Press Release

IACHR Publishes Practical Guide on Access to the Right to Education for Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic

16 de diciembre de 2020

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Washington, D.C. - As part of the work of the Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit for the COVID-19 pandemic crisis (SACROI COVID-19) and in collaboration with the offices of its Special Rapporteurs, on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) and for Freedom Expression (RELE), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is launching the second in its series of practical guides on human rights issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new publication is entitled How to ensure access to the Right to Education for Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic?

As part of the work of SACROI COVID-19, the IACHR decided to create practical guides that would function as innovative tools to help build respect and guarantees for human rights. These guides make specific public policy recommendations to support and guide the practices and decisions States implement to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unprecedented global health emergency that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed is seriously compromising the full enjoyment of human rights, both collectively and individually. In the Americas, the vast majority of countries shut down their educational establishments entirely by the end of the 2019–2020 academic year, although in many cases education has continued to be provided through alternative, distance-based approaches. In this context, several countries in the region have adapted their national programs to provide children and adolescents with effective access to education. To achieve this, many countries have created online resources, methodological guides, and agreements with the mass media to guarantee access to education with the greatest possible coverage and resources available.

IACHR Guide No. 2 on access to education for children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic contains an overview of the current context, the practices and measures that have been implemented in the region, a series of recommendations and considerations to guide the process of designing and adapting public policies, and others on the practices and decisions that States have adopted during the pandemic.

Resolution 1/20, “Pandemics and Human Rights,” establishes that “States should make available mechanisms that will allow children and adolescents to continue to have access to education and age-specific stimuli.” Resolution 4/20, “Human Rights of Persons with COVID-19,” argues that “full enjoyment of the right to education of persons with COVID-19, when they or members of their family have the disease, States must make arrangements at the various levels of their educational system for measures to be taken that mitigate a possible interruption of studies and focus on reducing drop-outs, and lessen other direct impacts of the pandemic, bearing in mind, in particular, the part played by schools in vulnerable settings as providers of hygiene, health care, or food.”

This guide is a technical cooperation tool through which the IACHR is seeking to provide technical assistance to help States, regional organizations, social organizations, and other agencies strengthen their institutions and design, implement, and evaluate public policies that guarantee access to education for children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The publication includes practical guidelines that aim to focus State efforts on making education systems structurally inclusive and resilient. The challenge that countries are currently facing is how to find a balance between guaranteeing public health and the right to education. Until this is possible, each State must take appropriate measures to guarantee access to the right to education from a comprehensive perspective.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 301/20