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Right to Education: “Tunisia must not miss its rendezvous with history” – UN expert

TUNIS / GENEVA (9 May 2012) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, today urged* the Tunisian Government to keep the country’s rendezvous with history by placing human rights and the right to education at the heart of the historic reforms taking place in Tunisia.

“Tunisia is at a turning point in its history,” Mr. Singh stressed at the end of his first fact-finding mission to the country. “If it fails to secure in its new Constitution and its new laws the highest standards of protection of human rights, particularly the right to education, Tunisia will miss a historic opportunity.”

“It is now for the Government to preserve the gains and arm themselves to face the challenges of the future,” he added.

In a statement to the press, the UN independent human rights expert reminded the Government of its obligation to guarantee and protect academic freedom in a country where violence perpetrated by extremist religious groups has recently taken place in universities.

Mr. Singh drew the attention to the disparities between urban and rural areas with regard to access to education, and the urgency to respond to the challenge of sustainable quality in education. He also called on the authorities “to establish institutionalized links between the technical and vocational education and the workplace, in order to address the issue of unemployment of young graduates.”

The UN Special Rapporteur welcomed Tunisia’s progress in the field of education since its independence in 1956, noting in particular the country’s national laws on education and the level of access to primary education shown by remarkable school enrolment rates.

He also commended the important level of funding assigned to education, and was pleased to note that the majority of students in Tunisia are female, accounting for almost two thirds of students enrolled in secondary education.

During his ten-day mission, the Special Rapporteur met with the national authorities at the highest level, as well as development partners and civil society organizations. He also visited institutions of primary, secondary and higher education.

Mr. Singh will present his final conclusions and recommendations of this visit to a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council

(*) Check the full end-of-mission statement (in French): http://www.ohchr.org/FR/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=12129&LangID=F

ENDS

Kishore Singh is the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010. He is an Indian international law expert, 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 entities 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 for its better understanding as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Tunisia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/TNIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Tunis: Boris-Ephrem Tchoumavi (+41 79-444 5188/ sreducation@ohchr.org) or Akram Khalifa (+216 96 498 678 / akhalifa@ohchr.org)
In Geneva:  Khaled Hassine (+41 22 917 91 59 / khassine@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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