The Right to Education

The right to education

Your rights under the UNCRC

UNCRC, Article 28: It’s your right to have a good quality education. You should be encouraged to go to school to the highest level you can.

Your rights under Irish law

Under Article 42 of the Irish Constitution, it’s your right to have access to free primary education.

-Under the Education Welfare Act 2000, it’s your right to leave State education at 16 years of age, or after you have finished three years at secondary school.

Under the Education Act 1998, it’s your right to form a student council in your school, and for your school to support you with it.

-Under the Education for Special Educational Needs Act 2004, it’s your right to say in a mainstream school, where possible, if you have a special educational need.

Did you know?

  • The Constitution of Ireland recognises the family as the main educator of the child and parents can decide to educate their children at home.
  • There are about 890,000 children and young people in primary and secondary school in Ireland.
  • There are 32% more special needs assistants (SNAs) in schools since 2011, according to the CRA report card 2018.
  • In the academic year 2016/2017, 96% of primary schools in Ireland have a religious patron, with 89.7% under the Catholic Church. This means that the Church is involved in how the schools are run.
  • The Department of Education’s Action Plan on Education 2016-2019 plans to transfer some schools which are run under Catholic patronage to new patrons where the support of communities exist. There is a target of creating 400 non-denominational schools.
  • Over 90% of young people in Ireland completed second-level education in 2014, with half of these young people going on to third level education (college).
  • A person is three times more likely to go on to higher education if their parents have higher education, than those whose parents have not completed secondary level education, according to OECD indicators in 2014.
  • According to a 2016 report by TASC, 1 in 3  young people aged 13 years in the bottom income households (poorer) expect to achieve a third level education, compared to 2 in 3  young people in the top income households.
  • Young Travellers are among several groups of children in Ireland who can face additional barriers to and in education. The State of the Nation’s Children Report (2016) shows that almost 7 out of 10 Traveller children lived in families where the mother had either no formal education or a primary education only.
  • According to a 2017 survey by Barnardos, the average costs of sending children and young people to school in 2017 are €355 for a child in senior infants, €395 for a child in 4th class, and €800 for a young person in 1st year. Things that parents have to pay for can include uniforms, books, transport, sports equipment and art materials. 7% of parents surveyed go into debt to pay for the extra costs of sending a child to school.

Hear your right – read by Callum Millar

As Gaelige

Tá sé de cheart agat oideachas ardchaighdeáin a fháil. Ba chóir go spreagfaí tú freastal ar scoil agus an leibhéal is airde oideachais agus is féidir a bhaint amach.

Éist le do chearta – léite ag Keeva Ní Bhaoill

What children and young people are saying

  • “I think in school people should be more broad-minded … They should have more awareness of other people’s cultures.” – Children from Co Westmeath

    “I think we should be more focused on IT and I think we should learn how to create computer software and computer programming.” – Young person from Co Mayo

    “We think that every child in education should take away life skills. Like learning how to take money out of a bank, loans, bills, Or writing a letter to somebody and cooking, even how to follow a recipe.” -Children from Co Wexford

    “You should get to find out more things about yourself through education. Like discover your own talents and skills rather than it being forced upon you that you have to do this, this and this to get on. It’s just very stressful, you don’t really get to find out much about yourself through education.” – Young person from Co Louth

    “I think every child should feel accomplished coming out of school. That they would have achieved what they wanted to and feel proud” – Young person from Co Longford

    “Everybody learns differently and maybe people should be assessed by how they learn best. Some might learn by watching, some might learn by writing and some might learn by actually doing. If people were assessed by how they learn best and they were taught that way, it would probably help.” – Young person from Co Mayo

    “You gain a lot of communication skills that you use throughout life from sport and team sports. And you need a lot of communication skills to get life success.” – Young person from Co Wexford

  • A group of teenagers from Daingean Youth Club in County Offaly, who are funded by the Irish Youth Foundation, visit Science Gallery and Makehop in Trinity College Dublin. They learn all about the amazing world of FAT, and in Makeshop they learn how to solder and build an LED torch for themselves. They talk to us about what inspires them and how important it is to learn about different areas and develop new skills.

    Animation about children’s and young people’s views on dealing with bullying schools

    Children and young people share their views on children’s rights to survive and develop

Find out more

  • Cartoons for Children’s Rights – A short cartoon about children’s right to education, made for Unicef’s Cartoons for Children’s Rights initiative
  • Know your rights– Find out more about your rights in education in Ireland from the ICCL and the Children’s Rights Alliance
  • Malala Yousafazai – Malala Yousafazai was 17 years old when she became the youngest ever person to win a Nobel Peace Prize in October 2014. She has since become a global advocate for the right to education. Listen to her Nobel prize speech

Explore More – Resource materials for Teachers & Educators

  • Council of Europe – ‘A body of knowledge’. Activity for 7-13 year olds to explore their development of knowledge and skills and to consider consequences for children of not being able to enjoy their right to education. In Compasito. Manual on Human Rights Education for Children (2009), pp.53-55.
  • Amnesty International UK – ‘Willy’s Stories’. Ideas for using this book by Anthony Browne to explore the right to education and some related rights with children.
  • United Nations – ‘The right to education’. Activities for children and young people to explore the right to education. In Teaching Human Rights: Practical Activities for Primary and Secondary Schools (2004), pp.79-82.
  • National Youth Council of Ireland et al – ‘Right to Learn’. An activity for children aged 8 years and over to explore education as a right and its importance to young people’s development. In Setting Our Sights on Rights (2014), pp.26-27.
  • Citizens Information Board – ‘School’. A range of educational activities to develop young people’s understanding of their rights and entitlements in school and education. In Rights and Entitlements for Young People (2010), pp.79-98.
  • UNICEF UK – ‘All Work and No School.’ An activity for children and young people (11-16 years) to explore how children’s right to education can be compromised by child labour. In Thinking Rights. What happens when rights seem to conflict? (2009), pp.61-69.
  • World’s Largest Lesson – A range of resources to support children and young people of different ages to learn about and take action relating to the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which include a goal relating to education (Goal 4).