Human Rights Law and Children's Right to Education

Can Human Rights Law Provide Guidance on Realising a Child's Right to Education in the Face of a Pandemic?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, children’s access to education in the African context was already unequal. COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation with lockdowns, widespread school closures, the use of online learning in resource-poor contexts and limited tuition at schools when, and if, they resumed in-person teaching. Apart from these educational impacts, COVID-19 has also affected other rights of children: for instance, there have been increases in domestic violence, as well as an inability to access school meals that provided much-needed nutrition.


The full effect the pandemic has had on children’s rights remains as yet unknown. However, it is important that we take stock and evaluate what guidance international human rights law relating to children and their domestic constitutional rights can provide in deciding how to approach the challenges of the coming year and beyond.


For instance, Article 6 of the Convention on the Rights of the Childs (CRC) and Article 5 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) respectively provide that a child has the right to life, survival and development. These provisions are important as they guide the interpretation and the implementation of the CRC and ACRWC and are unique to these instruments. Notably, the right to development is to be interpreted and applied in a holistic manner. But, what obligations does such an approach involve and what policy prescriptions would it lead to? 


The seminar will engage with a number of important questions, which include the following:

What are, empirically, the negative effects on children’s rights in Africa of the measures taken in responding to COVID-19 – i.e. in relation to lockdowns and school closures?

What guidance does international law and regional instruments provide to governments in addressing these negative impacts? What would they require in moving towards a post-pandemic world to address the rights violations that have occurred?

What positive obligations would these sources of law impose upon governments?

Does human rights law help with balancing the right to health and the right to education?

What role is there for children to participate in decision-making concerning their fundamental rights in a pandemic?

Add to the calendar


Please RSVP to


  • Prof Michael Le Cordeur
    • University of Stellenbosch
  • Prof Aoife Nolan
    • University of Nottingham

Nancy Msibi

Nancy Msibi bild

Project Manager +27 (11) 214 2900-110