Special Rapporteur on Right to Development – Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Presented by Merve Tiregul, Olimpia Guidi, Ruth Tesfay and Veronica Grazzi

The right to development for children refers to ensuring that children have access to the necessary conditions for their holistic growth and well-being, encompassing economic, social, political, and cultural dimensions. The planetary crisis, including the climate emergency, biodiversity collapse, and widespread pollution, poses an immediate danger to children’s rights worldwide. Nations have an obligation to address environmental harm and climate change due to the adverse effects of environmental degradation on the enjoyment of children’s rights. As the Convention on the Rights of the Child outlines, children’s rights extend to environmental protection, entitling children to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. i States should take measures to ensure that children are protected from foreseeable premature or unnatural death and threats to their lives and enjoy their right to life with dignity. Such measures include adopting and effectively implementing environmental standards, for example, those related to air and water quality, food safety, lead exposure and greenhouse gas emissions, and all other adequate and necessary environmental measures that protect children’s right to life. Moreover, children have the right to quality education that enables their intellectual, emotional, and social development. However, the right to education is particularly susceptible to the effects of environmental harm. ii This susceptibility can lead to school closures, interruptions in education, increased dropout rates, and damage to school facilities and recreational spaces.

One notable approach in Romania is the establishment of youth councils at the local level. These councils serve as platforms for young people to voice their opinions, propose initiatives, and engage in decision-making processes on issues affecting them and their communities. xiii Through these councils, young people have the opportunity to contribute actively to local governance and advocate for policies that address their needs and concerns. xiv Additionally, Romania has implemented educational programs to promote civic engagement and participatory citizenship among children and youth. xv

The prevalence of anti-Gypsyism, as highlighted in the ECRI’s 2019 Report on Romania, perpetuates bias and exacerbates social marginalisation, with Roma individuals enduring unjust labels and unfair associations with criminality. xix
The national Roma integration strategy addresses these challenges by prioritising education, employment, healthcare, and housing. Recognising Roma as an official ethnic minority, the strategy focuses on ensuring school attendance, especially for Roma girls, and ending school segregation. xx However, poverty rates among children remain high, with nearly 30% enduring poverty spanning three to four years. This issue is especially prominent in rural areas where one out of every two children lives in poverty. xxi Romania’s efforts to integrate Roma children into early childhood education and care and promote Roma entrepreneurship signify steps toward inclusion, yet persistent poverty highlights the need for sustained action and targeted policies.

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i United Nations – Committee on the Rights of the Child. (2023). General comment No. 26 (2023) on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change. https://www.ohchr.org/en/documents/general-comments-and-recommendations/crccgc26general-comment-no-26-2023-childrens-rights

ii ibid

xiii Stănuș, C., & Pop, D. (2021). Local State-Society Relations in Romania. Close Ties in European Local Governance: Linking Local State and Society, 319-335. Available at:https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-44794-6_22
xv Alfirević, N., Arslanagić-Kalajdžić, M., & Lep, Ž. (2023). The role of higher education and civic involvement in converting young adults’ social responsibility to prosocial behaviour. Scientific Reports, 13(1), 2559. Available at:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-02329562-4

xix Council of Europe. (2019). ECRI Report on Romania (Fifth Monitoring Cycle). https://rm.coe.int/fifth-report-on-romania/168094c9e5

xx European Commission. (n.d.). Romania – Facts and figures. https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/policies/justice-andfundamental-rights/combatting-discrimination/roma-eu/roma-equality-inclusion-and-participation-eucountry/romania_en#:~:text=National%20strategy%20for%20Roma%20integration,-

xxi The World Bank & UNICEF. (2017). Romania: Children in public care. https://www.unicef.org/romania/sites/unicef.org.romania/files/2019-04/Romania_Children_in_Public_Care_2014.pdf

Call for Submissions: UN Report of the Rapporteur on Violence on Women and Girls in Sport

Presented by Sara Rossomonte and Olimpia Guidi

Online violence, such as cyberbullying and harassment on social media, compounds these challenges, impacting mental health and well-being. viii

