Oral statement for the 2019 Social Forum

Yesterday took place the first day of the 2019 Social Forum. This forum took place on the 30th Anniversary year of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and at a time that youth has become a priority for the United Nations. OIDEL not just followed the Forum, but we are going to co-sponsor a side-event and also we have done an oral statement during the panel «Reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education».

Below you can find our Oral Statement recalling the freedom and the cultural approach of the right to education and its importance to enhance the rights of those left behind:

The title of this panel is reaching those being left behind and defending the right to education. I want to thank all the panellists for their magnificent presentations and I, as representative of OIDEL, would like to make a few commentaries.

No-one can deny the importance of the provision approach of the right to education to reach those left behind. An increase in the budgets to have better facilities, to prepare better professionals, to have access to better materials, and to ensure that all children have access to education is crucial. Nevertheless, focusing only on the provision approach of this right would be too narrow. We are focusing here on the rights of the children, and children are not numbers. They are human beings rooted in a culture, living in a community, cohabiting with a family with a particular language and with their own convictions. It is not enough to provide a good public educational system for all. Education shall be directed to the “to the full development of the human personality (art. 13.1 ICESCR, art.26.2 UDHR)” and to ensure this human rights approach it is important that this education fully respect the cultural identity of these children as it is stated in the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity.

The world in which we live is becoming more plural and it is rapidly changing. It is becoming more and more difficult to a unique school model to acknowledge the pluralism of the world, and at the same time meet the rapidly changing needs and circumstances of this world. We have to start thinking seriously if the vertical model state school – citizen is what is in the best interest of the child, especially those in disadvantage situations. Even, the UNESCO document “Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?” evokes the need to think of a paradigm that overcomes the notion of education as a public good. On this regard and specially in a context of privatization, as the former two special rapporteurs have said to guarantee the right to education we have to start thinking the role of the state not as the only education provider, but as the guarantor and regulator(par. 54) (SINGH, 2014)(BOLLY, 2017, par.59). We consider that two pillars are important on this context. First, focus on the importance of human rights education in order to strengthen the unity among citizens in a plural world. Second, governments not only should they be ensuring a high quality public education, but also supporting and enabling the existence of compulsory education in non-governmental schools of whatever legitimate pedagogical option to satisfy the human right to education.

On this context, we have to acknowledge a new threat. The progressive loss of the human rights perspective in the educational landscape due to new commercialisation approaches. It is clear that the entrance of for-profit actors can suppose a threat at multiple levels, including the final goal of education. On this regard, the state has to play the role of guarantor we mentioned before. Nevertheless, on this context, it is important that we do not threat all the non-state actors similarly. It would not be fair to legally treat a faith-based school in an area of conflict, as an institution owned by an investment fund in a developing area. It would not be fair to treat an NGO or a civil society organisation focused on the provision of the right to education, as an institution whose main aim is to make profit. An unfair approach to this problem not only will leave actors that are part of the solution in demining situation, but also might affect the freedom and cultural approach of the right to education by limiting the freedom of parents and communities to choose the education that they want for their children.

You can see the whole panel in the following link.

Ignasi Grau

  • Nations Unis, Rapport de la Rapporteuse Spéciale sur le Droit à l’Education, K. BOLLY (2017) Rapport de la rapporteuse spécial : Le droit à l’éducation, A/72/496, disponible sur : https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N17/303/25/PDF/N1730325.pdf?OpenElement
  • UNESCO (2015) Repenser l’éducation? UNESCO, Paris
  • SINGH, K. (2014). Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, «Privatization and the right to education». Genève – New York: Assemblée générale – Nations Unis.




Debate in the Human Rights Council on privatization and the role of non-governamental schools

The Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education took place on July 26th and 27th during the 41th session of Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In this session, the Special Rapporteur’s report on the right to education and in particular on the increase of private actors’ s participation on the field of education had been discussed.

In this regard, we at OIDEL were concerned about the possible interpretation that states could face significant limitations in their relationship with schools in the private sector, in particular about the ways of funding non-governmental schools. These doubts were first communicated to the Special Rapporteur in private in order for the latter to clarify some points that could be problematic from a Human Rights perspective.

During the debate, the Special Rapporteur made a brief introduction remembering the state’s obligation to guarantee access to public, free and quality education for everyone. This aim is stated in goal number 4 of the 2030 Agenda.

