Universal Periodic Review of North Macedonia

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Republic of North Macedonia. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in North Macedonia’s education field.

  • The Balkan country of North Macedonia has made remarkable educational progress since gaining independence in 1991. Despite a decade of complicated development in the years following independence, due firstly to the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and Kosovo and then to tensions with Bulgaria and Greece over its own identity, North Macedonia has developed a more proactive policy over the past decade. The country is one of the founders of the Open Balkan Initiative, which aims to bring the countries of the southern Balkans closer together economically and culturally. The improvement in bilateral relations with Greece in 2018, with the Prespa agreements, has raised hopes of reducing regional tensions. This new climate is favourable for creating new initiatives to strengthen cooperation in culture and education. A few Erasmus programs are offered between North Macedonian and other European universities. University exchanges with neighbouring countries, including members of the Open Balkans initiative and the European Union, are the best way to reduce tensions in the Western Balkans by bringing young people together in dialogue.
  • The country’s literacy rate, although below the European Union average (98.7%), is ahead of other developed countries such as Greece (97.7%) and Singapore (96.8%). 2002, the literacy rate was 96%, compared with 98.1% in 2015. The female literacy rate rose from 90.93% in 1994 to 96.70% twenty years later in 2014. In addition to these results, public spending on education fell from 3. 30% in 2002 to 3.7% in 2016. Moreover, in general, the education budget in North Macedonia has systematically lost since it gained independence in 1991 (4.7% of GDP in 1992). Education is compulsory from the age of 6 up to 15, which is lower than in Western European countries, where schooling lasts, on average, until the age of 16 [i]. School dropout rates vary from one category of the population to another. North Macedonia is ethnically diverse: 26% Albanian, 3.41% Turkish-speaking and 2.53% Roma. The Roma are the primary school dropout victims despite forming only a small ethnic minority.
  • The North Macedonian curriculum is similar to that of OECD countries. Higher education and research and development have received little attention from the North Macedonian public authorities: the budget for higher education has fallen from 1.1% in 2010 to 0.8% in 2021. Higher education is neither free nor fully covered by the state. Students are eligible for grants based not on income but on academic performance. Students are categorised into “state-funded” or “self-funded” groups based on their prior academic performance. State-funded students, representing high-achieving individuals, contribute partially to their education costs and pay administrative fees. Special exemptions exist for disadvantaged groups like disabled individuals, unemployed youths, and security force families, and their number is capped. Self-funded students follow a fixed tuition fee model. Similar fees are applied to students in short-cycle higher education programs. So, even if this system is meritocratic in principle, it excludes students whose families do not have the means to pay for private tuition or don’t attach much importance to reading or culture. [ii]

By Camille Boblet-Ledoyen

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[i] European Commission, “Republic of North Macedonia: Organisation of the education system and structure”, Eurydice Network, 9 June 2022.

[ii] OECD, “The education system in the Republic of North Macedonia”, OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: North Macedonia, June 2019.

[iii] UPR Database, “Recommendations received by North Macedonia”, Cycle 2 (2012 – 2016). 

[iv] Minority Rights, “Minorities and indigenous peoples in Macedonia: Roma”, October 2020.

[v] World Bank, “North Macedonia Needs to Continue Investing in Education and Health to Improve Its Human Capital”, Press release, September 16th, 2020.

[vi] Staletović, Branimir; Pollozhani, Lura, “To resist or not to resist: “Skopje 2014” and the politics of contention in North Macedonia”, East European Politics, November 2022.

[vii] Eurostat, “Enlargement countries – statistics on research and development”, May 2023.

[viii] European Parliament, “Artificial Intelligence: threats and opportunities”, June 2023.

[ix] Elena Kjosevska and Sanja Proseva, “Mental health in schools in Republic of North Macedonia”, SHE Assembly, June 3rd, 2021.

[x] UNICEF, “Exploring the interplay between wellbeing and academic attainment of children”, conference in Skopje, 9 March 2022.

[xi] Aldrup, Karen; Carstensen, Bastian; Klusmann, Uta, “Is Empathy the Key to Effective Teaching? A Systematic Review of Its Association with Teacher-Student Interactions and Student Outcomes”, Educational Psychology Review, March 2022.

Cover image by Nato North Atlantic Treaty Organization via flickr

Universal Periodic Review of Eritrea

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the State of Eritrea. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in Eritrea’s education field.

