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The Human Right to Education for Workers
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education
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Work & Workers

Education for Workers | Governments' Obligations | Governments' Commitments

Human Rights, Education and Workers

What is the Human Right to Education for Workers?

The Human Rights at Issue

The human right of workers to education and training entitles all to:

  • The human right to free and compulsory elementary education and to readily available forms of secondary and higher education.

  • The human right to freedom from discrimination in all areas and levels of education, and to equal access to continuing education and vocational training.

  • The human right to information about health, reproduction and family planning.

The human right of workers to education is inextricably linked to other fundamental human rights -- rights that are universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent including:

  • The human right to equality between men and women and to equal partnership in the family and society.

  • The human right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

  • The human right to an adequate standard of living.

  • The human right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living.

  • The human right to participate in shaping decisions and policies affecting one's community, on the local, national and international level.

Education for Workers | Governments' Obligations | Governments' Commitments

Governments' Obligations to Ensuring the Human Right to Education for Workers

What provisions of human rights law guarantee workers the Human Right to Education?

Includes excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111), and the ILO Employment Promotion and Protection Against Unemployment Convention (No. 168).

"Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.... Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among ... racial or religious groups...."
-- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26

"The States Parties ... recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts.... The steps to be taken ... to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes.... The States Parties ... recognize the right of everyone to education.... "
--International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Articles 6 and 13

"States Parties shall ... eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure to them equal rights with men in the field of education ... to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women ... the same conditions for career and vocational guidance, for access to studies ... in educational establishments of all categories...; this equality shall be ensured in preschool, general, technical, professional and higher technical education, as well as in all types of vocational training.... States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of employment in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, the same rights, in particular: the right to work as an inalienable right of all human beings;... the right ... to receive vocational training and retraining, including apprenticeships, advanced vocational training and recurrent training.... States Parties shall ... eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas ... and ... ensure to such women the right ... to obtain all types of training and education, formal and non-formal, ... in order to increase their technical proficiency...."
-- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Articles 10, 11 and 14

"States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination ... and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law,... in the enjoyment of ... the right to work ... to education and training...."
-- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 5

"Each Member ... undertakes to declare and pursue a ... policy ... to promote ... equality of opportunity ... in respect of employment and occupation, with a view to eliminating any discrimination.... Each Member ... undertakes ... to promote such educational programmes as may ... secure the acceptance and observance of the policy...."
-- ILO Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No. 111), Articles 2 and 3

"Each Member shall declare as a priority objective a policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment by all appropriate means.... Such means should include ... employment services, vocational training and vocational guidance."
-- ILO Employment Promotion and Protection Against Unemployment Convention (No. 168), Article 7


Education for Workers | Governments' Obligations | Governments' Commitments

Governments' Commitments to Ensuring the Human Right to Education for Workers

What commitments have governments made to ensuring the realization of the Human Right to Education for Workers?

Includes excerpts from the.World Declaration on Education for All, and commitments made at the Earth Summit in Rio, and the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen.

"Every person ... shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. These needs comprise both essential learning tools (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem solving) and the basic learning content (such as knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes) required by human beings to be able to survive, to develop their full capacities, to live and work in dignity...."
-- World Declaration on Education For All, Article 1

"Training is one of the most important tools to develop human resources and facilitate the transition to a more sustainable world. It should have a job-specific focus, aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and skill that would help individuals find employment...."
-- Agenda 21, Chapter 36, para. 12

"We commit ourselves to promoting the goal of full employment..., and to enabling all men and women to attain secure and sustainable livelihoods.... We will ... Develop policies to ensure that workers ... have the education, information and training needed to adapt to changing economic conditions, technologies and labour markets....; Strengthen the links between labour market and education policies, realizing that education and vocational training are vital elements in job creation and in combating unemployment...."
-- Copenhagen Declaration, Commitments 3 and 6

"Facilitating people's access to productive employment ... requires:... Promoting lifelong learning to ensure that education and training ... respond to changes in the economy, provide full and equal access to training opportunities,... offer incentives for public and private sectors to provide and for workers to acquire training on a continuous basis...."
-- Copenhagen Programme of Action, para. 52


For more information, please contact PDHRE

The People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) / NY Office
Shulamith Koenig / Executive Director
526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325;
e-mail: pdhre@igc.org