Beginning and end of compulsory education

The right to education and access to learning applies to all children without exception, and must be available free of charge. A minimum age is necessary to place an obligation on States to ensure education is available, and to protect against parental resistance. But quality of education and supporting children to learn - in any environment - is just as important. 

Schooling (in a school environment) should be distinguished from education, which encompasses a broader range of opportunities for learning, including some forms of work. But learning must be relevant to children's lives and flexible models made available to allow children to fit education around other aspects of their lives, such as working and caring for relatives.

Having said that, where a child has missed out on education, they should have the same number of years’ entitlement to education later in life. 

Read more on page 17 of our discussion paper Age is Arbitrary: Discussion paper on setting minimum ages

Access to justice

Children must be able to demand their right to education in law, and have a range of avenues to challenge violations of this right, including in the national legal system and at the regional and international level. Find relevant case law.

Campaigns and resources

  • The Rights to Education Project’s issues pages on minimum age, quality education and the justiciability of the right to education
  • The World Policy Analysis Center has systematically analysed and developed data related to children’s access to education globally