Article 28 of the UNCRC says that children and young people have the right to education no matter who they are: regardless of race, gender or disability; if they’re in detention, or if they’re a refugee.
Children and young people have the right to both primary and secondary education and should be able to choose different subjects when in secondary school. This should include the option of technical and vocational training, so they shouldn’t have to focus on academic subjects if they don’t want to.
Education and the government
Governments should support children and young people in education. They should:
- make efforts to reduce dropout rates from school
- make sure teachers can’t use violence against children or young people
- make sure teachers don’t publicly humiliate children or young people
- make sure children or young people aren’t bullied by their teachers or classmates.
Access to water is a human right. It’s essential to a child’s right to health, and to fully realising their right to education.
In 2019 the Children’s Future Food Inquiry report identified access to free drinking water in schools as a key issue which disproportionately impacts children experiencing poverty and food insecurity.
Education authorities in Scotland are required to provide drinking water to children in schools. This duty is set out in Regulation 7 of The Nutritional Requirements for Food and Drink in Schools (Scotland) Regulations 2020.
This is still the law during the coronavirus pandemic.
No emergency law or policy has changed this.
No guidance has been issued at a national level which would prevent water being provided to children in school for health reasons.
It is important that access to drinking water is provided safely and education authorities should support schools to do this.
If you’re not being allowed access to fresh water at your school – or if you know of a child or young person who’s being denied it – you should contact the head teacher in the first instance and draw their attention to the regulations and to this statement.
If necessary you can ask the head teacher to seek advice from the education authority, who should support them to ensure that drinking water can be provided within the school in a way that protects the rights to health of children and staff.
The Commissioner’s office has written to the Scottish Government asking them to provide clarity to schools on this matter.
More in the Rights questions and answers section
General Comment on the aims of education
The Committee on the Rights of the Child has produced many General Comments that help people understand how the UNCRC works in practice. Their first, General Comment 1, is about the aims of education from a human rights perspective.
Some Days of General Discussion relevant to Article 28 are: