General Comment No. 7

Indicator Set 14: Educational Provision for Vulnerable Young Children

This indicator necessarily overlaps with the previous indicator on general service provision so users of this framework may be able to use the same data. All children, without exception, have the right to quality early education. Essential to the realisation of this right is ensuring access and quality for the most vulnerable sections of the population: the poor; those living in marginal urban areas, border areas and rural areas; immigrants; displaced groups, and so on. Ensuring these rights would also be in accordance with the principle of non-discrimination as guaranteed under article 2 and “equal opportunity” under article 28 of the CRC. These education services should be subject to quality assessment, and the aims of education as obligated under article 29 should always be kept in mind.

At present, good-quality education programmes serving these vulnerable/excluded populations are scarce. Where they exist, they are not well monitored or assessed. Unfortunately, lack of education compounds social problems such as illiteracy and poverty. The costs to government of addressing long-term social problems will be much greater than those required to ensure that vulnerable sectors of the population have the right to education.

Social and cultural relevance should be an essential factor of the quality of educational programmes. This social and cultural relevance, combined with child participation, must become the inherent components of such programmes. Therefore, this indicator requests reporting on both policy and practical measures taken to provide access to mainstream educational services (for example, for children of working mothers, for young girls, and so on) or to provide specifically targeted services to marginalised populations. Note: this indicator uses the term “marginalised” in a very broad sense. It refers to children who are at risk of suboptimal development for any given reason (and not just due to their physical limitation or social affiliation). These include children with parents in institutions and children of parents with mental or substance abuse problems.

Key Question: With respect to articles 2, 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, what measures or initiatives, specifically targeted at marginalised or excluded populations, are in place to ensure equality of access to quality educational services in early childhood, and what impact have they had?