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Government responsibility for equity and quality in education must be our first concern – UN expert

INCHEON, KOREA (21 May 2015) – “Governments’ responsibility for ensuring inclusive, quality education is the cornerstone of the post-2015 education agenda,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, at the World Education Forum 2015, a gathering of over 130 world leaders seeking to set a roadmap for global education to 2030.

“Guided by principles of social justice, education strategies must address inequality by focusing on girls and women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and children living in conflict-affected areas, rural areas and urban slums, and to do more to promote gender equality,” Mr. Singh said, echoing the UN Secretary General’s call to promote equity in education.

“It is the weakest among us who need education the most, and we cannot stand by as they are being excluded,” the human rights expert urged. “The upcoming Framework for Action must take a rights’ based approach, with strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms, to ensure that everyone is able to realize their right to education.”

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the rise of for-profit, privatized education, and urged governments to strongly resist pressure to reach their education goals through the private sector.

“Governments must safeguard education as a public good, and urgently end the commercialization of education,” he added. “Disparities and inequalities in society must be reduced, not encouraged. Building an inclusive education system requires governments to strengthen public education, as is their obligation under international human rights law.”

“I am very encouraged that the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development set a goal of ensuring by 2030 that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education,” Mr. Singh said. “Free education means that no child should have to pay for their education, and for-profit schools, including low-fee private schools, should have no place in our vision for the future.”

“I call upon governments to fully fund, and fully implement their human rights obligations and bring free, public education for all. Free basic education is the cornerstone of the right to education and must not be undermined through privatisation,” the Special Rapporteur said.

At the end of three days of discussion, the World Education Forum adopted the Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action by consensus, setting the post-2015 education agenda along with the education goals proposed by the Open Group on Sustainable Development.

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

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

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