On Wednesday March 12, in the afternoon session of the Human Rights Council, the interactive Dialogue was held with the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes.
The Special Rapporteur began his intervention by presenting his report on the visit that he made to Spain from January 14 to 25, and subsequently presented his thematic report on «education, language and the human rights of minorities» in which he stressed the importance of the linguistic dimension for a correct integration of minorities as well as recommended that a series of practical guidelines be drafted to provide concrete guidance on the content and implementation of minority human rights and the use of their languages in the field of education. He further recommended that the guidance document be made available in the six official languages of the United Nations.
Following the report presented by the Special Rapporteur, OIDEL wanted to highlight in its oral statement the importance of language in education as a mechanism for inclusion, and the importance that public authorities have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that all children enjoy a quality education on equal terms.
“Thank you Mr. President,
First of all, we would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for his exhaustive work, as well as the numerous country visits, communications, conferences and awareness in order to raise awareness of the human rights of minorities and increase their visibility.
Secondly, we agree that language is a pillar of the identity of many minorities. Moreover, language issues are sometimes among the main reasons for grievances, exclusion and discrimination in education that can lead to tensions between minorities and central authorities. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the use of minority languages by these groups is essential to ensure inclusion and trust, particularly for vulnerable segments of society, such as indigenous peoples and women.
Finally, we would like to mention the reference of the report of public and private education, highlighting that, as the report points, minorities have the right to establish and operate private schools and educational institutions that use their language to teach. Human beings have a right to education, and States must comply with this right by ensuring a quality and public education and guaranteeing to the different communities the establishment of alternative schools to those managed by the State. The main obligations of the states regarding the right to education are not about the preservation of a unique educational model, but rather of assuring the 4 A’s: Ensure that education is Available, Accessible, Acceptable and Adaptable. Public Authorities should have positive obligations in relation to non-governmental schools, to ensure that the equal respect of the enjoyment of the right to education for all children, regardless of whether they are part of a majority or a minority, and irrespective of income levels
In conclusion as the Special Rapporteur points, it is essential ensuring a pluralistic,inclusive and quality education for all, as indicated by the Sustainable Development Goal 4.