  • During the last decade, Eritrea presented a good evolution in its complex education system. The progress demonstrated in its previous comprehensive evaluation highlighted achievements and improvement areas. The 2012 educational reform, known as the “Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP 2012 – 2017),” made notable strides in equitable access to education, especially for socially disadvantaged groups like nomadic communities and those in rural areas. 
  • Since the end of the civil war 1993, the country has stabilised macro policy objectives for education, and the current National Education Sector Plan of 2018 – 2022 of the Ministry of Education reconfirmed the strategy policies. Focusing on three main areas or pillars for the education system: first, the “development of a population equipped with necessary skills, knowledge and culture for a self-reliant and modern economy”; second, the “development of self-consciousness and self-motivation in the population to fight disease, attendant causes of backwardness and ignorance”; and third “provision of basic education to all, regardless of their ethnic origin, sex and religion”[i].
  • Improvement in various metrics has been reported, such as a 6.6% increase in enrollments in pre-primary schools and an 8.5% rise in the number of such schools. The emphasis on mother-tongue instruction has been pivotal in primary education, with over 349,753 students enrolled nationwide. Eritrea’s educational policy emphasises universal primary education through the mother tongue, promoting language equality and benefiting 349,753 students, 45% of whom are girls. The advances have resulted in a 1.3% rise in rural schools and enhanced opportunities for girls and nomadic communities, with specialised workshops fostering strategy development for these segments.[ii]
  • Among Eritrea’s concerns is enhancing efforts to guarantee girls’ rights to education and provide them with a higher level of education. Expenditure on education has fluctuated over the years, representing 4% of the country’s GDP, underlining the government’s commitment to providing free education at all levels[iii].
  • Concerning gender equality in educational institutions, Eritrea has disclosed a coefficient of 0.91 for gender parity in pre-primary schools, with 1 representing absolute parity. For elementary, middle, and secondary schools, the figures are 0.82, 0.85, and 0.91, respectively, highlighting a pressing need to intensify efforts to secure and enhance girls’ educational rights and access to more advanced academic levels. Nonetheless, challenges remain in gender parity and the quality of education[iv].
  • Eritrea has also made strides in literacy and adult education, realising a 20% decrease in illiteracy facilitated by continual workshops and programs promoting literacy. Based on the data from 2016, the program witnessed participation from over 17 million adults, with a successful 75% completion rate[v].
  • Eritrea recorded enrollments exceeding 81,000 students in secondary education in the 2017-2018 academic year. Within this educational level, three crucial goals have been established: to optimise university entrance opportunities, to foster social cohesion amongst new generations, and to construct a competitive environment conducive to high academic achievement and merit competition. Despite the efforts to increase access to education and improve the opportunities and the quality of the system at all levels for the schools, the country reported in 2016 that over 220,000 children aged 5 to 13 years old remain out of schools, with the rage to 73% of pre-primary school and 27% from middle school[vi].
  • The Early Childhood Development Program enabled extensive reform that got advancements in fostering early intervention, leading to a 6.6% rise in enrollments in pre-primary schools, with the total number of such schools growing by 8.5%. This accounted for 47,196 students, with girls making up 48.7% of enrollees. The initiative also saw an increase in rural coverage from 64.2% to 65%, an 18.5% rise primarily attributed to the pivotal role of the Rural Community Care Givers Scheme. The national workshop on nomadic education has been instrumental in developing and applying strategies in these communities. Eritrea has also established progress for literacy and adult education, achieving a 20% reduction in illiteracy and ongoing workshops to drive the project’s progress[vii][viii].
  • Furthermore, regardless of the country’s advances and progress in education overall since the end of the civil war and the advances in the last decades, the country presents urgent issues on their policies that ensure equity of access to schooling all around the country. The challenges surround wide disparities in the level of participation among the different regions (Zobas) of the country, gender gaps, low level of involvement of children with disabilities, access to education for children that are part of nomadic tribes and for the ones who live geographic areas with difficult access[ix].

By Daniel Ordoñez

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[i]  Partnership, Golbal. 2018. “ERITREA EDUCATION SECTOR PLAN.” P. 25

[ii]  Assembly, UN General. 2018. “Universal Periodic Review​ – Third Cycle – Eritrea.” P. 11

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v]  Ibid.

