do in normal Jewish school. Palestinian Arab student drop out of school three times more than Jewish students and they are less likely to pass the national matriculation examination, only a few of them make to university. Article 27 of ICCPR and Article 30 of CRC recognised the rights of human of different ethnicity and religion. There is still a lot of work to be done in these mentioned areas because these children’s rights are being infringed upon and they are lagging behind in attaining the best education possible and this is going to have a terrible impact on their future.
Disability and diseases like HIV/AIDS and other related problems keeps children out school. Children with disability and those living with HIV/AIDS are more likely to be discriminated against in school and this infringes upon their rights to an education, Article 13(2 C, D) of ICESCR recognised the rights of to adequate medical care. Government have failed in Sub-Saharan Africa to address the barriers to education faced by children who are orphaned or otherwise affected by HIV/AIDs. An estimated 43 million school age children do not attend school in countries like Kenya, South Africa and Uganda (HRW 2005). Many of this kids have lost both parent who can ensure they get the education needed are left to strive for themselves or left with guardians who cannot afford to send them to school, coupled with them stigma associated with the disease, most of them drop out without being able to re enrol again.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), is an organization working hand in hand with the UN in prevention of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, it helped in recognising the human rights these individuals. The 2008 reports of UNAIDS on the global AIDS epidemic showed significant achievement in preventing new infections of HIV/AIDS. Response to the plight of children has been growing and by the end of 2007, national plans of actions specifically for children who have been orphaned by AIDS and other vulnerable children has been developed in 32 countries, 29 of which are in Sub-Sahara Africa. Many countries are formulating policies for children affected by AIDS in national development plan and policies, especially in the ministry of education and health (MDGS Reports 2009). Article 23 of CRC protects the rights of disabled children.
Children in detention across the world, including street children have little or no access to education. Children are being subjected to corporal punishment in schools, this scare away some children. Article 37 and Article 28(2) of CRC protects them from this violation of their rights. Some street children have been arrested and detained on the charges of walking aimlessly around and are often denied access to education while in custody and the few who have access rarely get the kind of education they deserve. Children in custody in the U.S have access to no education at all. The United States is one of the two countries who are yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child, this is so wrong for the so called democratic country and a world super power, who cannot even protect the rights of its citizens. There have been reported cases of intolerance, hatred, ostracization and violence of students based on their sexual orientation. Gay, lesbian and transgendered student are the most affected.
Furthermore, it has been stressed that it is not only enrolment the Goals 2 of the MDGS is particular about, it also has to do with the quality of education offered to children. Many children go to school without adequate supply of learning materials like, textbooks, notebooks, writing material, computers, Laboratories. Some cannot afford school uniforms or appropriate clothing to school. Most of them sit on floors because of lack of sitting arrangements, some are forced to study under trees or in open areas because there is no building. Lack of appropriate sanitation system is one of the reasons girls drop out of school, Article 10(f) of CEDAW recognise the rights of girls. The quality of education also means that children who attend school regularly must learn basic literacy and numeracy skills (MDGs Fact Sheet) and also to make sure they finish primary school at the right age. Report shows that in Sub-Sahara Africa a substantial amount of secondary school age children attend primary school.
Progress is being made so far because the rate of children in developing countries who have a completed a full course of primary education rose from 79 per cent in 1999 to 85 per cent in 2006. And this has helped in reducing the number of over age children in primary school, making room for a new batch of enrolees to come in. For children to reach their full potential and to protect their rights under Articles 13(2 B, C) of ICESCR, the success of the MDGs must be replicated at the secondary school level too.
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ON GOALS 2 OF THE MDGS
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http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/GlobalReport/2008/,accessed on 4th January 2010.
http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2008highlevel/pdf/newsroom/Goal%203%20FINAL.pdf,accessed on 28th Dec 2009.
INTERNATIONAL BILL OF RIGHTS.
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS (UDHR)
INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
UN INTERNATIONAL COVENTION ON CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS
COVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN.
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