#HRC41 – ARROW’s statement on the right to education

June 27, 2019 sanila 2

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on summary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education


Speaker: Sanila Gurung

Thank you Mr. President

It is my pleasure to speak on behalf  of Rutgers, Asian Pacific Resource & Research Centre  for Women  (ARROW), Choice  for  Youth  and  Sexuality,  Hivos,  dance4life,  Latin  American and Caribbean Women’s Health  Network  and International Planned Parenthood Africa Region. As members of the Right Here Right Now Consortium we agree with the Special  Rapporteur that still millions are denied the right to education and the worst  forms of discrimination still affect marginalised people and  communities. The  further  growth  of  private  actors in education threatens the  states obligation  vis-a-vis  right  to  education as well  as the  right  to  non- discrimination and  equality  more  broadly.  From Pakistan to India to Nepal, evidence shows that  privatisation of education exacerbates gender discrimination because in many  contexts, as  education becomes costly,  families  give  priority  to  their  sons’ education  over  their daughters’.123

Lack of access to education must be seen within the wider social context in which it deepens gender inequality, increases risk to  harmful  practices such child  and  early  marriages and gender-based violence, leads to inequality  in the workplace and within labour  markets as well as denial of political and civil rights, and marginalization. A renewed emphasis on quality free public  education as state obligation is thus needed to address structural barriers to women and  girls’, LGBTIQ and  other  marginalised youth’s access to education so it becomes a truly transformative measure to protect and fulfil their fundamental human rights.

Realities from  a wide  range of countries show that  due  to lack  of accountability, girls and LGBTIQ youth  face   additional  forms of  discrimination  in  the  context of  private  schools, including  increased risk to sexual harassment, abuse and  bullying in school premises with relative impunity for the perpetrator, discriminatory practices against pregnant girls, promotion of gender stereotyping, sexism and  homophobia in the  curricula.4 Whereas private  actors in education may still be publicly funded, their exemption from public regulations threatens other critical  elements of the  right  to  education and  SDG 4. Such  as the  extent to  which  global citizenship education and  education for sustainable development, including  gender equality and human rights and, comprehensive sexuality education are included in curricula. We think comprehensive sexuality education is vital to education for sustainable development.

Quality  Comprehensive Sexuality  Education is needed to  promote health  and  well-being, respect for human rights and gender equality.5 Besides, CSE is essential to girls participation in  education  and   preventing  school  dropout.  As  a  lack   of  information  on  sexual  and reproductive health and  rights often  leads to  teenage pregnancies or absenteeism during menstruation.

Recent  years  have shown a targeted and organised attack on CSE at all levels, propped by the persistence of myths  and misconceptions.6 CSE is one of the first elements in school curricula to be dropped, with all ensuing consequences. When privatisation of education is not regulated this  will be  even  more  the  case. Many  countries do  not  have  the  resources to  conduct supervision of regulations on CSE, especially of private schools.

Thank you Mr. President


1 ActionAid. The effects of privatisation on girls’ access to free, quality public education in Malawi, Mozambique, Liberia, Tanzania and Nepal(Rep.). (2017, September). Retrieved http://www.ungei.org/_The_effects_of_privatisation.pdf

2 Human Rights Watch (2018). Shall I feed my daughter, or educate her? Barriers to Girls’ Education in Pakistan. Retrieved from:  https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/11/12/shall-i-feed-my-daughter-or-educate-her/barriers- girls-education-pakistan

3 Delhi’s Economic Survey Points Out A Serious Sex Ratio Problem In Private Schools. (2018, March 20). Retrieved from https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2018/03/sex-ratio-in-delhi-private-schools/

4 “Privatisation and its impact on the right to education of women and girls”, written submission by ActionAidet al to CEDAW, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.campaignforeducation.org/docs/reports/GCE_Submission_Privatisation_CEDAW_2014.pdf

5 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) et al (2018), International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An Evidence-Informed Approach, Paris: UNESCO, http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ images/0026/002607/260770e.pdf.

6 Shameem, Naureen (2017), Rights at Risk: Observatory on the Universality of Rights Trends Report 2017, Toronto: the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), www.oursplatform.org/ wp- content/uploads/Rights-At-Risk-OURs-Trends-Report-2017. pdf, p. 65.

Tags: ,