[vi] Partnership, Golbal. 2018. “ERITREA EDUCATION SECTOR PLAN.” P. 14

[vii] Assembly, UN General. 2018. “Universal Periodic Review​ – Third Cycle – Eritrea.”  P. 11

[viii] Watch, Human Rights. 2019. “Eritrea: Conscription System’s Toll on Education.” https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/08/08/eritrea-conscription-systems-toll-education.

[ix] Mengesha, Tedros Sium, and Mussie T Tessema. 2019. “Eritrean Education System: A  Critical Analysis and Future Research Directions.” International Journal of Education 11 (1): 1–17. doi:10.5296/ije.v11i1.14471. P. 3

Cover image by aboodi vesakaran via Pexels

Universal Periodic Review of Cyprus

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Republic of Cyprus. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in Cyprus’ education field.

  • Cyprus has turned the island into a place renowned for conflicts due to the differences between the two central communities, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In 1974, a Greek coup against the President of the country and Turkey’s military invasion and partition of the island led to the forceful division and completed the physical separation of the two central communities. (i) This situation and especially the consequences of the Turkish invasion affected every sector, such as the economy, the society, and the education system. 
  • Nowadays, two education systems exist in the country. The structural organisation of Turkish schools is similar to the Greek one. However, there are a lot of differences. The Republic of Cyprus, as a member of the European Union since 2004, complies with European standards about education. Compulsory education lasts for ten years and four months, starting from the age of 4 years (pre-preliminary education) and extending to the age of 15 years (end of lower secondary education). Public education, namely preliminary, primary, and secondary education, is free for all from the age of 4 years to 18 years. However, there are many private institutions. Furthermore, public tertiary (non-university level) education is free. As for public higher education (undergraduate level), it is free for Cypriots and citizens from the European Union, as the government fully pays the fees. [i]
  • As for the northern part of Cyprus, Turkey controls it, and the educational system is similar to the Turkish one. Education is compulsory and free from age 5 to 17 years. Higher education includes all the institutions after secondary education. The system consists of 5 private universities and one semi-public state academy. [ii] Under these circumstances, both educational systems of Cyprus have been criticised for supporting the idea of the other as an enemy.

By Alexia Kapsabeli

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[i] Cyprus Eurydice European Union https://eurydice.eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-education-systems/cyprus/overview Last accessed 3 September 2023

[ii] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Turkiye “Study in North Cyprus” https://www.mfa.gov.tr/data/cyprus.pdf   Last accessed on 5 September 2023

Cover image by EUCyprus via Wikimedia Commons

Universal Periodic Review of the Comoros

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the Union of the Comoros. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in Comoros’s education field.

  • Comoros, formally known as the Union of The Comoros, is an independent country made up of three islands in Southeastern Africa, located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean.
  • Comoros stands as one of the most economically disadvantaged and underdeveloped countries globally. The three islands contend with insufficient transportation connections, a youthful and swiftly growing population, and a scarcity of natural resources.
  • There are two educational systems concurrently in Comoros: l’École Quranic (Koranic School) and l’École Officielle (Official School). Almost all children attend a Quranic school for 2 or 3 years before beginning primary school. L’Enseignement elémentaire(Primary school) is six years, starting at age six.
  • In Comoros, it is mandated by law that every child must undergo eight years of schooling from the age of seven to fifteen. This education system consists of six years dedicated to primary education, catering to students aged six to twelve, succeeded by an additional seven years of secondary school education.
  • Today, the education system comprises the formal school, taught mainly in French, and the Koranic school due to the extended majority of Comorans being Sunni Muslims.
  • Often, due to financial issues, many families send their children to Koranic schools, where students can receive an Islamic education for free.
  • This report first explores the main issues in the educational field in Comoros, reflecting on the recommendations the country received in the 3rd cycle UN UPR review in 2019 and its progress since. Finally, Broken Chalk offers some suggestions to Comoros on further improving its human rights in the educational field.

By Leticia Cox

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Letter by the High Commissioner to the Foreign Minister, 2018. https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/lib-docs/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session32/KM/HC_letter_Comoros_ENG.pdf







Cover image by aboodi vesakaran via Pexels

Universal Periodic Review of the Dominican Republic

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review for The Dominican Republic. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in Domincan Republic’s education field.

