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First visit to Mongolia of UN Expert on the right to education

GENEVA (29 September 2009) - The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Mr. Vernor Muñoz, will visit Mongolia from 1 to 8 October at the invitation of the Government, the first mission to the country by a UN independent expert monitoring the right to education.

"I am extremely interested on observing closely how nomadic communities, which constitute a significant percentage of the population, get access to education and assess its quality," said Mr. Muñoz announcing his visit to Mongolia, where up to 40% of its 2.7 million inhabitants live in rural areas.

"Mongolia has placed great value in education with policies that encourage children from both urban and rural areas to complete primary and secondary education, and this could constitute an example of a best practice" added the Special Rapporteur.

Mr. Muñoz will visit kindergartens, primary and secondary schools as well as public universities. He will focus on issues related not only to access to education, but also to the quality of education, in particular for girls and boys from rural and nomadic communities and economically and socially disadvantaged groups.

The Special Rapporteur will meet with Government officials and with civil society representatives, including non-governmental organizations. He will also have discussions with education professionals, academics, students and trade unions.

During his mission, Mr. Muñoz will visit the capital city Ulaanbaatar including one of its remote district Nalaih as well as Jargalant and Myangad soums of Khovd province in the western region.

Based on the information collected during the visit, the Special Rapporteur will prepare a report on his mission to the Human Rights Council in 2010.

A press conference will be held on Thursday 8 October 2009 at 15.00 at the U.N. House in Ulaanbaatar.

Mr. Muñoz (Costa Rica), who was appointed Special Rapporteur in August 2004 by the UN Commission on Human Rights, is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. The Commission first decided to appoint a Special Rapporteur to examine questions relevant to the right to education in 1998. The mandate was renewed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2008 for an additional three-year period.

Mr. Muñoz is currently Director of the Department of Education's Human Rights Ombudsman of Costa Rica and Researcher of the Institute of Latin-American Studies at the National University of Costa Rica. He has been Professor of Human Rights, Philosophy of Law and Civil Law in public and private universities in his country, as well as visiting professor at various universities in the world.