Although legal frameworks are in place to protect children’s rights, millions of children are still deprived of their fundamental rights. The right to life, to an identity, to health care, to free education, to be protected from abuse, exploitation and any form of discrimination are among those fundamental rights. All these rights are closely interconnected. For instance the right to education is denied when children, instead of being in school, are working often under unbearable conditions. Teachers and their organizations are well aware of this problem and are taking action to find solutions. Through their advocacy of the Education for All goals and their direct involvement in projects, teachers are significantly contributing to children’s rights worldwide.
On 20 November 2008, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will be 19 years old. It is the international human rights instrument that has been most widely-ratified in the shortest period of time. Similarly, the two ILO Conventions related to child labour, Convention No. 138 on the minimum age of employment and Convention No. 182 on the worst forms of child labour, are also being ratified at a speedy pace. At regional level, there are human rights mechanisms fostering and overseeing the implementation of children’s rights. Finally, national laws (including often constitutions), courts and other institutional bodies promote and protect the rights of children. But shamefully, too many children still see their fundamental rights violated every day. The global statistics are dramatic, and may even be underestimations. 72 million children are not in school, of whom 56% are girls 218 million
This article was published in Worlds of Education, Issue 28, December 2008.