  • The Dominican Republic overcame many challenges over the last two decades to achieve its enhanced socioeconomic status. Vital reforms and policies allowed the country to prevail over the obstacles of the 2003-4 economic crisis, with an improvement that halved the number of people living in poverty today.[i]
  • As of 2023, among the approximately 11 million people inhabiting the Dominican Republic, 2.9 million students have enrolled in public or private schools. The development strategies that reinforced children’s access to education result from a joint effort with the participation of the government, international organisations, and personal and academic sectors. [ii]
  • One of the most significant accomplishments of recent years is that compulsory education was extended to 13 years instead of the previously mandated eight years. Three levels of the educational structure in the Dominican Republic – pre-primary (3 years), primary (8 years), and secondary level (4 years) – are also being offered free of charge, except the 4th level, higher education.[iii]
  • Under SDGs and the “National Development Strategy 2010-30”, authorities of the Dominican Republic pledged to ensure education for all regardless of gender, financial status, or territorial placement.[iv] To boost literacy standards, multiple projects have focused on the foundational development of children. These frameworks somewhat weakened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the Dominican Republic took severe account of the modernisation of digital learning and supplied necessary technological equipment for residents in due time.[v]
  • While acknowledging all past efforts, Broken Chalk further aims to highlight educational injustices that continue negatively affecting many Dominican Republic communities.
  • Despite the promising enrolment rates, the number of drop-outs has been rising since 2009. In 2018, only 75% of children in primary education finished 4th, and 63% completed 6th grade. Insufficient secondary education attainment creates inequalities and reduces skilled human capital in the labour market.[vi]
  • Girls’ education is likewise at risk, as the lower secondary school completion rate of 74.5%  for women was below the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) average of 83% in 2021.[vii] Their studies usually end due to gender-based stereotypes, a high proportion of teenage pregnancies, and sexual harassment.[viii]
  • Thousands of Dominican children of foreign descent – primarily Haitian – were rendered stateless in 2013, and despite the national regularisation plan 2018, many still face discriminatory treatment. Unable to reclaim their citizenship, these children are also being denied an education.[ix]
  • Broken Chalk urges the Dominican Republic to uphold its domestic and international human rights obligations by considering the issues and their subsequent recommendations in the present report.

By Abigel Farkas

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  • [i] IMF. “Dominican Republic: 2023 Article IV Consultation-Press Release; Staff Report; and Statement by the Executive Director for Dominican Republic”.
  • International Monetary Fund, Country Report No. 2023/225, 22 June, (2023): p. 4. www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2023/06/22/Dominican-Republic-2023-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-by-535083.
  • [ii] Dede, Chris. “Episode 150 | How the Dominican Republic Overcame Educational Challenges of the Pandemic.” Silver Lining for Learning, May 7, (2023). https://silverliningforlearning.org/episode-150-how-the-dominican-republic-overcame-educational-challenges-of-the-pandemic/.
  • [iii] Diaz, Katia. “COVID-19 and Digital Learning in the Dominican Republic: Implications for Marginalized Communities.” Current Issues in Comparative Education (CICE), Teachers College, Columbia University 23, no. 2 (2021): p. 144–45. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/media/centers-amp-labs/cice/pdfs/special-issue-2022–vol-24-issue-2/859-233-PB.pdf.
  • [iv] OECD, ed. “Latin American Economic Outlook 2019: Development in Transition.” OECD Publishing, (2019): p. 210. https://www.oecd.org/dev/americas/Dominican-Republic-Country-Note-Leo-2019.pdf.
  • [v] Diaz, Katia. “Uncovering Educational Inequalities: COVID-19 Digital Learning Strategies in the Dominican Republic.” Current Issues in Comparative Education (CICE), Teachers College, Columbia University 24, no. 2 (2022): 151–62. https://www.tc.columbia.edu/media/centers-amp-labs/cice/pdfs/special-issue-2022–vol-24-issue-2/859-233-PB.pdf.
  • [vi] OECD. Multi-Dimensional Review of the Dominican Republic: Towards Greater Well-Being for All. OECD ILibrary. Paris: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (2022): p. 71-72. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/560c12bf-en.pdf?expires=1692701204&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=007DC625A9660F225058A2679011AFAA.
  • [vii] The World Bank. n.d. “Dominican Republic Gender Landscape.” World Bank Gender Data Portal. https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/099934406302284977/pdf/IDU03bd707a80b5e204a9b098e0096a5c56a8e2b.pdf.
  • [viii] Núñez, Isamar Marte. “Why Girls Aren’t Learning in the Dominican Republic?” www.unicef.org, April 18, (2022). https://www.unicef.org/dominicanrepublic/en/node/2026.
  • [ix] Freedom House. “Dominican Republic: Freedom in the World 2022 Country Report,” (2022). https://freedomhouse.org/country/dominican-republic/freedom-world/2022.

Cover image by Phyrexian via Wikimedia

Universal Periodic Review of New Zealand

This report drafted by Broken Chalk contributes to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review for New Zealand. This report focuses exclusively on human rights issues in New Zealand’s education field.

  • The education system of New Zealand consists of three levels. Early childhood education is from birth to school entry age. Primary and secondary education ranges from 5-19 years of age. Schooling is compulsory from ages 6-16. Once this is completed, students move to higher and vocational education.
  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) is not compulsory; however, it is attended by 96.8% of children. It is important to note that there are different types of ECE services.[i] The kind of learning that the children receive at an ECE service or Kōhanga Reo follows the guidance of the Te Whāriki curriculum framework.
  • The Te Whāriki curriculum framework has two pathways. Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo is an indigenous approach which is deeply rooted in te reo Māori for Te Kōhanga Reo. Te Whāriki Early Childhood Curriculum is a bicultural framework for early childhood services. Both frameworks are distinct and hold equal significance in their respective contexts.[ii]
  • Te Kōhanga Reo entails a Māori immersion environment for tamariki and their whanau. It caters to tamariki from birth to school age.[iii]
  • Education is free in schools across all government-owned and funded grades. This free education is applicable if you are a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.
  • In the Māori medium of education, students are taught at least 51% of the education in Māori language. In English-medium schools, students learn te reo Māori as a language subject. The Māori language is also used in English-medium schools for teaching curriculum subjects up to 50% of the time. The English-medium schools follow the New Zealand Curriculum, whereas the Māori-medium schools follow a curriculum based on Māori philosophies.[iv]

By Caren Thomas

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[i] Ministry of Education. “Education in New Zealand.” Accessed September 25, 2023. https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/our-role-and-our-people/education-in-nz/#Early

[ii] Te Whāriki Online. “Te Whāriki Online”. Accessed September 25, 2023. https://tewhariki.tki.org.nz

[iii] Ministry of Education. “For parents and whānau.” Accessed September 25, 2023.  https://parents.education.govt.nz/early-learning/early-childhood-education/different-kinds-of-early-childhood-education/

[iv] Ministry of Education. “Education in New Zealand.” Accessed September 25, 2023. https://www.education.govt.nz/our-work/our-role-and-our-people/education-in-nz/#Early

Cover image by Ronnie Macdonald on Flickr.

Universal Periodic Review of Slovakia

The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Slovak Republic.

  • Public schools provide primary and secondary education free of charge. Higher education is also accessible for full-time students, ensuring they do not exceed the standard length of study. Private and church schools may charge for education provided.[i]
  • The state budget allocates funds to schools according to the number of pupils, personnel and economic demands.[ii]
  • Compulsory school attendance lasts ten years between the ages of 6 and 16.[iii]
  • The Slovak language is the language of instruction at most schools.[iv]
  • Decentralisation in the Slovak Republic is based on a dual system of i) self-government by local authorities (regions and municipalities) and ii) “deconcentrated” state administration that refers to the transfer of responsibilities to local units of the central government.[v]
  • As of 2016, Slovakia’s education funding stood at 3.9% of the national GDP, ranking 109th worldwide. In 2019, London think-tank The Legatum Institute ranked Slovakia’s education system 48th out of 167 countries evaluated, and 2019 data from The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted an upward trend in education spending ($15.87 per student). However, the OECD also identified a decline in Slovakian students’ math, reading, and science scores.[vi]
  • Higher education institutions are independent institutions that manage the course and focus of education, research, development, economy, and their internal organisation. Law defines the extent of the self-governing scope of higher education institutions.[vii]
  • In the Slovak Republic, 39% of 25-34-year-olds had a tertiary qualification in 2021 compared to 47% on average across OECD countries. In the Slovak Republic, the share of women among general upper secondary graduates is 59% (OECD average 55%). Men make up 55% of all vocational upper secondary graduates, the same as the OECD average.[viii]
  • Although education in Slovakia is relatively well-organised and of high quality, the system has some issues. These issues are demonstrated by a survey, for instance, conducted by researchers at Bratislava’s Comenius University, which revealed that around 50% of the respondents would rather receive their higher education abroad than at home.[ix]
  • Broken Chalk (BC) appreciates all achievements and advancements of the Slovakian educational system and urges the Slovakian government to address issues in its education to guarantee its citizens their human right to education.