Furthermore, Ms. Bally Barry showed her concerns about the increase of private actors in the field of education. In this sense, she insisted on the fact that states have to establish a framework to regulate the participation of these private actors. She also highlighted that her recommendations are inspired by the Abidjan Principles.

Even if states have to give priority to funding public education, the Special Rapporteur recalled that this obligation cannot imply the violation of the parent’s right to choose for their children other different schools from the ones offered by the state. The state has to respect this freedom and has to guarantee the right to create new non-governmental schools by civil society. The Special Rapporteur stressed the importance of this freedom in order to ensure protection of religious, philosophical and pedagogical beliefs of parents. 

After the introduction, delegations of different states intervened. Many of them thanked the Special Rapporteur for her work and they informed about the current situation of the right to education in their own countries. Also, many of them emphasized the use of public-private partnerships as a way of supporting education of children by the non-governmental institutions, in order to offer a better educational system overall.

Moreover, many delegations asked for examples of best practices on how states can form the most effective public-private partnerships while adhering to human rights principles.

After these interventions, NGO’s and members of the civil society had been given the floor. Director Ignasi Grau spoke for OIDEL and also on behalf of several other NGO’s.

In the oral statement, after thanking the Special Rapporteur for her work, OIDEL reclaimed some clarifications. In particular, OIDEL insisted on the importance of the role of non-governmental schools in order to achieve a pluralistic educational system and in order to protect the rights of minorities. Some elements of the report have to be clarified so they will not be misinterpreted as limiting the right to education and the freedom to choose. You can read the oral statement of OIDEL in this link.

The debate concluded with a summary statement of the special rapporteur. She acknowledged the important role of non-governmental and non-profit schools, especially in those places where the states do not have the resources to fulfil their obligations. In particular, Ms. Bolly Barry praised the strategies developed by countries such as France  (with institutions as “l’école sous contrat”) or Tunisia where public-private partnerships have been launched, contributing to offer higher quality education. 

It’s vitally important to underline the distinction made by the special rapporteur to close the debate. Ms. Bolly Barry clarified that, when she mentions private actors whose practices imply a threat to right to education, she exclusively refers to private mercantilists and the for-profit sector – not civil society’s schools, including religious schools. This way, the special rapporteur affirmed the importance of state support for civil society in the field of education in order to achieve the best posible realization of the right to education. 


Amelia Suárez Picazo





Oral statement during the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Yesterday in the UNOG during the 41st Human Rights Council there was held the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education. The aim of the report was to talk about the implementation of the right to education in the context of growth of private actors. OIDEL has participated in the debate with the aim to recall the important role of non-profit non-governamental actors in the realization of the right to education.

Here you have the oral statement we delivered:


On the behalf of 5 NGOs, we thank the Special Rapporteur for preparing her report on “The implementation of the right to education and Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context of growth of private actors in education”. We acknowledge the importance of considering the phenomenon of privatization from a human rights perspective.
First, we welcome the report’s emphasis on the obligations placed upon states to protect and promote freedom of education, which includes, inter alia, the prior right of parents to choose an institution for their child other than the one provided by public authorities, as stated in article 26.3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Second, we commend the Special Rapporteur for drawing attention to the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 throughout the report; in particular, Goal 17, which encourages public-private partnerships among other forms of funding in the field of education. Former Special Rapporteur Kishore Singh had spoken about the good practice of conciertos económicos in Spain in this regard (A/HRC/29/30). Further discussion on similar innovations that utilize such partnerships as a tool to overcome the challenges of privatization would be most welcome.
Moreover, we believe that a plural educational system must reflect diversity in order to ensure the cultural dimension of the right to education. However, the guarantee of this right depends on non-governmental schools and educators having access to public funding. Problematically, the report claims that the funding of non-governmental non-profit schools must be a time-bound measure. More still, the report has caused uncertainty regarding the obligation on states to fund non-governmental schools internationally by introducing a set of criteria for states to consider when making supportive financial commitments. It is suggested that the contributions should only be given to non-governmental entities where governmental options do not exist.
If such a view is to be taken, then the specific educational needs of minority religious and indigenous groups, who wish to pursue educational options within their specific cultural context, may be ignored. According to these criteria the State must prove that public-private partnerships is “the only effective option to advance the realization of the right to education” in order to fund private instructional educational institutions. We will appreciate clarification from the Special Rapporteur in order to secure support for non-profit educational actors, to prevent discrimination and to ensure that nobody is left behind in attaining the right to education for all.


Ignasi Grau



40ème Conseil des Droits de l’Homme : Discussion sur les droits des enfants handicapés

IMG_5970Lundi passé, l’OIDEL a participé à la Séance sur les droits de l’enfant. Ce débat fut inauguré par Ms. Bachelet, Haut-Commissaire des Droits de l’Homme. Les panelistes principaux sont Jorge Cardona (Membre du Comité des droits de l’Enfance), Catalina Devandas (Rapporteuse Spéciale pour les droits des personnes handicapées) et Dumitriţa Cropivnitchi (Avocat expert sur les droits de l’enfant). Ces interventions ont été suivies pour les interventions des Missions Permanentes et des ONGs.

Dans ce cadre, OIDEL a fait une déclaration orale rappelant l’importance de l’approche culturel du droit à l’éducation afin que les enfants handicapés qui n’appartiennent pas à la culture dominante ne souffrent pas d’une double discrimination. Voici notre déclaration orale :

» L’OIDEL remercie le Conseil de se consacrer à ce sujet tout en rappelant son travail pour les résolutions 7/29 et 37/20. En effet, l’éducation est un axe primordial dans la réalisation des droits humains, par leur reconnaissance et leur diffusion, et contribue fortement à la lutte contre la discrimination et pour l’égalité des chances, notamment par une éducation inclusive.

Une éducation qui ne suit pas une approche culturelle peut rendre les enfants handicapés et ne faisant pas partie de la culture dominante sujets à une double discrimination. Elle doit bénéficier à tous les enfants, y compris ceux qui ne font pas partie de la culture dominante du pays où ils habitent. La résolution 7/29 sur les droits de l’enfant les liste ; les enfants de communautés autochtones, les enfants migrants, réfugiés ou déplacés, les enfants appartenant à des minorités nationales, ethniques, religieuses ou linguistiques. Toutes ces catégories rendent l’enfant potentiellement victime de racisme, d’intolérance, de discrimination et de xénophobie, c’est pourquoi des mesures spéciales doivent être prises afin de lutter contre ces pratiques inacceptables, notamment dans les programmes éducatifs (RES/7/29). L’éducation inclusive doit être pensée selon une approche culturelle et ceci inclut l’existence d’écoles alternatives. Une vision holistique du droit à l’éducation est nécessaire afin que tous les enfants puissent en jouir.

Les droits de l’enfant font partie intégrante des mécanismes du Conseil. La Convention relative aux droits de l’enfant est le traité le plus ratifié au monde. Pourtant, la situation des enfants demeure critique. L’article 28 de la Convention garantit le droit à l’éducation sur la base de l’égalité des chances. En effet, accorder une éducation de qualité contribue à l’accès à d’autres droits. L’éducation de qualité est un outil essentiel pour l’apprentissage de la tolérance et du respect de son prochain. Il s’agit aussi d’apprendre aux enfants les erreurs du passé à ne pas répéter. Les enfants sont sujets de droit, mais ils sont aussi acteurs de ceux-c.»

Vous pouvez voir toute la journée ainsi que notre intervention ( 1h 17’) dans ce lien

The importance of the cultural approach for quality of education for indigenous people

The UN 2030 Agenda includes a Goal for Sustainable Development aimed at ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. This Goal encompasses several dimensions of the Right to Education and one of its targets, Gender Equality and Inclusion, explicitly refers to indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations who, despite significant progress, are still denied access to education.

As for Indigenous peoples, policies for inclusive and equitable quality education should not merely focus on educational performance indicators such as attendance and literacy but they should also include concerns about indigenous cultures, languages and traditions, as well as integrating approaches and principles associated with indigenous communities into policymaking and school reforms. In this way, education would enhance Indigenous students’ personal and professional development and foster their integration into schools and societies, with due regard to their worldviews and cultural identity.

One of the key notions to achieve this is well-being, a multi-layered condition that encompasses several dimensions (cognitive, psychological, physical and social inter alia). The attainment of integral well-being stems from a holistic approach that considers the human being as a whole. This is why it figured among the guiding principles of a collaborative project that Alberta Education started with OECD in 2015 to improve learning outcomes for Indigenous students. The study involved schools from Canada, New Zealand and Australia and the results are illustrated in the OECD report Promising Practices in Supporting Success for Indigenous Students. In Canada, Indigenous students can choose between on reserve and off reserve schools, with the latter being either private or public. Off reserve private schools can be fully funded, partially funded or receive no public funding at all, depending on the jurisdiction, while public funding for on reserve schools comes from the Federal Government. In Australia, the Government has special responsibilities as for Indigenous students’ and migrants’ education, whereas in New Zealand the largest share of management responsibilities is entrusted to schools.

