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Education: “Decreasing support to education will jeopardize advances in the Millennium Goals,” warns UN expert

GENEVA (23 September 2010) – GENEVA – The new UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, warned yesterday of a decline on government domestic expenditure and international aid for education after the recent economic crisis threatens “the impressive progress in access to basic schooling since the turn of the millennium. Progress which still leaves 69 million children unacceptably out of school.”

“Reduced financial support to education will have very serious effects in the poorest countries. This not only jeopardizes the achievement of the goal of universal primary education, but may result in denial of the human right to education”, Mr. Singh said after taking part in a high level discussion on the central role of education for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) during the UN Millennium Summit in New York. “Governments need to ensure additional support for education. Promoting education must be a central concern for all Government agencies involved in social development”.

“Investing in education is investing in all MDGs”, Mr. Singh stated. “Evidence from around the world confirms that there is a clear relation between education levels and income, health status, longevity, etc. Thus, reducing educational inequality helps to reduce socio-economic inequality.”

“The MDGs are important commitments, but we must look beyond the goals. Expanding school enrolment is not sufficient if the quality of education remains poor and if children and adults do not have further educational opportunities beyond primary level,” warned the rapporteur.

Mr. Singh praised countries that have improved national legislation in line with international human rights standards: “Many countries have developed national legislation that provides for nine years and in some cases, even twelve years of compulsory basic education. This goes beyond the target of universal primary education in ensuring more years of schooling and paving the way for more sustainable progress through the empowering role of education.”

In his view, additional resources must be provided to essential tasks such as teacher training and recruitment, “without them, the push for enrolment could even have detrimental effects: increased class size impact on quality, completion, and student learning.”

Learn more about the Special Rapporteur’s mandate: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/education/rapporteur/index.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Marcello Daher (Tel: +41 22 917 9431 / email: mdaher@ohchr.org) or write to sreducation@ohchr.org.