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7 December 2006

6 December 2006

Vernor Muñoz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, has concluded a Mission to Morocco, which took place at the invitation of the Government, from 27 November to 5 December 2006.

The purpose of the Mission was to consider how Morocco endeavours to implement the right to education, the measures taken for its successful realization and the obstacles encountered both at the national and international levels.

During his visit the Special Rapporteur met with the Minister of Education and high level officials of the Ministry of Education, the Minister of Religious, Endowment and Islamic Affairs, high officials of the State Secretariat of the Childhood, Family and Disabled Persons; high officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance; as well as the Ombudsman, members of the Consultative Council for Human Rights and members of the National Observatory of the Rights of the Child as well as with representatives of the Regional Academies for Education and Training, in Casablanca, Marrakech and Rabat. The Special Rapporteur visited primary, secondary and high schools in urban as well as rural areas. In the context of his visits of schools, he had the opportunity to meet with teachers, parents associations and to discuss with the students themselves. The Special Rapporteur also met with United Nations Organizations, NGOs working in the field of human rights, human rights of women, the rights of the child as well as the rights of persons with disabilities. The Special Rapporteur also had the opportunity to meet with teachers’ trade unions as well as with scholars and members of the Royal Institute for the Amazigh culture. At the end of the visit, the Special Rapporteur was able to discuss his preliminary observations with the Minister of Education.

The Special Rapporteur acknowledged the very positive institutional and legislative measures taken by the Kingdom of Morocco with regard to the realization of the right to education and more generally to the protection of human rights. The Special Rapporteur noted with appreciation the recognition of the right to education in the Constitution, the ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the adoption of the National Charter for Education and Training, which besides setting the framework of the education system in Morocco, introduces human rights education in the curricula and recognizes human rights among the guiding principles of the education system together with Islamic values, and the concept of citizenship. The Special Rapporteur welcomed the recent establishment of the High Council on Education, a consultative body on education presided by His Majesty the King, which foresees the participation of students and teachers among other relevant actors, as well as the establishment of the National Observatory on the Rights of the Child, the Consultative Council of Human Rights and the Ombudsman. The Special Rapporteur commended the authorities for their efforts in ensuring positive progress in the generalization of primary education, in the combat of illiteracy and in the recognition and introduction of the Amazigh culture and language in the curricula as well as the establishment of the Royal Institute of the Amazigh culture.

Despite a wide range of positive steps in the realization of the right to education, the Special Rapporteur identified the implementation of public policies and strategies, particularly regarding education coverage and quality, as one of the major challenges for an effective and full realization of the right to education in the country. In his view, despite the increase in primary school enrolment, further efforts are needed to guarantee the continuation of the education of girls and boys alike at the primary level, which continue to register important drop-out rates as well as at secondary and high school levels particularly in rural areas. The Special Rapporteur believes that the lack of secondary and high schools infrastructure, the lack of canteens and boarding facilities coupled with a prevailing lack of sanitation, water and electricity supply in various rural areas have a direct negative impact in the realization of the right to education, especially of girls. The Special Rapporteur urged the authorities to strengthen their efforts to ensure the enrolment and continuation of their education of the estimated 600.000 street children. In that regard, he recommended the establishment of a data and information collection system on street children and working children, especially girls’ domestic workers. He believed such data would assist the authorities in the design and adoption of a comprehensive strategy and programmes to address the issue of child labour and help ensure the right to education of these children.
The Special Rapporteur considered, illiteracy rate as a major challenge for the country, despite literacy national programmes and measures so far undertaken, which in his view needed to improve the quality of their content.

The Special Rapporteur welcomed the introduction of human rights in the curricula and text books. However, he highlighted the importance of ensuring that human rights are not only a teaching theme but are also integrated in the education process as part of the school life. In that context, he called on the authorities to continue their actions against the use of the already prohibited corporal punishment at school.

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the apparent excessive promotion by the authorities of private education vis a vis public one. He identified some obstacles in the realization of the right to education of children with disabilities –boys and girls alike- in their school integration as well as in the teaching of the Amazigh language. The Special Rapporteur recommended that budgetary measures are taken to ensure the integration of girls and boys with all types of disabilities in the regular school system and the improvement of the training and knowledge of teachers regarding Amazigh language as well as human rights. He also recommended the expansion of the ombudsman’s capacities to be able to work ex-officio.

The Special Rapporteur will present a report on his mission to the Council on Human Rights at its forthcoming 2007 session (March 2007).

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to help States, and others, promote and protect the right to education. For further information on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur and copies of available reports, please consult the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. ( http://www.unhchr.ch/)