Educational challenges in El Salvador: ensuring the right to education amid capricious times

Written by Joan Vilalta Flo

Since the end of the Salvadorian Civil War in 1992, the country has enjoyed many improvements to education, mainly from the implementation of legislation and educational policies to protect the rights of children and to promote quality, and inclusive education. Evidence of these improvements can be found in a 2018 National Council on Education (CONED) evaluation report of the 2016 “El Salvador Educado Plan” (PESE), which indicated developments such as the provision of student and teacher education on the prevention of violence, greater teacher training options and the creation of a Teacher Training National Institute, a significant increase in preschool coverage (from 1.4% in 2014 to 5.1% in 2018), improved literacy rates, the provision of adaptive educational programs to cater for student’s needs, and a 27.8 million dollar investment to improve school infrastructure.[1]

Despite this, teacher unions, media outlets, non-governmental organizations and academics continue to complain about deficiencies, political failures, and broken promises regarding the protection of the right to education. Salvadorans have recently lived through times of significant change in society, namely the long-term consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the policies brought about by Nayib Bukele’s presidency. Bukele’s most notable change was a crackdown on gang violence, El Salvador’s long-lasting scourge, through a controversial mass detention campaign against the powerful maras. Historically, gang presence has had a negative impact on educational development.[2] Thus, it is appropriate to take a close look at what are the main educational difficulties that the country has faced in the last decade, how have they evolved to this day, and which are the remaining educational challenges through a more nuanced examination of recent literature, data, and events.

Gang Violence and the Right to Education

El Salvador invests a large portion of its budget in security measures to respond to gang violence. Photo by Presidencia El Salvador.

During the last two decades El Salvador has grappled with the crippling effects of gang violence, mostly carried out by the gangs M-13 and Barrio-18, which had their origins in Los Angeles, USA, but extended their reach to Central America through the mass deportation of gang members to El Salvador over the years[3]. An example of the devastating effects of gang violence is the fact that in 2016, the capital of San Salvador had a homicide rate of around 100 per 100,000 inhabitants.[4] The intersection between gang criminality and education goes both ways: while low quality education and lack of access to schooling make individuals prone to join gangs and conduct crimes, the presence of gangs and their activities also hamper educational development, creating a vicious cycle.

A striking fact about gang members that are currently imprisoned is that around 90% of them never finished secondary education and more than 97% have not had access to tertiary education. Most of the gang members range between 12 and 24 years old.[5] These figures reflect the potential consequence of dropping out, lacking access to education, or receiving low-quality education. While there are many causes explaining why youths join gangs, education is an important protective factor. Gangs provide what the state cannot when there is a lack of welfare. Education can mitigate the risk of people slipping through the cracks.[6] Thus, the deficiencies of the educational system that will be explored below can help account for the systemic gang violence that has plagued the country over the last decades.

In 2016, when gang violence in El Salvador peaked, it was reported that children were abandoning school due to the dramatic rise of gang threats, and teacher unions estimated that around 100.000 students dropped out during the previous year due to such violence.[7]Teachers were affected as well by the threats and extortions, which also hindered their capacity to perform, and, by extension, the quality of education decreased. It was estimated that 60% of Salvadoran schools were affected by gang violence.[8] Students were not only deprived of education due to the violent climate created by the gangs, but also because they were (and still are) the main recruitment target of these groups, which evidently curtail the professional possibilities of their members.

Despite improvements to education, the challenges that gangs pose to educational development are the same. More recent studies, including the first empirical investigations into how gang presence affects education. Gang violence has also been found to lead to lower household incentives to invest in education, as well as lower academic performance due to victimization risks (accounting for the mental and physical wellbeing), the impact of crime on household budgets, and the impact on future expectations of families and students. [9]

Finally, it must be noted that Bukele’s presidency has been a turning point regarding gang violence in El Salvador. Adding to the steady decline of homicides since 2015, the latest government’s crackdown against gangs was possible due to the enactment of a state of emergency declared in March 2022, and has resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of more than 60.000 suspected gang members, with El Salvador reaching the highest incarceration rate in the world.[10] In dense urban areas where extortion was rampant, business seem to be finally flourishing, and homicides have plummeted (from 1.147 in 2021 to 495 in 2022).[11] Therefore it is legitimate to also expect a positive impact on education. However, it is too soon to have data on the impact that this might have had in education, but it should be noted that some experts see these repressive measures as a short-term solution, and that the best long-term strategy is, precisely, to invest in community-oriented strategies to improve educational quality and coverage. This does not only include the education of future generations but also that of imprisoned gang members.[12] The expectation is that educational rehabilitation will be provided by the program “Segundas Oportunidades”, but this is one of the most important educational challenges that El Salvador is yet to face.

