This statement was submitted to the 47th Session of the Human Rights Council Interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education. Click here for a video of the statement.
I am Sai Racherla and I am making this statement on behalf of the Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW).
We thank the Special Rapporteur on the right to education for the report on the cultural dimensions of the right to education.
In March 2021, at the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) Youth Forum, a diverse group of 500 young activists and advocates in all their diversity from 34 Asia Pacific countries, in the age group of 13-34 years, came together to discuss youth at the forefront of the sustainable development agenda.
Young people at this forum made an unequivocal call to ensure the provision of accurate, evidence-based information and education, including comprehensive sexuality education for adolescents and young people in formal and non-formal education settings, as well as workplace settings. This education needs to recognise and cater to the evolving capacities of young people, and be scientifically evidence-based, context-specific, culturally-sensitive, gender-responsive, and disability-friendly.
The above recommendation from the young people in the Asia Pacific region is crucial to ensuring the universal right to inclusive and quality education without discrimination, exclusion and segregation, as called for in Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education. The right to education including comprehensive sexuality education should be inclusive of cultural diversity and intersectional identities of young people.
We concur with the special rapporteur on the right to education that to address cultural diversity, we must incorporate all forms of diversity, not just those that are historical, social or related to heritage, language, gender or disability, but also those resulting from particular routes taken in life (e.g., migration, displacement or flight from persecution) or from situations of poverty, extreme poverty, violence or extreme violence.
According to UNHCR, there are 9.2 million people of concern across Asia and the Pacific, including 4.4 million refugees and asylum-seekers, 3.3 million internally displaced people and 2.3 million stateless persons, children and young people included. We further reiterate that languages spoken by minority, migrant and refugee communities are incorporated into the formal and informal education systems in recognition of linguistic diversity, social and cultural milieu, and their right to education in host countries.
Lastly, we fully concur, with the special rapporteur, that no one should be able to use cultural diversity as a pretext for violating or limiting the scope of the human rights of young people to education including comprehensive sexuality education.