Although there are no dramatic differences between the well-being of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, the results of the study still give rise to concerns. Data show that Indigenous students generally present lower levels of confidence, weaker cultural identity and worse self-esteem. This may lead to decreased motivation, earlier school leave, worse school performance and, on the long term, exacerbated socio-economic inequalities. Tackling this problem is possible by understanding indigenous culture, language and identity as integral components of students’ well-being and by including the latter in educational policies. One of the best ways to increase Indigenous students’ well-being, and thereby school performance, is to promote their engagement. Feeling safe, well liked, integrated, and happy at school is the sine qua non for personal and educational development. To achieve this, it is crucial to incorporate indigenous values and approaches within the framework of each school.

The study aimed at identifying promising strategies to ensure better learning outcomes for Indigenous students. Some successful policies include increasing the visibility of indigenous cultures in schools, e.g. by decorating classrooms with indigenous symbols or by adopting indigenous cultural practises, as a school in Alberta did, where eagle-feather rituals were included in students’ graduation ceremonies. Moreover, it is desirable to increase the visibility of Indigenous people who play leadership roles within school and to actively involve Indigenous families and communities. As far as learning materials are concerned, one strategy is to include indigenous history, science and philosophy in the curricula and to use books and other resources developed by Indigenous people. Given the difficulties faced by many Indigenous students, some schools decided to provide a room dedicated for them, a “safe space” where to support and assistance, yet making sure that this does not evolve into a form of segregation. Providing learning opportunities in Indigenous languages turned out to be beneficial too, especially during the first years of education, when the student might feel the most vulnerable and alienated.

OECD report Doing Better for Children (2009) warns against deficit thinking in relation to education, namely the idea that Indigenous students lack of fundamental skills and assume that the main target is to rectify their shortcomings. A focus on disparities and deficiencies is surely necessary; however teaching should also build on those strengths and resources that children have already acquired in their everyday life. In this respect, the study highlighted that Indigenous students in Canada are more likely to be assessed with learning difficulties than non-Indigenous students. If provided with targeted support, the results can be stunning, while if they face lower expectations, their performance is seriously compromised.

Despite their heterogeneity, Indigenous students all face similar difficulties. I order to fulfil their right to education, it is essential to identify common challenges and build policies on resources that they all share, providing them with promising learning opportunities and better chances for the future. Societies must acknowledge the value that Indigenous communities represent in terms of pluralism and reciprocal cultural enrichment; similarly, educational systems should bear in mind that Indigenous peoples often have their own aspirations and definitions of success, thus the role of schools should be to provide children with the opportunity to realise their own ambitions and dreams, in accordance with their identity and their socio-cultural background.


Cecilia Litta Modignani

L’Observatoire International sur les Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels ObIDESC

Ce premier rapport sur la situation des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels de 42 pays est une initiative de L’Observatoire International sur les Droits Economiques, Sociaux et Culturels (ObIDESC) créée par le Collège Universitaire Henry Dunant et avec la collaboration de l’OIDEL. Ce rapport a pour objectif de contribuer à l’effectivité des droits économiques sociaux et culturels.

Depuis 2016 la collaboration avec un groupe d’experts a permis de mettre en place cet observatoire qui, pour le moment, se focalise à deux droits: le droit à l’éducation et le droit à la santé.

Nous présentons une brève analyse de chaque pays en trois parties:

1) Législation et politiques, 2) Jurisprudence des Cours constitutionnelles 3) Débats publics.

Une fiche a été créée pour chaque pays autour trois domaines pour les droits à l’éducation et le droit à la santé :

  • les législations et politiques publiques.
  • les décisions de justice de dernier ressort.
  • le suivi des discussions dans le débat public.

Le classement de ce rapport a été fait par regroupement de pays au sein des grandes régions du monde : Les Amériques, soit l’Amérique du Sud et l’Amérique du Nord, l’Europe, l’Asie et l’Afrique.

Nous avons mentionné 140 lois au total dans les domaines de l’éducation et de la santé, ces lois ont été organisées en trois catégories selon leur contenu. Ce classement rend compte d’une protection globale, ciblée ou d’une protection qui s’accompagne d’un changement de la Constitution d’un Etat.

