The UN confirms that education is a "public good" and asks Morocco to explain itself about privatization in education
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Geneva, 5th September
Yesterday in Geneva the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) questioned Morocco about its policy of privatising education and appeared to regret the absence of a satisfactory response from the government. The Moroccan government was reviewed this week by the UN Committee of Experts which is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Morocco ratified in 1993.
The members of the CRC raised serious concerns about the impact of privatisation of Moroccan schools on children’s right to free, quality and accessible education, asking four questions on this topic. After the Moroccan delegation did not respond to the first question, two other members of the CRC asked additional questions on the topic voicing their concerns about issues such as the transfer of teachers from public to private schools, inequalities created by privatisation, and the education system that Morocco is promoting.
The Government delegation headed by the Minister for Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Ms Bassima Hakkaoui, responded that Morocco “promotes free competition among schools” and hopes to rapidly achieve “20% of pupils enrolled in private schools”. Given the response, which denied any issue with regards to private schools in Morocco, a CRC member felt compelled to ask another follow-up question on the subject.
The Committee reminded the Moroccan delegation that education is a public good guaranteed as such since the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also mentioned that the King of Morocco has recently added his voice to the increasing concerns about growing inequalities created by privatisation in education in Morocco, and asked the Moroccan delegation if there were at least two issues associated with privatisation they could identify. It is only then that that the representative from the human rights department of the government finally admitted that there was a problem and that the government was working to reform the education system.
“The answers given by the government to questions from the Committee on the Rights of the Child do not respond to the basic structural problems of discrimination in the education system in the country created by privatization in education”, reacted Sylvain Aubry, the researcher on the human right to education for the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR).
The GI-ESCR with its Moroccan partner has conducted a one-year research study on the effects of privatisation in Morocco, and has published three reports demonstrating the negative impacts of the government-backed privatisation in education on children’s right to education (see here).
Lucy McKernan, UN Liaison with the GI-ESCR, explained that “for 15 years, the government has encouraged the development of private education. But today, many Moroccans feel compelled to make sacrifices to send their children to expensive private schools, and this creates great inequality and divide in society between those who have access to the best expensive schools, and others who feel left behind”.
Bret Thiele, co-director of the GI-ESCR added “We hope that in its concluding observations the Committee on the Rights of the Child will remind Morocco of its obligation under international law to provide quality public education for all, in order to fight against inequality, rather than encourage private education, which is exacerbating geographic and socio-economic inequalities and societal segregation".
Following its review of Morocco, the CRC will publish at the end of September a set of recommendations on the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Morocco, called ‘concluding observations’. The GI-ESCR and its partners have indicated that they will closely monitor the implementation of these observations by the Moroccan government.