School closures and the loss of access to educational resources for children amid the COVID-19 and bushfire crises have highlighted how easily equity in education is undermined, says UNSW Associate Professor Caroline Lenette.

Associate Professor Lenette is editor-in-chief of Human Rights Defender magazine, which has launched a special edition looking at the future of the human right to a quality education.

The special edition is guest edited by UNSW Sydney’s Dr Sally Baker and features contributions on education and climate justice, education in situations of forced migration, and decolonising education with First Nations Peoples.

The new edition of the magazine was launched by the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW Sydney this week and celebrates the voices of young people and amplifies their public advocacy on these contemporary challenges.

Dr Baker opens the special issue by saying it was shaped by the unfolding bushfire environmental crisis, and Australians’ changing ideas about the future.

“We are, progressively, less able to make decisions based on a stable future, like many others around the world,” Dr Baker writes. “So what role should, can and does quality education play in this context?"

As the issue was sent to print and delivered online, the world confronted the coronavirus pandemic, presenting further challenges to our human rights, including the right to education.

Associate Professor Lenette says the issue’s spotlight on equity in education is even more relevant in the present emergency.

“This pandemic has amplified the existing disadvantages that many children and young people were already facing. As we experience collective uncertainty, we have to re-imagine what quality education means,” Associate Professor Lenette says.

Human Rights Defender is proudly produced by the Australian Human Rights Institute at UNSW Sydney, with an interdisciplinary team of editors, and students from UNSW Law. The magazine is free and available online at, by academic subscription through HeinOnline, InformIT and EBSCO.

Australian Human Rights Institute