  • La première catégorie comprend les législations qualifiées de générales, c’est-à-dire une loi qui pose une protection générale du droit à l’éducation ou du droit à la santé. (Exemple : la loi du 20 mai 2016 relative à la santé de la reproduction humaine).
  • La deuxième catégorie comprend la législation qualifiée de spéciale, c’est à dire une loi qui traite des aspects spécifiques de la protection. (Exemple : loi portant sur le régime de biosécurité en Côte-d’Ivoire).
  • Enfin, la troisième catégorie englobe les lois qui modifient la Constitution d’un Etat.

Les résultats d’analyses sur l’éducation concernent 60 législations au total, dont la majorité sont des lois qualifiées de spéciales, ce qui veut dire que les pays ont tendance à légiférer sur des aspects spéciaux des droits à l’éducation. Seules 4 lois générales et 2 constitutionnelles ont été trouvées et analysées.

Seulement un tiers des pays étudiés n’ont en 2016 pas des nouvelles de législations dans le domaine de l’éducation, ce qui représente 14 pays sur 42 pays.

Concernant les politiques publiques de l’éducation, 29 politiques publiques et plans nationaux ont été trouvés, dont 9 généraux et 20 spéciaux.

Les pays ont encore une fois eu tendance à agir de manière spécifique dans l’ensemble.

28 pays, soit plus de la moitié des pays analysés, n’ont pas élaboré de politiques publiques spécialement dans le domaine de l’éducation en 2016.

Le nombre élevé de politiques publiques est dû aux résultats de la région Afrique qui en comptabilise à elle seule 19 (sur les 29). Les politiques publiques sont les plus nombreuses dans les pays qui n’ont pas ou peu légiférer, comme par exemple la Côte d’Ivoire et la RDC.

Seule exception, la région d’Asie ne comptabilise aucune politique publique/plans nationaux et peu de législation (il convient de noter que seuls trois pays forment cette région).

Concernant la santé, 80 législations ont été trouvés en 2016. Comme pour le domaine de l’éducation, des lois spécifiques prédominent environ 90% soit 70/80: les pays sont donc protégés de manière accrue des aspects spécifiques du droit à la santé.

Un grand nombre de législations se répartit entre les régions d’Amérique du Sud (34 législations), la région d’Afrique (21) et la région Europe (17).

9 Etats sur 42 n’ont pas élaboré de législations dans le domaine de la santé : ces pays se trouvent en majorité tous dans la région Afrique.

La majorité des politiques publiques ont été retrouvées dans la région Afrique soit 18. Plus de la moitié des Etats, soit 26, n’ont pris aucune politique publique en 2016 dans le domaine de la santé.

Les résultats pour la jurisprudence montrent que pour l’éducation, un total de 24 décisions a été compté. En prenant note que 25 pays n’ont pas prise de décisions et que la région d’Amérique latine regroupe environ 65% de toutes les 15 décisions trouvées.

Concernant la jurisprudence pour la santé, un total de 31 décisions ont été comptées. Il n’y a pas eu des décisions concernant l’éducation, à l’exception de 20 pays. Pour les régions d’Amérique du Sud et d’Europe respectivement 16 et 10 décisions que se démarquent de très loin des autres régions qui ont pris au maximum deux décisions dans le domaine de la santé.

Les débats publics n’ont pas été classés entre eux car les problématiques d’un pays ne sont pas strictement identiques à d’autres pays. Cependant, des similarités ont été constatées par région géographique.

Concernant l’éducation, les problèmes liés au système éducatif tel que le manque de financement, le contenu des programmes scolaires, les actions du Gouvernement  et des discussions sur des thèmes spécifiques comme par exemple les chiffres des enfants qui quittent prématurément l’école ont été abordés de façons différentes dans les pays. Les évènements majeurs relevés sont l’organisation de réunions internationales dans plusieurs pays et des forums sur l’éducation au niveau national.

Concernant  la santé, les débats se sont concentrés autour des problèmes liés à la structure du système de santé tels que le prix des médicaments ou l’accès aux soins de santé, des projets de réforme et des questions spécifiques telles que l’encadrement de la consommation d’alcool. Les actions réalisées dans le domaine de la santé ont été portées sur la sensibilisation de la population ou en réaction à des propagations de virus. Dans l’optique de sensibilisation ou de protection de la population, des séminaires, conférence ou ateliers ont été organisés.


Eloise Christophi