Violence against women in sport settings breaches several human rights of women. Under the Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, women have the right to protection of health and safety in working conditions xii, together with the commitment of the State to take all appropriate measures to ensure the elimination of discrimination of women by any person, organization or enterprise. xiii

Despite significant progress in encouraging girls and women to participate in sports, the sports landscape continues to be predominantly male-dominated, especially in leadership roles. This prevailing culture, along with a lack of transparency and a prioritization of the integrity and profitability of sports over individual well-being, has created an environment conducive to violence against women and girls. xvi

Women and individuals facing additional forms of disadvantage, such as racial or ethnic background, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, and/or socioeconomic status, are at particularly heightened risk of abuse. Violence against women and girls in sports stems from various factors, including power imbalances, the endorsement of abusive methods under a “no pain, no gain” philosophy, the normalization of damaging gender stereotypes, the pervasive male-dominated culture within the sports industry, and inadequate governance of sporting institutions that allows power dynamics to solidify. xxvi

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1 Kavanagh, E., Litchfield, C., & Osborne, J. (2019). Sporting women and social media: Sexualization, misogyny, and gender-based violence in online spaces. International Journal of Sport Communication, 12(4), 552-572. Available at:https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijsc/12/4/article-p552.xml

12 CEDAW, Article 11 (f).

13 CEDAW, Article 2 (e).

16 UNESCO & UN Women, (2023), Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls in Sport- A Handbook for Policy Makers and Sports Practitioners, 11-12. Available at: https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/2023-07/3343_unwomen_unesco_vawg_handbook_6a_singlepage.pdf.

21 UNESCO & UN Women, (2023), Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls in Sport- A Handbook for Policy Makers and Sports Practitioners, 35. Available at: https://www.unwomen.org/sites/default/files/2023-07/3343_unwomen_unesco_vawg_handbook_6a_sing

Addressing poverty in a post-growth era and preparing for future Development Goals

Presented by Olimpia Guidi

Brazil’s departure from sole reliance on GDP is a testament to its commitment to capturing a more comprehensive understanding of societal advancement. i

Brazil’s departure from sole reliance on GDP is a testament to its commitment to capturing a more comprehensive understanding of societal advancement. iii Brazil’s commitment to inclusive economic growth is exemplified through a multi-pronged approach. The cornerstone of these efforts is the implementation of social programs, with Bolsa Família standing out as a pivotal initiative. xiv

In addition to direct financial assistance, Brazil employs a progressive tax system to ensure that the burden of public finances is proportionally distributed. xvii

Brazil’s vast geographical expanse presents both opportunities and challenges. Regional disparities in development, compounded by infrastructural challenges, demand targeted policies to address specific needs. xxiv

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i Johnston, M., Kelly, R.C., Eichler, R. (2023). Brazil’s Economy: GDP vs. GDP per capita.

Available at: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/050815/fundamentals-how-brazil-makes-its-money.asp

iii Instrumentos Internacionales de Derechos Humanos


xiv Sugiyama, N. B., & Hunter, W. (2013). Whither clientelism? Good governance and Brazil’s Bolsa Família program. Comparative Politics, 46(1), 43-62.

Available at: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cuny/cp/2013/00000046/00000001/art00004

xvii Immervoll, H., Levy, H., Nogueira, J. R., O’Donoghue, C., & de Siqueira, R. B. (2006). The impact of Brazil’s tax-benefit system on inequality and poverty.

Available at: https://www.scielo.br/j/rep/a/XHRzZh33LNS9rYJBXd5wRPC/

xxiv Griesse, M. A. (2007). The geographic, political, and economic context for corporate social responsibility in Brazil. Journal of business ethics, 73, 21-37.

Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-006-9194-2

Solutions to promote digital education and prevent online threats

Presented by: Olimpia Guidi

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant challenges for young Filipinos adapting to digital education. The abrupt shift to online learning, driven by social distancing measures, revealed inequalities in access, particularly affecting marginalised youth1. Economic disparities contribute to obstacles in acquiring essential devices and stable internet connections, intensifying the existing digital divide2. This transition disrupted traditional learning methods, emphasising the immediate need for inclusive strategies to cater to diverse student needs3. Additionally, the absence of face-to-face interaction exacerbates feelings of isolation among vulnerable groups, impeding their overall educational experience4.

