How UNESCO staff defend the right to education on the ground – part II

05 November 2018

UNESCO staff member Ms Morohashi with children in Haiti. © UNESCO

In the second part of our testimony series of UNESCO’s #RightToEducation campaign, meet the Organization’s staff as they share their experiences from around the world on the successes and challenges in making the right to quality education a reality for everyone.  

Ms Jun Morohashi, Head of Executive Office & Regional Programme Coordinator, UNESCO Bangkok & Ms Geneviève Dallemand-Pierre, Education Programme Officer, UNESCO Port-au-Prince

“UNESCO conducted a study in 2015 on the status of the right to quality education in Haiti in close cooperation with the Haitian National Ministry of Education and OHCHR.

In Haiti, the right to quality education has been the basis of the country education policies and practices. Despite continuous challenges caused by a series of recent natural disasters, the authorities have made great efforts to improve the quality of education through the review of teacher policy, learning environment for students for safety, health and nutrition, reinforcing mother-tongue education etc.

UNESCO has always been supporting these efforts of the country. We also came to learn about very encouraging initiatives taken by individual teachers and educators to best support vulnerable children and youth. However, there are still many challenges in guaranteeing the right to quality education for all learners. Fees related to enrolment, canteen and transportation are part of the obstacles that are holding back children from attending schools in many poor communities. Early pregnancies are also part of the obstacles that are holding back girls from attending schools. The high number of dropouts and the low levels of actual accomplishments remain the critical concerns.

Quality of teacher, including their working conditions, is another major issue. A new teacher training policy is expected to start soon. There are already good policies in place but the implementation process requires more concentrated efforts and also to mind the gaps amongst provinces, which would lead to further consolidate the governance of the education sector throughout the country. The international development partners are trying, through the education sector group, to harmonize our interventions to better support the Ministry of Education.

UNESCO, together with UNICEF, works as a counterpart of the government in the education sector and our standard setting mandate is well respected and definitely contributes to the country’s endeavors for making the right to quality education of all a reality.”

Mr Paolo Fontani, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels

UNESCO staff member Mr Fontani celebrating UN Day with students at a high school in Brussels, October 2018. © UNESCO

“Ensuring the right and access to quality education is at the core of what UNESCO does on the ground, and the way we tackle it varies in different parts of the world. Our aim is to strengthen the capacity of national and local governments to provide quality education for all.

In Afghanistan, with the Ministry of Education and the support of local communities, we have provided literacy classes to more than a million people living in difficult circumstances through second chance education programmes. Over 70 % of the beneficiaries are women.

In Brazil, we have cooperated throughout the years with the Ministry of Education, and increasingly with states and municipalities, to improve the quality of education and educational attainment.

In the Caribbean, we have worked hand in hand with UNICEF and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to improve early childhood education policies in order to make them more inclusive and improve the quality of provision. Access to pre-school education where children can be stimulated through play or study remains a challenge in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities that need it most.

In general, one of the major obstacles in many places is still not being able to physically get to where education is provided in a safe and accessible manner. Wars and conflicts remain the main reasons for this.

Another issue is quality, especially when it comes to learning achievements in primary and secondary school. Children might be attending school, but actual learning is not happening because of the poor quality of education. This eventually becomes a problem when they enter the labour market and realize that they are not equipped with the necessary skills. If people are not able to access quality education that meets today’s standards, the process of learning and acquiring skills is seriously jeopardized.

Ensuring that quality education is being delivered to future generations is a big challenge and remains a priority.”

 

From 15 October to 18 December 2018, UNESCO is running a digital campaign on the #RightToEducation to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Join here.