The right to education is increasingly difficult or even impossible to realize in many countries, especially in the third world. Like all economic rights, it requires a financial and material base which is not available to the greater part of the population. The right to education means that an individual has the possibility to receive education, to provide it for his children and to be free in the choice of that education. Violations of and disregard for the right to education take the form of insufficient schooling for children, a high proportion of school drop-outs and constantly declining rates of literacy. These practices are sometimes tantamount to a pure and simple negation of the right. The quality and standard of education is at present being seriously affected as a result of the shorter working hours, smaller numbers and diminishing skills of teachers.
A UNESCO study shows that, in the hundred least advanced countries, the education budget has been more than halved over 10 years. This reveals a clear lack of concern for education on the part of national authorities. Furthermore, the World Bank has shown very little regard for the difficulties surrounding the realization of the right to education by imposing harsh cuts in the educational budgets of developing countries. In many African countries the principle of free primary and even secondary education had in the past enabled many poor people to receive at least basic teaching. Now that this principle has been abandoned, education, which has become as expensive. as health and housing, is out of the reach of the most deprived segments of the population.
The effective enjoyment by every individual of the right to education should be a constant concern of national and international institutions, whether private or public. In seeking such enjoyment, it should be borne in mind that the individual is not only the beneficiary but also the architect. Education must not be an instrument for the destruction of the culture of peoples or the social fabric. Literacy must be functional so that the individual is able to make use of it in carrying out his work, particularly in labouring and agricultural environments. Consequently, literacy courses must not be a simple teaching of the letters of an alphabet but must also be applicable to the recipient's vocational life.