Emerging Threats

The convergence of digital education and online threats introduces a multifaceted challenge for Filipino youth. The increased reliance on online platforms exposes young learners to explicit content and potential hacking risks. Insufficient digital literacy programs compound these issues, leaving students ill-prepared to navigate the complex digital landscape securely5. The prevalence of cyber threats has direct implications for the mental health and well-being of young individuals6. Integrating robust cybersecurity measures and comprehensive digital literacy curricula into educational frameworks is crucial to empower students to navigate the digital world safely.


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Featured Image by Mircea Iancu from Pixabay

1 Tria, J. Z. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of education in the Philippines: The new normal. International Journal of Pedagogical Development and Lifelong Learning1(1), 2-4. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jose-Tria/publication/341981898_The_COVID-19_Pandemic_through_the_Lens_of_Education_in_the_Philippines_The_New_Normal/links/5edde90f92851c9c5e8fa962/The-COVID-19-Pandemic-through-the-Lens-of-Education-in-the-Philippines-The-New-Normal.pdf

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Medina, V. G., & Todd, R. J. (2019). Young people’s digital safety and wellbeing: findings from Philippines and Qatar. In Information Literacy in Everyday Life: 6th European Conference, ECIL 2018, Oulu, Finland, September 24–27, 2018, Revised Selected Papers 6 (pp. 176-187). Springer International Publishing.

6 Ibid.

Unlocking Venezuela’s future: Addressing Primary Educational Challenges

Written by Olimpia Guidi

Education stands as the cornerstone of a nation’s future, casting a guiding light on the path to development, prosperity, and a brighter tomorrow. The pursuit of knowledge is not just a fundamental human right but a critical catalyst for individual, societal, and economic progress worldwide, transcending borders to unlock opportunities for personal growth and national success. In Venezuela, at the heart of South America, the imperative of education becomes even more pronounced due to the nation’s myriad political, economic, and social challenges. 

This article will delve into the primary challenges within Venezuela’s education system, from funding shortages to deteriorating infrastructure, plummeting enrollment, and diminishing educational quality. These challenges serve as a wake-up call, demanding a closer examination of Venezuela’s educational landscape (Marquez, 2023).Venezuela’s education woes are tightly woven into its past, present, and future fabric. By proactively addressing these issues, the nation can reinvigorate its education system and, by extension, its prospects.

Historical Context

Venezuela’s educational system mirrors the nation’s complex history. It’s vital to traverse the educational past to understand its current challenges. Before the Spanish conquest, indigenous cultures had their knowledge transmission methods. In the 16th century, Spanish colonists introduced significant changes. The Catholic Church established educational institutions to convert and educate the native population (Haggerty, 1990).

In the early 19th century, Venezuela’s fight for independence recognised education as a nation-building tool. In 1827, under Simón Bolívar’s leadership, a pioneering statute was enacted, laying the foundation for a public education system and primary and secondary schools (Bushnell, 1983). The 20th century brought educational expansion and illiteracy eradication (Gonzales, 2019), altering curricula and enhancing teacher training.

However, recent decades have seen Venezuela’s educational system grapple with economic crises, political turmoil, and budget constraints, impacting its stability and quality. Reforms were introduced in response to these challenges, yielding mixed outcomes. The introduction of the Higher Education Law in 2010 was part of a broader set of education reforms. Unfortunately, these reforms, including changes in university autonomy and regulations for social inclusion, faced implementation challenges.

The law’s impact raised concerns about academic freedom and compromised the quality of education in the higher education sector, contributing to the overall challenges within Venezuela’s educational system. This connection between historical context and contemporary reforms highlights the complexity of the issues facing the nation’s education system.

Current Educational Challenges

In Venezuela’s contemporary educational landscape, several challenges undermine the holistic development of the nation’s youth. These complex issues are deeply intertwined with political and economic turmoil, affecting access to education and financial resources. The following sections will delve into these problems, exploring their consequences and the ongoing search for effective solutions.

