1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, and further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
2. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that, with a view to achieving the full realization of this right:
(a) Primary education shall be compulsory and available free to all;
(b) Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(c) Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education;
(d) Fundamental education shall be encouraged or intensified as far as possible for those persons who have not received or completed the whole period of their primary education;
(e) The development of a system of schools at all levels shall be actively pursued, an adequate fellowship system shall be established, and the material conditions of teaching staff shall be continuously improved.
3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.
State Report paragraphs 388-450
Funding allocated to the Department of Education and Skills amounted to €8.8 billion and accounts for 17 per cent of the overall budget. In the 2013/2014 academic year there were 528,562 primary school pupils enrolled in 3145 State-supported mainstream primary schools and 333,175 secondary level students enrolled in 723 State-supported post-primary schools.1 The Government estimates that enrolment in primary schools will grow by more than 45,000 children at primary school level and 25,000 at post-primary level by 2017.2 To address the increased enrolments and to improve conditions in schools, in 2012 the Government launched a €2 billion five-year investment programme involving 275 major school building projects.3 These steps will go some way to addressing the quality issue raised by schools in 2012 that have been forced to seek funding from parents or from alternative sources.4
1 Department of Education and Skills (2014) Key Statistics 2013/2014, Dublin: DES, p.1.
2 Department of Education and Skills, ‘Minister Quinn announces 70 major school building projects as part of €2bn five year plan’ [press release], 29 November 2013.
3 Department of Education and Skills, ‘Minister Quinn announces details of 275 school building projects – More than 15,000 jobs to be created over five years’ [press release], 12 March 2012.