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Ecuador: “Education is not only a State responsibility, but also a social responsibility,” says UN expert

QUITO (17 September 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, today called* on the Government of Ecuador and all the Ecuadorian people to actively participate in the realization and protection of the right to education in the country.

“Education is a public good and the State should never renounce its obligation to preserve it as such,” Mr. Singh said at the end of his first mission to Ecuador. However, education is not only a State responsibility, but also a social responsibility.”

“The active participation of all sectors of civil society, including, in particular, teachers, students, their parents and communities is vital for the consolidation of a well-functioning national education system,” the human rights independent expert stressed.

The Special Rapporteur recognized great advances in Ecuadorian laws and policies in education. “The 2008 constitution and the more recent reform of education laws have opened a solid path for the realization of the right to education in Ecuador and the country is going through a process of historical reforms.”

For the UN expert, solid legal frameworks are essential not only to ensure adequate and sustained support to public education, but are also crucial to effectively monitor private education, preventing abusive practices and ensuring that the right to education is respected in all circumstances.

“Through new laws and policies the Government of Ecuador has asserted its leading role to ensure education for all free of charge and further underlined the importance of investing in education as a priority area,” Mr. Singh said. “These are remarkable steps that echo international human rights standards.”

Despite these advances, the Special Rapporteur noted that challenges such as poor infrastructure, low quality of education, and disparities in access to education persist. “Communities living in poverty, indigenous peoples and afro-Ecuadorians remain under served, and do not benefit from full education opportunities.”

In this context, the UN expert emphasized the central importance of establishing standards for monitoring and promoting quality in education. “Evaluating the performance of education staff, students and teachers is important to guide and refine public policies.”

“Teachers are indispensable for the provision of quality education, and must also assume their responsibility” Mr. Singh continued. “Given the shortage of qualified teachers, Government must further devise progressive teacher training schemes. The teaching profession must become more attractive and socially esteemed.”

The Special Rapporteur also welcomed the process of reform in higher education, with its focus on the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences.

During his eight-day visit to Ecuador, Mr. Singh met with President Rafael Correa, various ministers, and representatives of international organizations and NGOs. He also visited schools in Quito, Guayaquil and Cayambe.

As a result of this visit, the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented at the UN Human Rights Council in June 2013, providing recommendations on the enhancement of the Ecuadorian education system.

Kishore Singh (India), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010, is a professor specialized in international law, who has worked for many years with UNESCO for the promotion of the right to education, and advised a number of international, regional and national bodies on right to education issues. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh has supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to promote better understanding of this right as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.aspx

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement by the Special Rapporteur: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12560&LangID=E

OHCHR Country Page – Ecuador: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/ECIndex.aspx

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