Global push to recognise child’s right to free pre-primary education
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Global push to recognise every child’s right to free pre-primary education

by Jason Roberts

March 27, 2024
recognise every child’s right to free pre-primary education

In recent years, there has been growing momentum globally to recognise early childhood education and care (ECEC) as a fundamental human right. Advocates are hopeful the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council will legally recognise this right.


Representatives from the Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, Sierra Leone, Colombia, Panama, Naura, Bulgaria and Romania are convening in Geneva this month to discuss the impact early childhood education has on communities as well as the lack thereof.


Close to half of the global population of children are not currently enrolled in ECEC, with these numbers increased in low income countries.


It is understood that affordability is a significant barrier for families in these countries in accessing pre primary education.


The push for recognising early childhood education as a legal human right has arisen from the understanding that it is linked in breaking the cycle of poverty and inequality.


Many countries have introduced legislation to guarantee a minimum of one year of early childhood education but internationally, human rights laws have not caught up in this space.


The UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, does not explicitly reference early childhood education, as it does for primary and secondary education. Delegates attending the Council hope implementing international law could propel set countries in motion where fees are still a deterring factor.


The Human Rights Watch is encouraging all countries to platform this initiative, stating “Together, they can guarantee that every child can learn and fulfill their potential, laying the groundwork for a more just and equitable future.”


If nations across the globe are able to embrace the momentum, legislating free early childhood education for all children, this would see profound growth for low-economic communities.

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