International law calls on states to provide quality education, including secondary education. According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, quality education requires “a focus on the quality of the learning environment, teaching and learning processes and materials, and learning outcomes.”  An 18-year-old man who fled the Gash-Barka area said in 2016, “Seven out of 20 Grade 9 teachers crossed the border. Three of them were my teachers. For two weeks, we had no teachers in these subjects.  One student told Human Rights Watch that he spent up to three weeks without a substitute teacher.  As a result, lessons and lectures are skipped and classes are merged or taught by teachers from other disciplines, contributing to already large classrooms. A military service teacher who transferred to a secondary school in Anseba region and fled in 2017 said: Conscripts, especially those doing military service, are often subjected to torture and other abusive forms of discipline.  Conscripts have no means of filing complaints. Many conscripts suffer from unsanitary living conditions and a meagre salary equivalent to only a few US dollars a month, which does not allow them to provide for their families` basic needs.  Every year, thousands of young people are forcibly transferred from their homes across the country to Sawa. Students spend a year in Sawa and follow a schedule that combines preparatory classes for secondary school with compulsory military training. While most students are over 18 when they move to 12.
Some are still children and are forcibly recruited in violation of international standards. In Sawa, students are under military command throughout their final year, including their academic years, and military officials subject students to ill-treatment and severe punishment for minor violations, military discipline, and forced labor, sometimes violating their basic rights and shortening students` study and rest periods. “They make us slaves, don`t educate us,” said one former student. Students spend their year in Sawa in boarding schools, separated from their families, and are not allowed to return home until they have completed their mandatory military training.  In Round 29, students who failed or received poor grades were not allowed to return home at all, but were sent directly to their military service.  According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), most of the more than forty thousand Eritreans who arrived in Ethiopia between 2016 and the end of 2017 were youth, with about half of those under IOM`s care between the ages of 18 and 24.  Section 4. The terms “military service” and “military training” referred to in Commonwealth Act Number One, as amended, mean “military service” and “training for military service” as defined in this document. The government also severely restricts the freedom of movement of the population in order to prevent the circumvention of national service. Eritreans are supposed to have ID cards that identify their status – as a student, for example – and they must obtain a “movement pass” to travel and navigate the country`s control system between major cities.
 Military commanders or civilian officials may grant or deny travel permits to conscripts who risk arrest if absent from their posts without authorization.  Conscripts are regularly and arbitrarily denied the annual leave of approximately one month that is technically permissible to them.  The Eritrean government, in its education development plans introduced in 2013, has recognized many problems that impede access to education. Yet nowhere do these plans, or donor support for the education system, mention or acknowledge the impact that national service and the use of Grade 12 as a recruitment channel have on student and teacher rights and on the chronic educational challenges that limit access to quality secondary education. Relying on conscripts also means relying on individuals who do not have basic pedagogical training. Military service teachers who have not gone through the College of Education – which is the case for most of them – receive only one week of basic education from College of Education staff before being deployed.  Secondary school teachers interviewed by Human Rights Watch who had been working in secondary education since 2015 had not received any additional training. Independent media and non-governmental organizations remain banned. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Eritrea is one of the worst countries in the world in terms of press freedom, with at least 11 journalists still kept away from the outside world.
 Eritrea remains closed to human rights organizations, including all UN special rapporteurs who have applied for visas.  Police or military authorities have also relied on ad hoc raids – Giffas in Tigrinya – particularly in cities, to identify Eritreans perceived or attempting to evade or flee military service.