The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), in partnership with the Economic, Social and Cultural National Network/Justice & Rights Institute Nepal (JuRI-Nepal), the Public Interest Litigation LawyersGroup (Nepalgunj), and the Privatisation in Education and Human Rights Consortium (PEHRC), has launched a mentorship program geared towards training young lawyers on international law and standards applicable to private actor involvement in education.
The 22 lawyers who will benefit from the programme are from Bagmati and Lumbini Province. To kick off the program, workshops were held on 23 September in Kathmandu and 28 September in Nepalgunj.
“We are delighted to initiate this mentorship program and are hopeful that it will be helpful to prepare a new set of human rights lawyers capable of and dedicated to advancing the realization of the right to education in Nepal in the context of burgeoning privatization,” said Karuna Parajuli, ICJ National Legal Adviser.
“The State has the primary role in guaranteeing access to education for all persons without discrimination of any kind. We hope that knowledge of their specific duties around will assist Nepali lawyers to identify issues and support their clients in enjoying their rights to education and ensuring effective and adequate regulation of private actors in education, added Parajuli.
Opening the workshop in Nepalgunj Judge Harka Bahadur Gurung emphasized the importance of these issues in the Nepali context:
“The current educational system in Nepal has segregated children as those going to high-fee private schools and others going to public schools with no basic infrastructure. Your litigation initiative should focus to remove this division and enable each student equal access to free and quality education”.
“The Constitution of Nepal guarantees education as a human right which is fully enforceable before Nepali Courts. This provides a strong avenue to initiate strategic litigation, which remains underutilized”, said ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser Mandira Sharma. “We encourage the mentees in this programme and Nepali lawyers more broadly to work towards crafting innovative advocacy strategies directed at fully realizing right to education in Nepal”, she concluded.
Dr Mandira Sharma, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, t: +9779851048475, e: email@example.com
Karuna Parajuli, ICJ Legal Adviser, Nepal, t: +9779808431222, e: firstname.lastname@example.org
International law and standards on the right to education are spelled out in various treaties binding on Nepal such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Further detail on States’ obligations to restrict, regulate and monitor private actor involvement in education are further details in a range of standards including the general comments of UN Treaty Body Mechanisms and the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education.
Following the workshops, participants worked in groups to formulate an action plan for their mentorship period. They have been paired up with mentors (that include a senior advocate, senior litigating lawyers, and an ESCR expert). The mentorship program will run from October 2023 to March 2024.
The mentorship program is organized with the support of the Privatization in Education and Human Rights Consortium (PEHRC), an informal network of national, regional, and global organizations and individuals collaborating to analyse and respond to the challenges posed by the rapid growth of private actors in education from a human rights perspective and propose alternatives.
The main objectives of the mentorship program are to train young lawyers on how to utilize strategic litigation for claiming the right to education; expand their knowledge of international law (including Abidjan Principles) and share good practices on the right to education in other parts of the world.