Realising your right to education
Your right to education is not a privilege or a gift. It is a basic right that you are entitled to. The Constitution of Kenya at article 53 provides that every child has the right to free and compulsory basic education. It also states that every person (regardless of their age, tribe, gender or social status) has the right to education.
Certain measures must however be undertaken to realise this right. In particular, education should be available for all. This means that it should be free (where possible) and there must be enough infrastructure and teachers to facilitate this right. Education must also be accessible and no child should be discriminated upon in their pursuit of education. It must also be acceptable such that the content that you learn is age-appropriate, teachers are professional, and the learning environment is safe and takes into account your cultural needs. Also important, is that the right to education must be adaptable. It should change with the emerging needs of society and even challenge certain practises that discriminate and violate children’s rights.
Despite the above, many children are still unable to access quality education. Young girls from some families are denied the opportunity to go to school due to discriminative cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriages. The free education system has also affected the quality of education in certain schools as they are overcrowded with few teachers to attend to all students. Other schools have poor facilities or subject students to degrading treatment (such as inhumane forms of punishment) thereby making it hard for children to access or enjoy their education. Some children do not also get the support they need from parents or guardians to make the best of their education.
Just like the government and your parents and teachers you have role to play in the realisation of the right to education. You must be aware of your rights and how they affect your access and enjoyment of the right to education. Using this knowledge you and your friends can monitor how the right to education is being implemented in your school and participate in making your experiences better. You can also assist each other in instances where the right to education has been or is likely to be violated by reporting these violations to the authorities. Most important, you must work hard when the opportunity for quality education arises because ignorance can be very costly in the long run.
‘One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world’
Malala Yousafzai, Youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner