International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples
Tuesday 9 August 2016
Nearly ten years since the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous children and youth still lack full access to adequate, accessible and appropriate forms of education, warned a group of four UN experts on indigenous issues in a joint statement* made public today.
Speaking ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, on Tuesday 9 August, the experts called on governments to ensure discrimination-free and culturally-sensitive education systems for indigenous peoples, taking into account their languages and histories.
“States and indigenous peoples must work together to fulfil indigenous peoples’ right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions,” said Claire Charters, Chair of the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Alvaro Pop Ac, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Albert K. Barume, Chair of UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Education is empowerment, and critical to the realization of all of the rights contained in the Declaration and international human rights treaties,” Ms. Charters stressed. “Unfortunately, indigenous children and youth often do not have access to adequate, accessible and appropriate forms of education.”
Special Rapporteur Tauli-Corpuz drew attention to the situation of indigenous women and girls, and called on Governments to give special priority to ensure they have access to relevant education. She also cautioned that “the available data shows a consistent pattern of disparity between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in terms of educational access, retention and achievement in all regions of the world.”
“States must engage and work constructively with indigenous peoples to address barriers to education, including stigmatization of indigenous identity, discrimination in schools, language barriers between students and teachers and inadequate consideration given to education for indigenous students,” Mr. Pop Ac underscored. “Efforts should be made to ensure that indigenous peoples have access to education that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.”
Mr. Barume noted that education is key to addressing human rights violations, alleviating poverty and creating opportunities in economic, social and cultural spheres.
“Education is an indispensable means of realizing indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and their capacity and ability to pursue their own economic, social and cultural development,” he said. “The right to education also supports the commitments on the part of States to the Sustainable Development Goals with a view to leaving no one behind.”
The human rights experts urged governments “to work with indigenous peoples in a spirit of partnership to restore forms of education based on indigenous languages, beliefs, values and culture and increase efforts to address discrimination in education that has the effect of impeding indigenous peoples’ rights to education.”
“It is imperative that educational institutions are built on a human rights framework that is inclusive and respectful of indigenous peoples’ cultures, worldviews and languages,” they concluded.
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The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), is a human rights activist working on indigenous peoples’ rights. She is a member of the Kankana-ey, Igorot indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region in the Philippines. As a Special Rapporteur, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/SRIndigenousPeoples/Pages/SRIPeoplesIndex.aspx
The Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was established in 2007 by the Human Rights Council as a subsidiary body of the Council. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Mr. Albert K. Barume (Democratic Republic of Congo), Mr. Wilton Littlechild (Canada), Mr. Edtami Mansayagan (Philippines), Mr. Alexey Tsykarev (Russian Federation), and Ms. Erika Yamada (Brazil). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/EMRIP/Pages/EMRIPIndex.aspx
The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) is a high- level advisory body to the Economic and Social Council. It was established in 2000 to deal with indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. It is composed of 16 members. Learn more, log on to: http://www.un.org/indigenous/
The UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples was established in 1985 by the UN General Assembly and provides support to indigenous peoples’ representatives to participate in the sessions of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Human Rights Council and of treaty bodies. It is run by the Secretary-General and a Board of Trustees. The members of the Board are: Ms. Claire Charters (New Zealand), Ms. Myrna Cunningham (Nicaragua), Mr. Binota Dhamai (Bangladesh), Ms. Anne Nuorgam (Finland), and Mr. Legborsi Saro Pyagbara (Nigeria). Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/IPeoplesFund/Pages/IPeoplesFundIndex.aspx
See the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/Declaration.aspx
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