While China has frequently been accused of challenging international human rights, its involvement with the right to education has rarely been the centre of scholarly attention. Education as a fundamental right is deemed essential to securing social justice, enhancing individuals’ dignity, and enabling their enjoyment of other rights. This paper investigates the degree to which China adheres to UDHR Article 26(1) through Tomaševski’s three dimensions of education. Methodologically, this paper adopts elements of both document analysis and critique of practice by drawing on China’s official law documents and practical applications, as well as academic literature on international human rights. This paper found that while the Chinese government shares some common ground with the UDHR on the right to education, it detracts from what is endorsed and implied in UDHR Article 26(1) to a large extent. Notably, due to different ideological beliefs between China and the dominant international community, nuances abound in the interpretations of the right to education and priorities placed on each aspect of this right. Furthermore, this paper noticed that under the present social and cultural conditions, it is difficult for China to translate its stated ambitions, which sometimes align with UDHR Article 26(1), into reality. Broadly, this paper contributes to the limited research on education as a fundamental human right in the Chinese context. It calls for a more in-depth investigation of the Chinese discourse and the UDHR, and a broadened scope of different types and levels of education.
Chang Liu, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
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