Infrastructure and Maintenance Issues

The deteriorating infrastructure of educational institutions threatens the basic foundations of high-quality education in Venezuela. The safety and supportive learning environment essential to fostering great education has been compromised by deteriorating school structures and poor upkeep (Marquez, 2023). For instance, many schools in Caracas, the nation’s capital, have dilapidated infrastructure, including leaking roofs and collapsing walls.

In addition, 85% of public schools lack internet access, 69% experience severe electrical shortages, and 45% lack running water (World Bank, 2023). These startling figures highlight the critical need for infrastructure renewal to provide Venezuela’s pupils with a secure and supportive learning environment.

Worries have been expressed about the infrastructure problem, which not only jeopardises the well-being of educators working within these unstable premises but also looms over the holistic growth of children. Apprehensions have arisen regarding the possible impacts of this challenge on students’ psychological well-being and physical security. It is imperative to address these multifaceted infrastructural challenges to ensure that students can learn in a safe, supportive, and conducive environment, which is fundamental to their educational journey.

Brain Drain and Teacher Shortages

Venezuela’s educational system grapples with a two-pronged challenge stemming from teachers’ scarcity and inadequate income. This dilemma is exacerbated by the ‘brain drain’ – the departure of educated professionals seeking better prospects abroad – and the consequent shortage of qualified educators. Particularly evident in regions like Mérida, once a vibrant university town, this loss of skilled teachers has left schools in a state of understaffing, resulting in significant imbalances in student-teacher ratios (The World Factbook, 2022).

The scarcity of educators with the necessary qualifications further compounds the issue. Some teachers have abandoned the profession or sought opportunities abroad due to wage disparities and difficult working conditions (Zea, 2020). The high student-teacher ratios alone pose a significant burden, but the exodus of talent exacerbates the problem, hindering the ability to deliver targeted instruction and effective pedagogical engagement.

It is essential to underscore that the shortage of teachers in Venezuela directly results from the ‘brain drain’ and the inadequate compensation provided to educators. Many teachers, unable to make a decent living on their salaries, have resorted to strikes and protests in response to this dire situation. This twofold dilemma significantly compounds the challenges faced by the educational system, raising serious concerns about the continuity and quality of education in the nation.

Venezuelan Refugees in Brazil, 2018. Photo by Romério Cunha / Casa Civil Presidência da República via Flickr

Impact of the Economic Crisis                          

Funding for the education sector has dramatically decreased due to Venezuela’s economic crisis. The lack of money leaves schools with few resources to deliver high-quality education and impacts the provision of necessary services and teacher salaries. Many schools find it challenging to keep up with basic maintenance, much less update their curricula or invest in cutting-edge technology.

The government’s ability to fund education investments has also been limited since other budgetary priorities like infrastructure and healthcare have taken precedence (UNESCO, 2023). Because of this, efforts to deliver a high-quality education are hampered, and funding for education is disrupted.

Furthermore, the financial crisis has reached a point where many parents find it increasingly challenging to afford to send their children to school. The economic hardships have pushed families to make agonising choices, sometimes prioritising essentials like food and shelter over their children’s education (Sanchez & Rodriguez, 2019).

This heartbreaking reality has led to declining student enrollment as more children are forced to stay out of school due to financial constraints. It also highlights a worrisome trend where access to education is no longer a guarantee for many Venezuelan children, further deepening the educational challenges faced by the country.

The financial crisis has not only impacted education spending but has also restricted the ability of families to provide their children with the fundamental right to education.

Political Instability and Impact on Education

Political unrest in Venezuela has developed into a recurrent and disruptive force that significantly impacts the educational system. The sudden closure of schools, the postponement of courses, and the relocation of pupils are characteristics of these situations.The unpredictability of such occurrences adds a chaotic element to the educational environment, leaving students and teachers unsure about the continuation of their academic endeavours.

The country’s approach to education has suffered from a lack of continuity and coherence, one of its most severe effects due to this political unrest.Every time a new leadership is appointed, educational policies are revised, resulting in a fractured and fragmented foundation for education. It is difficult to execute long-term strategies for improvement because of these frequent changes that disturb the educational ecology (Education World, 2023).

