At what age?... are school-children employed, married or taken to court? Trends over time

States have an immediate obligation to provide compulsory primary education. While the majority of States have made progress in enacting laws that affirm this right, implementation varies and is often undermined by contradictory laws on the minimum age to leave school, enter into employment, get married and be criminally responsible. The Right to Education’s 2011 report highlights some of these contradictions. It analyzes the legal minimum ages across 187 countries, drawing on 18 years of reporting under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and raises questions about the cross-section of these issues and their effect on the right to education. The report reveals that: Only 60 out of 187 States set the minimum ages for entering employment and for completing compulsory education at the same level as each other; at least 74 countries have no absolute minimum age for marriage ; in 44 States girls can marry earlier than boys - before completing their compulsory education: in at least 142 countries children may be taken to court and risk imprisonment for criminal acts between 6 and 15 years old, which often overlaps with the age range for compulsory education.

Published 2012-03-15