25 June 2021
Libraries Feature in Recommendation to the Human Rights Council on Cultural Dimensions of the Right to Education
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, has submitted a report to the Human Rights Council, underlining how the right to education is a cultural right.
In parallel, it is essential to consider the cultural dimension in order to deliver on the right to inclusive and quality education, as called for by Sustainable Development Goal #4. Access to diverse cultural resources in education systems is critical for the cultural relevance of such systems, and impacts on the ability of learners to make the most of knowledge. As the report underlines, libraries can be crucial to achieving this.
This report, which can be read online here, was informed by a questionnaire circulated to member states, agencies, and civil society stakeholders in early 2020. IFLA submitted a response highlighting good practices and lessons learned through library efforts to ensure access to culture in educational contexts.
The inclusion of libraries in the resulting report and recommendations by the Special Rapporteur is a testament to the importance of library collections and services in ensuring universal human rights. This includes providing access to cultural resources, allowing users to participate in cultural life, enabling participatory processes, and ensuring access to relevant cultural knowledge for all.
The report mentions that school and public libraries, for example, may work in tandem with education providers to help facilitate creation of materials that reflect the cultures of the community, including marginalised and/or underrepresented cultures. Libraires have special knowledge of and connection to their communities and can help identify and act on these needs.
To this end, the Special Rapporteur recommends that member states encourage cooperation between libraries, educational institutions, and other relevant actors in order to ensure access to educational materials drawn from diverse cultural experiences.
Most notably, the Special Rapporteur recommends that non-formal and informal education actors (such as libraries) be considered full participants in educational life.
IFLA upholds the role of libraries as critical actors in ensuring lifelong learning for all people and commends the Special Rapporteur for advancing this recognition through this recommendation.
We also stress that access to information includes access to culturally relevant materials, both traditional and digital, as well as material in diverse languages. We encourage education actors and all relevant stakeholders to partner closely with libraries to ensure access to these resources, within the context of plans to ensure inclusive and quality education for all.
Read more about IFLA’s position on the role of libraries as cultural rights defenders here.