Education is a Right-- Not a Privilege

Beatriz S.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to education… Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms." Education is a right, not a privilege, and everyone should be allowed to have one, even though some circumstances these past couple of years have made it so less accessible.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve been living in for nearly two years, education has suffered. As stated by the Brookings Institution, “One and a half billion children and young people are affected, representing 87 percent of the enrolled population.” Lockdowns and high case numbers made it unsafe for students to attend in-person classes. The government made online classes the new normal, but this form of education raised many problems. Even though the severity of the problems varies on several factors such as parents' income or the region they live in, all students were affected by this unexpected change. 

(A mother helps her daughter as she attends a virtual class in Jakarta, Indonesia, World Bank)

(A mother helps her daughter as she attends a virtual class in Jakarta, Indonesia, World Bank)

Before the pandemic, 258 million children weren't being educated in both the primary and secondary levels, and that number increased after schools in more than 190 countries were forced to close their doors. For less developed countries, this pandemic landed many in financial trouble, meaning many children were now without access to a good and safe education. For less-developed nations, the pandemic had the effect of barring many children from a proper and safe education. According to UNESCO, dropout rates have increased, and at the time of this article “24 million children/youth, from the lower and middle class were at risk of dropping out of school.” 

(Scenario of 70% of school closure, very low mitigation effectiveness, no remediation, and WB-MPO June, Azevedo, et al 2020)

The pandemic has also affected the accessibility of education for several oppressed minorities, such as Black, Hispanic, and Native American. In less-developed nations, girls’ education was more likely to be affected by the pandemic. Education for girls in many countries has been more complicated and has erased some of the progress done on the termination of toxic, traditional gender roles. Girls in poorer countries are more likely to drop out, and as a result, are more vulnerable to things such as child marriage and domestic violence. Due to society's misogynist and traditional roles, girls were coerced now more than ever to help around the house with chores, making it hard for them to continue to pursue an education. 
In the United States, the Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities experienced even greater inequality due to the lack of resources available to them. The Harvard Gazette reports that “All of the nation’s schoolchildren have fallen behind, with students of color having lost the most ground...” These children were getting far behind in important material, making it difficult to continue learning. 

(A young boy on his computer in a darkened room, presumably at night, “How COVID Taught America about Inequity in Education.” Harvard Gazette)

Fortunately, schools in most countries are opening up with multiple safety policies in line to make a safer and more accessible learning environment. Even though not everyone is able to go to in-person classes yet, we have to work together to ensure that these children have the best education they can get under these unfortunate circumstances. 

Work Cited

Burgess, Simon, and Hans Henrik Sievertsen. "Schools, Skills, and Learning: The Impact of COVID-19 on Education." VOX, 1 Apr. 2020, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

Burke, Lilah. "Moving into the Long Term." Inside Higher ED, 27 Oct. 2020, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

García, Emma, and Elaine Weiss. "COVID-19 and Student Performance, Equity, and U.S. Education Policy." Economic Policy Institute, 10 Sept. 2020, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

Kuhfeld, Megan, et al. "How is COVID-19 Affecting Student Learning?" Brookings, 2 Dec. 2020, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

"One Year into COVID-19 Education Disruption: Where Do We Stand?" UNESCO, 19 Mar. 2021, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

Patel, Dee. "Online Learning's Impact on Student Performance." Penn Today, 25 June 2021, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

Paz, Isabella Grullón. "Pandemic and Racial Injustice Cause Outsize Harm to Black Students, Study Finds." The New York Times, 27 July 2021, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

Simon, Clea. "How COVID Taught America about Inequity in Education." The Harvard Gazette, 9 July 2021, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

Thomson, Christopher J. "Coronavirus and Challenging Times for Education in Developing Countries." Brookings, 13 Apr. 2020, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

"Universal Declaration of Human Rights." United Nations, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

"Urgent, Effective Action Required to Quell the Impact of COVID-19 on Education Worldwide." The World Bank, 22 Jan. 2021, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

"What You Need to Know about the Right to Education." UNESCO, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.

"Years Don't Wait for Them." Human Rights Watch, Accessed 13 Oct. 2021.