By Müge Çınar

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[i] OECD. 2016. “School Education in the Slovak Republic.” OECD ILibrary. Paris. February 19, 2016. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264247567-5-en.pdf?expires=1692179646&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=B37450E5DE054F38AE5C043EDEC52DDB.

[ii] ibid.

[iii] ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] OECD. 2016. “School Education in the Slovak Republic.” OECD ILibrary. Paris. February 19, 2016. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/9789264247567-5-en.pdf?expires=1692179646&id=id&accname=guest&checksum=B37450E5DE054F38AE5C043EDEC52DDB.

[vi] “8 Facts about Education in Slovakia.” 2020. The Borgen Project. February 21, 2020. https://borgenproject.org/8-facts-about-education-in-slovakia/.

[vii] “Education GPS – Slovak Republic – Overview of the Education System (EAG 2019).” n.d. Gpseducation.oecd.org. https://gpseducation.oecd.org/CountryProfile?primaryCountry=SVK&treshold=10&topic=EO.

[viii] ibid.

[ix] “8 Facts about Education in Slovakia.” 2020. The Borgen Project. February 21, 2020. https://borgenproject.org/8-facts-about-education-in-slovakia/.

Cover image by Kiwiev on Wikimedia Commons.

Universal Periodic Review of Vanuatu

The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Republic of Vanuatu.

  • Vanuatu’s Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) administers and manages the country’s formal education system composed of two years of preschool, six years of primary school, four years of junior secondary education, and three years of senior secondary education. [i] The six years of primary education have been compulsory and universal since 2010. Over 98% of elementary schools are public or government-aided Christian schools. [ii]
  • Vanuatu has significantly raised the share of government expenditure dedicated to education compared to the total government spending. In 2020, 20.98% of the total expenditure was dedicated to education, increasing to 23.76% by 2021. In the progress report for 2021 and 2022, the exact government expenditure still needs to be mentioned. Nevertheless, the report describes progress in the education support program as satisfactory and anticipates that approximately 28% of the total government expenditure will be allocated to the education sector in 2022. This shows Vanuatu’s dedication and commitment to meet domestic educational funding objectives. [iii]
  • Local educational groups encompass Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Technical Assistants (TAs) who provide specialised technical knowledge and assistance in educational projects or programs. These actors actively participate in evidence-driven policy discussions and monitor equity and learning outcome efforts to improve educational results. [iv]
  • The multilingual character of the community has a significant impact on education. Bislama, the local pidgin language, is the prevalent means of communication nationwide. Children receive their education in French or English schools with a language policy promoting students to start their early education in their native vernacular before transitioning to French and English. [v]
  • Vanuatu comprises 83 scattered islands, with 64 of them being inhabited. It is considered the most disaster-prone country globally, frequently encountering earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, and flooding. This poses unique challenges to ensuring education, educational materials and access to continuous education in emergencies. [vi]
  • With about 50% of Vanuatu’s population being of schooling age, the educational system has considerable influence and responsibility. The primary education sector accommodates most students, making up approximately 59% of the total student population within the education system in any given year, with enrolment rates increasing. Participation levels in pre-school and secondary school are somewhat lower. Although registration has risen recently, many students drop out at the junior secondary level. [vii]
  • Broken Chalk is delighted to see Vanuatu’s dedication to advancing Gender Equity and Inclusion in Education. This commitment is evident through initiatives to increase awareness of Gender-based Violence and foster equitable educational opportunities, particularly by enhancing the participation of girls and women in higher education through the Gender Equity in Education Policy (GEEP) reviewed in August 2018. The policy aims to secure equal opportunities and rights for every individual in education and training, with its overarching objective being to cultivate a proficient and capable human resource pool that can contribute to the nation and the global community. [viii]

