The right to education has been universally recognised since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 (though referred to by the ILO as early as the 1920s) and has since been enshrined in various international conventions, national constitutions and development plans. However, while the vast majority of countries have signed up to, and ratified, international conventions (such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) far fewer have integrated these rights into their national constitutions or provided the legislative and administrative frameworks to ensure that these rights are realised in practice. In some cases the right exists along with the assumption that the user should pay for this right, undermining the very concept of a right. In others, the right exists in theory but there is no capacity to implement this right in practice. Inevitably, a lack of government support for the right to education hits the poorest hardest. Today, the right to education is still denied to millions around the world.
As well as being a right in itself, the right to education is also an enabling right. Education ‘creates the “voice” through which rights can be claimed and protected’, and without education people lack the capacity to ‘achieve valuable functionings as part of the living’. If people have access to education they can develop the skills, capacity and confidence to secure other rights. Education gives people the ability to access information detailing the range of rights that they hold, and government’s obligations. It supports people to develop the communication skills to demand these rights, the confidence to speak in a variety of forums, and the ability to negotiate with a wide range of government officials and power holders.
The ‘Heff Khuri’ village of Shopian, Kashmir Valley is a microcosm of the water shortage issues the whole Kashmir is facing now. The villagers over there are dependent on smaller streams for a long time now, for their drinking water.