E ducation

Authored by: Nathalia E. Jaramillo , Peter McLaren , Jean J. Ryoo

T he H andbook of S ociology and H uman R ights

Print publication date:  February  2013
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9781594518829
eBook ISBN: 9781315634227
Adobe ISBN: 9781317258391


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The importance of education as a human right has become widely accepted, in theory, with the 1948 publication of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the subsequent 1990 UNESCO World Declaration on Education for All. Both these documents, partial artifacts of a post–World War II climate, referenced existing educational disparities among states as well as an ideological shift toward addressing the “root” causes of social turmoil and strife. These documents also advanced a predominantly modernist paradigm for education in the wake of massive industrialization and uneven economic and social development/ exploitation between the world’s periphery states and the capitalist core (Ishay 2008). The growing connections among education, state building, capitalist development, and liberal-progressive models of democratic governance gave credence to universal tropes associated with education as a human right within these global frameworks in terms of education providing means necessary for citizens’ meaningful participation in society. This is not to suggest, however, that either of these treaties provided an elaborate or even sufficient definition of education per se. In fact, neither did. While Education for All identified literacy, numeracy, and basic problem-solving skills as fundamental to social progress and human welfare, many questions remained unanswered about how to justify education as a human right and how to define education altogether, given cultural, historical, and material differences (Spring 2000).

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