By Inja van Soest

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[i] GlobalPartnership.org. “Education and Training Sector Strategy (VETSS) for 2020-2030.” GPE Transforming Education, 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/education-and-training-sector-strategic-plan-2020-2030-vanuatu. (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023) P. 3

[ii] GlobalPartnership.org. “Vanuatu | Where We Work | Global Partnership for Education.” www.globalpartnership.org. GPE Transforming Education, 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/vanuatu. (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023)

[iii] GlobalPartnership.org. “GPE 2025 Results Framework for Vanuatu.” GPE Transforming Education, 2022. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/gpe-2025-results-framework-vanuatu. (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023) P. 1.;    Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “2021-22 Vanuatu Development Program Progress Report,” Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2021.

[iv] GlobalPartnership.org. “GPE 2025 Results Framework for Vanuatu.” GPE Transforming Education, 2022. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/gpe-2025-results-framework-vanuatu. (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023) P. 2.

[v] GlobalPartnership.org. “Education and Training Sector Strategy (VETSS) for 2020-2030.” GPE Transforming Education, 2020. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/education-and-training-sector-strategic-plan-2020-2030-vanuatu. (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023) P. 1.

[vi] ibid P. 1

[vii] ibid. P. 3, 8

[viii] Ministry of Education and Training. Reviewed Gender Equity in Education Policy (GEEP) (2018). https://moet.gov.vu/docs/policies/Reviewed%20Gender%20Equity%20in%20Education%20Policy_2018.pdf (Accessed 12 Sept. 2023)

Cover image by Michael Coghlan on Flickr.

Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay

The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

  • Education in Uruguay is accessible at all levels. Public education is centrally regulated by the National Public Education Administration (CODICEN). At the same time, there is also a Ministry of Education and Culture, which partly regulates private pre-primary and tertiary education and coordinates the education system but does not formulate policies.[i]
  • Uruguayan children spend 11 years in compulsory education. The last three years of secondary education are non-compulsory, and they prepare students for higher education or provide them with vocational skills. [ii]
  • Many children attend public institutions: 86% of children in early childhood education are enrolled in public schools.[iii]
  • The gross enrolment in primary school was 104.19% in 2020, slightly higher than the world average of 102.59%, while 119.9% of children enrolled in secondary education, significantly higher than the 94.51% world average. [iv]
  • It is also notable that approximately 68% of people in Uruguay had tertiary education in 2020, which was higher than the international average of 52%.[v]
  • Broken Chalk (BC) is pleased to note that equity is becoming an ever-greater focus in Uruguayan education to ensure that children from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind. The Community Teacher Programme, the Teacher + Teacher Programme, the Tutoring Project and the Education Engagement Programme all provide opportunities for schools to offer extra help to students in need.[vi]
  • BC also admires that since 2015, compulsory education starts at age 3.[vii]
  • While there are positive indicators of the performance of the Uruguayan educational system, the country’s educational sector does display issues. Problems often relate to socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination based on ethnicity.
  • In the PISA survey, Uruguayan students scored lower than the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science. Socioeconomically advantaged students not only outperform their socioeconomically disadvantaged peers by 99 points, which is above the OECD average of 89 points, but are also largely secluded in different institutions. This means a socioeconomically disadvantaged child has a mere 14% chance of attending the same school as their more affluent peers.[viii]
  • Dropout rates are also a prominent issue in Uruguay: only 45 in every 100 people between 20-23 hold a secondary education diploma, one of the worst statistics in Latin America.[ix]
  • As Uruguay ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, the state must commit to carrying out its duties and obligations, which include the insurance of equal opportunity for all children. Thus, BC urges Uruguay to address all issues which prevent the realisation of the rights set out in the Convention.

By Johanna Farkas

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[i] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 45.

[ii] Uruguay Education. “The Education System of Uruguay – Primary, Secondary and Higher.” www.uruguayeducation.info. https://www.uruguayeducation.info/education-system/education-profile.html. (Accessed August 14, 2023.).

[iii] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 49.

[iv] The Global Economy. “Uruguay Primary School Enrollment – Data, Chart.” The Global Economy. Accessed August 14, 2023. https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Uruguay/Primary_school_enrollment/.; The Global Economy. “Uruguay Secondary School Enrollment – Data, Chart.” The Global Economy. (Accessed August 14, 2023.). https://www.theglobaleconomy.com/Uruguay/Secondary_school_enrollment/.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Santiago, P., et al. (2016), OECD Reviews of School Resources: Uruguay 2016, OECD Reviews of School Resources, OECD Publishing, Paris; 19.

