Government responsibility for equity and quality in education must be our first concern – UN expert

INCHEON, KOREA (21 May 2015) – “Governments’ responsibility for ensuring inclusive, quality education is the cornerstone of the post-2015 education agenda,” said the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, at the World Education Forum 2015, a gathering of over 130 world leaders seeking to set a roadmap for global education to 2030.

“Guided by principles of social justice, education strategies must address inequality by focusing on girls and women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and children living in conflict-affected areas, rural areas and urban slums, and to do more to promote gender equality,” Mr. Singh said, echoing the UN Secretary General’s call to promote equity in education.

“It is the weakest among us who need education the most, and we cannot stand by as they are being excluded,” the human rights expert urged. “The upcoming Framework for Action must take a rights’ based approach, with strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms, to ensure that everyone is able to realize their right to education.”

The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the rise of for-profit, privatized education, and urged governments to strongly resist pressure to reach their education goals through the private sector.

“Governments must safeguard education as a public good, and urgently end the commercialization of education,” he added. “Disparities and inequalities in society must be reduced, not encouraged. Building an inclusive education system requires governments to strengthen public education, as is their obligation under international human rights law.”

“I am very encouraged that the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development set a goal of ensuring by 2030 that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education,” Mr. Singh said. “Free education means that no child should have to pay for their education, and for-profit schools, including low-fee private schools, should have no place in our vision for the future.”

“I call upon governments to fully fund, and fully implement their human rights obligations and bring free, public education for all. Free basic education is the cornerstone of the right to education and must not be undermined through privatisation,” the Special Rapporteur said.

At the end of three days of discussion, the World Education Forum adopted the Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action by consensus, setting the post-2015 education agenda along with the education goals proposed by the Open Group on Sustainable Development.