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The universal right to education: silences, risks and possibilities

Author(s): Tristan McCowan

Journal: Práxis Educativa
ISSN 1809-4031

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 9;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Education for all | Human rights | Right to education

Despite the considerable literature on subject of education in international rights law, there has been little discussion of the fundamental meanings of education in question, its nature and its scope. This article presents a theoretical exploration of the question, leading to a normative reassessment. The article first assesses the expression of the right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, identifying limitations in its focus on primary schooling. Other candidates for a basis for the right - namely learning outcomes and engagement in educational processes - are then assessed, and the latter is found to provide the most coherent foundation. Nevertheless, the implications of formal schooling for social inequalities cannot be ignored. Consequently, a two-pronged expression of the right is proposed, involving access both to meaningful learning and to institutions that confer positional advantage.
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