What is GELF?
The Global Education Law Forum or ‘GELF’ is a network of scholars and practitioners active in education law and policy. GELF is registered as a Foundation according to Dutch law with headquarters based in Amsterdam.
GELF aims at awareness raising, development of expertise and improvement of policy and advocacy in education law in all continents, with a particular focus on countries in transition. The GELF Board, Bureau, Scientific Committee and Advisory Council is composed of academics and practitioners from all continents.
Why does it exist?
Numbers of learners around the globe are steadily rising due to demographic reasons and the reduction of poverty. Providing all these learners with quality education is an enormous challenge. Many issues need to be addressed, ranging from teachers training and safe environment to adapting curricula and ensuring fair assessment. Learners need to be prepared for life as local and global citizens, with due respect for their diverse capacities and diverse cultures.
All this needs to be embedded in good governance, human dignity and effective policies. The right to education and rights in education are essential in dealing with student and school diversity, but expertise on these fundamental concepts is relatively rare and scattered. In 2015, a group of concerned individuals, active in education, research and public administration, decided to join their forces and provide a concerted helping hand to all those who want to formulate and implement sound education principles, policies, codes, rules and regulations.
The initiators have decided to set up the Global Education Law Forum (GELF) as a non-profit consortium with an aim to address these issues both from a practical and a scholarly perspective. GELF aims to contribute to the implementation of the adopted UN Sustainable Development Goal number 4: ‘Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’ and the UNESCO Education 2030 Framework for Action.
What is GELFs program?
- Awareness raising
GELF will help raising awareness locally, nationally and internationally in order to improve education law and policy. Our bi-annual flagship publication will be the World Education Law and Policy Assessment Report, based on a unique, international cooperation among researchers in education law and policy. The release of the Report will be accompanied by supplementary publications, a media campaign and dedicated presentations to specific audiences.
In addition, a new journal will be launched in 2018: The Global Journal for Education Law and Policy.
GELF will also offer an expert pool, workshop services and online training.
- Expertise development
GELF aims to assist setting up regional networks for the promotion of education law and policies in all world regions and support research project development, in particular as regards comparative and inter-disciplinary fields of study. The quality of the expertise development is fostered by communities of researchers, including career researchers, aiming at increased cooperation among scholars, students and practitioners worldwide. Such increased cooperation requires support of communication and networking between international, regional and national researchers in education law and policy.
- Policy improvement & advocacy
Policy improvement, including consultation on institutional development (national, regional, international) is assisted through cross-fertilization of knowledge- and ideas-sharing within the wider constituency of members working in the domains of education law and policy. GELF aims to help citizens, lawyers and diplomats in addressing breaches of internationally recognised and protected education rights. Policy improvement and advocacy is carried out in a direct interactive flow between scholars, policy makers and legal practitioners at all levels.
For more information see the GELF blueprint Work Programme.
Sample of GELF working methods to be applied in general
- Consultation and alignment with existing professional networks, awareness agencies and think tanks.
- Promotion and support for joint research at all levels.
- Global conferences and expert meetings, including regional and global workshops with researchers and policy makers and accompanying publications.
- International networks of representatives of stakeholders, incl. national policymakers and researchers.
- Regional officers and ambassadors to support organisations and individuals active in national and regional education law and policy associations.
- Helping individuals with the right contacts, moral and possibly financial support to follow up their policy improvement actions and publications.
- Sharing and matching of expertise questions with student groups of faculties around the world as topics to learn from and contribute to in their courses.
- Silent diplomacy in cases of breaches of law and assistance bringing cases to court.
- Student participation. e.g. traineeships whereby students do research and help to solve legal and policy issues (human rights clinic) or contribute to organisation and communication activities of GELF.
- Support for training courses, modules or full programs of study.
- Social media campaigns, publications, website and press conferences.
- Reviewing of legislation and (mediation for) drafting of legislation.
- Opinion papers, policy papers and recommendations for research, policy and awareness at global, regional and national level.
National autonomy in education policy in the context of international human rights regarding education
GELF sees education as a broad, multi-faceted, fundamental human right. Its full implementation is crucial for the development of the capacity to enjoy all other human rights, be they socio-economic, cultural (linguistic), political or developmental. Education law and policy needs to evolve in order to realise education of the highest quality adaptable to the interests of students and societies. While both the content of the national school curriculum and the structure of the national education system belong to the domain of national policy, policymakers around the world have to deal with many similar issues that are comparable.
We are inspired by the idea of comparative research in education focusing on good governance, human dignity and effective policies in education. Comparative thinking helps to lower the degree of heated debates regarding different issues of national education policy. When we compare these debates externally or internationally we can learn that choices can be made to reconcile the two most contested values in education policy: freedom of or in education and equal chances for all in education. Such reconciliation is necessary in all aspects of education policy, from funding and ensuring equal access to education to eliminating all forms of discrimination in education.