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Tunisia must act now to ensure right to education is met and fully funded, says UN expert

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GENEVA / TUNIS (15 April 2019) – Tunisia must take urgent steps to ensure that the right to education is met for all citizens, says a UN human rights expert.

“Tunisia’s democratic transition requires the development of education law based on the fundamental values of its society, with proper funding," said the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Koumbou Boly Barry, in a statement at the end of a fact-finding visit to the country.

"The financial resources must be sufficient and decentralised in order to realise the right to education. There must also be forums to discuss how best the right should be implemented, to aid social cohesion across the nation," she said.

"These forums for dialogue must exist at all levels. Stakeholders should engage in co-management and sincere cooperation to build trust between decision-makers and the educational community.”

She stressed that dialogue should include everyone with an interest in education – including civil society and those who are being educated, so that a draft law based on the achievements of the 2016 White Paper on educational reform could be proposed to reform the country’s education system.

The Special Rapporteur also noted a female illiteracy rate of around 52 percent in rural areas. She said the rate at which children dropped out of school could be related to the environment of illiteracy in which they lived.

"I recommend a special programme to accelerate women's literacy in connection with well-targeted vocational training for rural areas," she said.

The expert commended the Government for its efforts to implement the recommendations of an earlier report by the UN’s education expert, noting that six out of nine recommendations had been, or were being, implemented.

During her visit, the Special Rapporteur travelled to Tunis and Kairouan and met representatives of the Government and Parliament, as well as leaders of relevant educational institutions. She also held talks with representatives of civil society, development workers and unions in the education sector.


Ms Koumbou Boly Barry (Burkina Faso) took office as Special Rapporteur on the right to education on 1 August 2016 following her appointment at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council. She holds a PhD in Economic History from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. She is the former Minister of Education and Literacy of Burkina Faso and has consulted widely for various governments and international institutions on the right to education. Ms Boly Barry has been an advocate on gender issues in education. She also has ample knowledge and experience in training and research, is a visiting professor at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, University of Louvain La Neuve Belgium, and a lecturer at Ouagadougou University, Burkina Faso, Vitoria University, Brazil and Fribourg University, Switzerland.

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.

UN Human Rights, Country Page: Tunisia

For more information and media inquiries, please contact:

In Tunisia (During the visit):
Ms Teizu Guluma (+41 079 764 7374 / tguluma@ohchr.org)

Ms Samia Kamoun (+216 36 011 680 / skamoun@ohchr.org)

In Genève: Ms Mylène Bidault (+41 22 917 9935 / mbidault@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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