The Right to Education: Comparing Educational Rights in Japan, El Salvador, and the United States

By Benitez, Yanet Marisol | Houston Journal of International Law, Summer 2014 | Go to article overview

The Right to Education: Comparing Educational Rights in Japan, El Salvador, and the United States


Benitez, Yanet Marisol, Houston Journal of International Law


 I.  Introduction II.  The "Right to an Education"      A. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights      B. International Covenant on Economic, Social and         Cultural Rights      C. The Convention on the Rights of a Child      D. Implementation of the Right to Education III. The United States, Japan, and El Salvador, and      their Right to Education      A. The United States      B. Japan      C. El Salvador  IV. Conclusion 

I. Introduction

Education is fundamental in the developmental stages of children and is generally referred to as "the key which allows people to move up in the world, seek better jobs, and ultimately succeed in their lives." (1) The subject of education in the United States is one that is widely discussed, and calls for education reform have been made. (2) Not only is this the case in the United States, but also in countries around the world. (3) This is such a high-priority topic in the international community that several international instruments guarantee the right to basic education. The right to education was included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of a Child, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (4) This Comment will analyze the right to education as found in these three international instruments; the interpretation of the right to education by signatories of these treaties; and the steps that nations have taken in order to ratify the treaties.

In addition to analyzing the right to education as found in international instruments, this Comment will also focus on how these rights have been interpreted. Although the right to education has been universally recognized, education systems vary by country. (5) Several nations have ratified the right to basic education either through their constitutions, legislation, or ratification of the treaties, but each has interpreted the right to basic education differently. These different interpretations have led to different education laws, policies, and practices. (6)

This Comment will focus on the right to education and its interpretation in three different countries: the United States, Japan, and El Salvador. These countries were chosen because of their particular interpretation of the right to an education, the varying expansiveness of that interpretation, the different laws and policies that have been implemented in order to secure the right to an education, the reputation of the education system in the country as compared to other countries, and its status within the international community. (7) In analyzing these nations' interpretations of the right to education and their individual education reform efforts, it is clear that improvements must be made. These improvements must consider the economic and social statuses of different nations and need to be made on an international level in order to guarantee all children the right to education.

II. THE "RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION"

"[E]ducation is the process of instruction aimed at the all round development of individuals, providing the necessary tools and knowledge to understand and participate in day to day activities of today's world." (8) The importance of education in the development of a child is widely recognized. As previously mentioned, the right to an education is recognized by several international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. (9)

Yanet Marisol Benitez, Benitez received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2014 and her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2011. This Comment received the 2013 Lex Writing Excellence Award for a Topic in International Law. The Author would first like to thank her family for their unwavering love and support while she continues her education. …

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