This puts teachers and students in limbo and makes it harder to provide high-quality education consistently. Political unrest disrupts the operation of the educational system and affects students’ educational experiences in a long-lasting way.

In addition, the effects of the unrest transcend far beyond the short-term interruptions to Venezuela’s educational system. The nation’s future is now in doubt due to the instability, which prevents the growth of an educated and skilled labour force due to ongoing changes in educational and political policies. The potential for advancement in the country is jeopardised as pupils struggle with missed classes and teachers battle to keep up with ever-shifting mandates. Political unrest’s long-term effects on education are felt in the classroom and Venezuela’s broader socioeconomic prospects, making it difficult for its population to navigate an unsteady educational environment.

Efforts and Initiatives

The government of Venezuela continues to deny the terrible condition of the educational system in the nation. The prospects for Venezuelan school children would be quite bleak if not for the brave efforts of foreign humanitarian groups, private charities, and the helpful aid from parents and local volunteers. These youngsters, who lack access to school, will have an unclear future and will be more vulnerable to exploitation. Numerous other organisations are stepping forward to start programs to change the situation due to the government’s apparent unwillingness to confront the problems in the educational system.

Among them is UNICEF, a leading advocate for children’s rights worldwide. Their 2021 initiatives cover a variety of crucial activities:

• Balanced School Meals: To promote the healthy development of over 110,000 students, balanced school meals are provided.

• School Supplies: Providing more than 304,000 kids with necessary school supplies can make their educational journey easier.

• Life Skills Development: Through specialised programs, equipping more than 50,000 teenagers with useful life skills.

• Preparing more than 10,000 teachers through programs, such as those geared toward a safe return to school.

• Support for Teachers: Enabling nearly 7,000 teachers to carry out their vital tasks more efficiently by providing them with food incentives, financial aid, and technological equipment.

In addition to UNICEF’s efforts, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) significantly contributes to resolving Venezuela’s educational problems. NRC works with various partners to develop solutions and assist disadvantaged families in keeping their children in school.

NRC is aware of the complicated circumstances of displacement and financial difficulties that frequently drive children out of school. This is especially crucial in light of the socioeconomic crisis that has resulted in a paucity of school supplies, deteriorating infrastructure, and a lack of teachers.

To support students returning to school after lengthy absences, NRC’s holistic approach includes disseminating instructional resources, enhancing teacher training, and improving school infrastructure to improve accessibility and hygiene. These programs address critical issues and highlight the possibility of significant reform in the country’s educational system, offering a glimmer of hope for the future of education in Venezuela.


Significant funding shortfalls, deteriorating infrastructure, dropping enrollment rates, and declining educational standards are some significant issues facing Venezuela’s educational system. It is imperative that these issues are addressed in the context of the nation. When we examine these problems through the prism of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it becomes clear that they play a crucial role in the trajectory of the nation’s growth. In particular, SDG 4, which aims to guarantee inclusive and high-quality education for all, is closely related to these educational difficulties.

The change in the educational system is crucial for the welfare of the Venezuelan population and possibilities for the future. It is crucial to acknowledge that access to high-quality education is a fundamental human right and a pillar of greater social and economic development, in keeping with the global commitment to the SDGs. Venezuela may navigate a road towards reaching the SDGs and pave the way for a more egalitarian, successful, and promising future for all its residents by making significant efforts to solve these educational difficulties.

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  • Haggerty, R.A. (1990). Venezuela: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.
  • Marquez, H. (2023). Venezuela’s Educational System Heading Towards State of Total Collapse. Inter Press Service.
  • Norwegian Refugee Council. (2022). NRC in Venezuela.
  • Sanchez, E., Rodriguez, L. (2019). 4 Ways the Venezuelan Crisis is Affecting Children’s Education.  Global Citizen.
  • The World Factbook. (2022). Explore All Countries Venezuela.
  • UNESCO. (2023). Country Profile: Venezuela.
  • World Bank. (2023). Education in Venezuela.
  • Garcia Zea, D. (2020). Brain drains in Venezuela: the scope of the human capital crisis. Human Resource Development International, 23(2), pp.188-195.

Featured Image: Venezuela, 2016. Photo by tomscoffin via Flickr