New report launched following deep concern expressed by UN body about closure of public schools and commercialisation of education in Mauritania
Nouakchott, 14th December 2018. Mauritanian civil society publicly launched yesterday the report on privatisation and commercialisation of education in Mauritania. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its final recommendations on Mauritania, expressed deep concern regarding ‘the recent closure with no apparent replacement of six public schools in Nouakchott, the high illiteracy rates, the limited availability of preschool education and primary schools, and the proliferation of private schools that make quality education prohibitively expensive for children living in disadvantaged or vulnerable situations’.
Mauritania allowed in 2016 the closure of six public schools in the centre of the capital city, Nouakchott. This led to the permanent de-schooling of an estimated thousands of children. The State was unable to provide clarity on why such actions were taken or any precautionary measures taken to avoid the loss of access to education for these children.
The CRC members also raised serious concerns about the insufficient monitoring of private and Koranic schools, as well as the poor quality of education in the public-school system.
A group of organisations formed by the association of women head of families (AFCF), the coalition of Mauritanian organisations for education (COMEDUC) and the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) had raised many of these issues, following a one-year research project on the effects of the growing commercialisation of education in Mauritania on human rights.
The research showed a dramatic growth of private education in Mauritania over the last 16 years with the number of students in private schools increasing eightfold over this period, without an adequate regulatory and monitoring framework. This has negatively affected the right to education by increasing inequality and discrimination, limiting access to free-quality education and the protection of education as a non-commercial right.
According to Sidi Boudide, the chair of the coalition of Mauritanian organisations for education (COMEDUC), it is not only the realisation of the right to education of children which is impended on, but also ‘the sale of the Mauritanian education heritage, with the closing, for the benefit of the government, of Nouakchott's historic schools having trained an entire generation of current government officials.’
The Committee recommended that Mauritania, among other things, ‘Develop a policy aimed at monitoring the quality of Koranic schools, particularly in terms of their structure, management and curriculums’ and ‘Reduce the discriminatory effects of privatization and private education against children from financially disadvantaged families and establish mechanisms to monitor the compliance of private schools with minimum educational standards, curriculum requirements and qualifications for teachers.’
Aminettou Mint Moctar, the President of the association of women head of families (AFCF), called on ‘all Mauritanians, all the diaspora, to support advocacy to denounce the commercialisation of education, as their countries cannot develop without quality education. They must show solidarity in denouncing the sale of schools, and demand that the content of school and education be improved. We therefore call for the mobilisation of the Mauritanian diaspora to demand a healthy education that respects the rule of law and meets the current needs of society and our development. Let us denounce hands in hand the commercialisation of education and the closure of public schools.’
Note: The Committee on the Rights of the Child is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Mauritania ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991. The Committee reviewed the implementation of the Convention by Mauritania on the 17th and 18th of October in Geneva, as part of a periodic review process.
- Aminettou Mint Moctar, Association of women head of families (AFCF), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sidi Boudide, Coalition of Mauritanian organisations for education (COMEDUC), +222 46 71 96 29, email@example.com
- Sylvain Aubry, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR), +254 7 88 28 96 34, + 33 7 81 70 81 96, firstname.lastname@example.org