Free and Compulsory Education for All

Every child has the right to education. A good education enables a child to learn
and to grow, developing their gifts and potential. Going to school helps a child to
learn how to learn and how to relate to other children. It provides children with
the tools for learning, such as reading, writing and manipulating numbers. School
introduces children to the richness of the wider world and gives them the chance,
later on, to obtain work and make a contribution to society.

However, this is not the case for millions of children. Over 100 million children do
not go to school at all. For many more, school does not provide benefits of high
quality or lead to work opportunities. For yet others, school does not give them
the kind of knowledge they can use in their local situation, and it may be in a
language they hardly know.


The international community has recognized primary education as a right because
it has such positive impact on people’s lives and on society. Primary education:

· gives people tools to understand the world and participate in society;

· means that girls marry later, take greater care of the health of their children
and make sure that they too get an education;

· helps in the fight against child labour and exploitation, and against HIV/AIDS;

· is vital for economic development, giving individuals the chance to earn more
and be more productive;

· lays the foundation for using new technologies;

· enables people to have a voice in politics and in society.

Primary schooling also gives access to further learning opportunities and, at its
best, brings out the particular gifts and strengths which children can build on
throughout life.

Schooling should be free of charge. This means that parents should not have to
pay for their children to go to school, but more than that – they should not have
to pay other charges which may keep poor children out of school. Such charges
may be for buying textbooks, paying into a school fund or participating in the
costs of sporting activities.

Some children live far away from any school, some are so poor they have to work
and cannot attend school, others belong to minority groups who are excluded by
culture or language from attending school. This goal emphasizes the need for
special efforts to reach these children and to provide schooling which is suitable
and meaningful in their circumstances.

Lastly, the goal is clear that children should not only attend primary school, but
should complete it. Only then will it be of real benefit to them. For parents to
keep their children in school until they complete primary education, teaching and
learning must be of a good quality.

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