Ei-iE

Haiti: United Nations report puts for-profit education on the side-lines

published 18 February 2016 updated 23 February 2016

The latest report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Haiti underlines the importance of free quality education and warns of the perilous effects of unregulated public-private partnerships.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, has shown great concern over the access and quality of education in Haiti through the publication of its latest report on the country.

Discrimination, privatisation and commercialisation hamper access

The text highlights two major areas for improvement, both related to access to quality education. The first one concerns the great disparities in access between girls and boys and in particular between rural and urban areas. It highlights the discrimination suffered especially by pregnant girls, young mothers and rape victims, which are frequently forced to drop out of school.

Secondly, the report warns that “the education sector is dominated by private schools”, which are often not officially authorised and monitored by the authorities. It goes on to remind the State of Haiti of its primary responsibility in guaranteeing and regulating education, and in providing free access to primary education, especially for children in vulnerable situations.

Ground-breaking recommendations

Besides urging policy makers in Haiti to increase the budget allocated to education and ensuring fair working conditions for teachers, it recommends the establishment of a regulatory framework in order to monitor private education providers. The recommendation explicitly states that private providers should not engage in for-profit education.

This represents reveals a shift in the analysis of the Committee as regards structural discrimination – a term that it had only previously employed in a report on Brazil. It is also striking that the Committee addresses for the first time the issues of public-private partnerships, clearly stating that they should not stand in the way of access to quality education for all children, that they should not serve private interests nor entail any form of commercialisation of education.

The recommendations echo with Education International (EI)’s Resolution on advocacy for a legal framework on working conditions in the non-public education sector in Haiti, adopted during its last World Congress in July 2015 in Ottawa, Canada, and with the resolution on the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education