Learning Lesson From Litigators

Realising the Right to Education Through Public Interest Lawyering

In 2017, a staggering 262 million (or one in five) children and youth were out of school.

More worrying still, this rises to one in three children and youth in low and low-middle-income countries. Many of them will never enter a classroom.

Lawyers and activists have turned to courts across the world to find effective ways of achieving the right to an education.

The Oxford Human Rights Hub, with support from Open Society Foundations, has drawn together the foremost litigators from four different continents to produce an exciting new documentary style online course on litigating for the right to education.

Drawing on the extensive research of Professor Fredman, Dr Campbell and the OxHRHub team, Learning Lessons from Litigators juxtaposes the experience and perspectives of leading strategic litigators from the US, Brazil, India and South Africa to examine the best ways in which lawyers can use courts to achieve the right to education.

The course, which is available on the OxHRH website and YouTube channel and has been viewed multiple times, provides a rich resource to empower lawyers and activists all over the world to achieve the right to education through litigation.

Professor Sandra Fredman, who led the project on behalf of the Oxford Human Rights Hub, said: “The right to education is a binding legal right to be enjoyed by every child. Yet the rights of the millions of children who are unable to go to school are being breached every day.

“There is a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of litigation, as well as the best strategies to pursue such cases. Information about best practices, and the opportunities and pitfalls in campaigns for the right to education are often hard to access.

“We need to share experience across borders and disciplines so that research informs practice and vice-versa.” “LLL is unique in making the best use of technology—interview videos, sophisticated editing to focus each module on key legal questions and live online engagement with the launch of each module.”

The course developed out of an initial partnership with Open Society Foundations where we conducted an interactive webcast on the human rights implication of public-private partnerships in education. It has been the catalyst for further partnerships with lawyers and academics in South Africa, India, US and Brazil.

Professor Ann Skelton, UNESCO Chair in Education Law in Africa and one of the foremost litigators for the right to education said: “Learning Lessons from Litigators (LLL) is a pioneering resource that uses the connective power of technology to draw together a wealth of experience from litigators around the world to explore successful strategies and confront the challenges of using law to effect transformative change.”

The episodes have formed part of reading lists for undergraduate students at the University of Oxford and in the jurisdictions covered in the series. It is also being used by academics working in prisons to educate incarcerated individuals on the value of strategic litigation. UNESCO commissioned the OxHRH Hub to put together a blog series for their World Education Blog on the issues explored in the modules. Going forward, this series is serving as a springboard for a new partnership with the World Health Organization around sexual and reproductive health rights.


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