After a three-year participatory consultation and drafting process, the Abidjan Principles were adopted in Côte d’Ivoire on February 12-13, 2019. The landmark principles, which have been cited by the United Nations Human Rights Council, are an urgent call for States to prioritize public education and regulate private actors in education delivery.
The necessity for the Abidjan Principles arose in an environment of increased influence from private actors, which were finding footholds in areas with limited quality education opportunities. The 97 guiding principles are designed to support States in the ethical and responsible advancement of free public education of the highest quality. These principles highlight States’ obligation to:
- Provide free, public education of the highest attainable quality
- Regulate private involvement
- Fund quality public education.
The Abidjan Principles have taken on a new level of importance during the COVID-19 pandemic. As school systems around the world struggle to reopen and in a safe and timely manner and to provide equitable remote learning options, many wealthy families are pulling their children from public schools and placing them into costly private institutions. This alarming trend could lead directly to widening disparities along socioeconomic and racial lines in many parts of the world. In this light, the Abidjan Principles is a strong reminder of how public education systems must be built for more resilience so that all children have equal learning opportunities.
Two years after 57 recognized experts, a majority of them from the Global South, advised on and signed the text, many of these experts are convening digitally to commemorate the anniversary and remind stakeholders about the Principles’ importance. The anniversary celebration will occur at 9:00 a.m. EST on Friday, February 12, 2021.
In the lead up to the anniversary, several brief educational videos on the Abidjan Principles have been created for the uninitiated, which can be found on the homepage (scroll down to view four introductory videos): https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/