[vii] Uruguay. “National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 5 of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 16/21* – Uruguay.” Uruguay, November 2018; 15.

[viii] OECD. “Country Note: Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) Results from PISA 2018.” OECD, 2019. https://www.oecd.org/pisa/publications/. (Accessed August 14, 2023.): 4-5.

[ix] Cura, Daniela , Nelson Ribeiro Jorge, Martín Scasso, and Gerardo Capano. “Challenges and Opportunities for Equity in Education: Main Barriers to Accessing and Using Ceibal Tools for Children and Adolescents in Uruguay.” Ceibal and UNICEF, 2022; 7.

Cover image by Linda on Flickr.

Universal Periodic Review of Chile

The following report has been drafted by Broken Chalk as a stakeholder contribution to the Republic of Chile.

  • In Chile, the constitution and several education acts build up the legal framework of the Chilean education system. Based on these education acts, since 2003, primary and secondary education has been compulsory and free for children aged six and up. [i]
  • primary and secondary education are eight and four years, respectively. Secondary education is divided into two tracks: a general academic curriculum in the humanities and sciences and one with a vocational curriculum.[ii]
  • The Chilean educational system is decentralised and consists of three types of schools: municipal, private subsidised, and private non-subsidized. The Department of Municipal Education manages municipal schools, while private persons or institutions manage the other two kinds of schools.[iii]
  • 77% of Chilean 3-5-year-old children are enrolled in early childhood education, although the figure is slightly below the OECD average in 2022.[iv]
  • Based on data collected by the World Bank, Chile impressively achieved a youth literacy of 99% and an adult literacy of 97% in 2021.[v]
  • Aligning with gender stereotypes, Chilean women are underrepresented in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics when entering tertiary education. Women accounted for less than 20% of new entrants in engineering, manufacturing, construction programs, and communication technologies. In comparison, they accounted for 83% of new entrants to the field of education, a sector traditionally dominated by women in Chile.[vi]
  • In Chile, there are significant differences in educational attainment across subnational regions due to uneven economic conditions and the pattern of internal migrations, resulting in differences in educational opportunities.[vii]
  • Although Chile was severely affected by the pandemic, the country learned from this experience and launched an initiative with UNESCO to strengthen teachers’ digital competence.[viii]
  • As Chile has signed and ratified the ICESCR, the CEDAW and the CRC, Broken Chalk urges Chile to eliminate gender stereotypes existing in society and make de facto changes.[ix]

By Ximeng Zhang

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[i] Nuffic, “Education System Chile Described and Compared with the Dutch System,” January 2015, https://www.nuffic.nl/sites/default/files/2020-08/education-system-chile.pdf. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

[ii] OECD. “Attracting, Developing and Retaining Effective Teachers OECD Activity Country Background Report for Chile,” November 2003. https://www.oecd.org/chile/26742861.pdf. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] OECD, “ Education at a Glance 2022: OECD Indicators, Chile” www.oecd-ilibrary.org, 2022,https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/5c6d0921-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/5c6d0921-en. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

[v] the World Bank, “Literacy Rate, Youth Total (% of People Ages 15-24) – Chile | Data,” data.worldbank.org, n.d., https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.ADT.1524.LT.ZS?locations=CL.(Accessed 11 September 2023).

[vi]  OECD, “ Education at a Glance 2022: OECD Indicators, Chile” www.oecd-ilibrary.org, 2022,https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/5c6d0921-en/index.html?itemId=/content/component/5c6d0921-en. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] UNESCO, “New Initiative by UNESCO and the Chilean Ministry of Education Will Strengthen Teachers’ Digital Skills,” Unesco.org, May 5, 2023, https://www.unesco.org/en/articles/new-initiative-unesco-and-chilean-ministry-education-will-strengthen-teachers-digital-skills. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

[ix] OHCHR, “Treaty Bodies Treaties,” tbinternet.ohchr.org, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Treaty.aspx?CountryID=35&Lang=EN. (Accessed 11 September 2023).

Cover image by David Berkowitz www.marketersstudio.com on Flickr.