Low-Quality Infrastructure

Recent news reports in El Salvador have made visible widespread teacher protests regarding the deficient state of most educational institutions’ infrastructure. According to Manuel Molina, the representative of a teacher union called Movimiento Magisterial Salvadoreño, around 85% of school infrastructure are in a bad condition. Together with large groups of education workers, Molina criticizes the inefficiency of the 2021 educational policy plan, “Mi Nueva Escuela,” claiming that only 70 centers in the metropolitan area of San Salvador have been provided with infrastructural improvements, while the remaining 600 sustain significant structural damages that hamper the quality of education and endanger students’ safety.[13]

El Salvador is in an area of high seismic activity, which costs an average of 0.7% of the country’s annual GDP. Other natural disasters, such as floods and landslides are also common in the country.[14] These have caused accumulated damages to educational centers, which are the most affected type of infrastructure according to a study conducted between 2015 and 2016.[15] Most centers do not have the proper infrastructure to withstand such disasters and that there has not been enough focus on the reparation of many schools. It has been widely documented in recent research about El Salvador’s educational system that poor infrastructure directly affects the learning quality of student and curtails the performance of teachers, thus making it a priority in order to fully ensure the right to education.

Bukele’s plan of “Mi Nueva Escuela” precisely acknowledges the importance of this issue and includes the promise of dedicating, in 2023 and with the aid of transnational banks, more than 289 million dollars to repair and build around 5.000 education centers.[16] However, it should be noted that this plan was initially launched in 2021 and its implementation has been slow or inactive, and no consistent follow-ups or data on it have been provided.[17] Media outlets and teacher unions have protested, as noted above, against the sluggish governmental action to solve the problem.

Insufficient Educational Budget

While it needs to be acknowledged that state budget in education has increased significantly over the last eight years (from 3.8% of the country’s GDP in 2014 to 4.6% in 2021), El Salvador is still far from the ideal benchmark of 7%, set and acknowledged by the governmental estimates of the 2016 PESE plan. In 2019, it was reported that the education budget for that year lacked around 1.2 million dollars to obtain the desired benchmark.[18] It is essential that education receives the budget it deserves, not only to provide adequate infrastructure and material, but also to provide better teacher trainings, technological tools to families and schools alike, scholarships for disadvantaged children, and to expand the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.

The Effects of COVID-19

Children in El Salvador use masks and face shields to protect them as they continue learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by USAID/EL Salvador.

El Salvador was one of the countries with stricter measures during the Covid-19 pandemic; educational centers remained closed from March 2020 to April 2021.[19] There is not yet a lot of information on the specific effects that the pandemic had on El Salvador, but some estimates expect a learning loss of 1.2 years.[20] It has also been reported that educational coverage has stagnated with the pandemic, and that inequalities were maintained throughout that period, even exacerbated (for instance, the poorest quintile’s rate of school assistance decreased from 65% in 2019 to 64.3% in 2021). The quality of education has suffered damage from the pandemic as well: in all learning areas, student performance decreased significantly in the last years of secondary education, attaining less than a 50% rate of successful achievement in languages and math.[21] These results suggest that remote education did not motivate students and that, even for those with the necessary resources, learning development proved to be difficult. On top of that, the percentage of high school students with notable symptoms of depression or anxiety rose from 13.5% in 2020 to 19.6% in 2021.[22]

Further studies on the educational challenges posed by Covid-19 in El Salvador align with the issues outlined above and point to a deeper problem that has become noticeable during the pandemic: the technological breach and the lack of digital literacy.

Students receive computers and lessons in San Bartolomé Perulapía. Photo by Presidencia El Salvador.

The technological breach refers to the significant portion of students who do not possess the adequate technological equipment nor appropriate connectivity to receive quality remote education. A recent survey suggests that around 13% of the students do not have technological equipment (e.g., a laptop or tablet), and that a 28.7% must share it with other family members, and only 3 out of 10 students report to have a good connectivity in their house. Moreover, around 45% of the students report to not have the adequate space at home to do remote education.[23] State-collected statistics confirm that the rate of student access to internet is lower than 50% for all levels of primary school and around 70% for secondary school, that such access rate is at least 10% higher in private schools for all levels of education, and around 20% higher in urban areas.[24] All in all, the evidence suggests that there is inequality in terms of access to technology between the rich and the poor, as well as between urban and rural populations.

The lack of digital literacy is especially important as regards teachers: only 3 out of 10 students consider that teachers are appropriately capacitated to teach online.[25] A recent study that measures the quality of education in El Salvador reports that the staff of most educational centers, especially those located outside major urban areas, have not received any training on digital skills and literacy. Those staff are unable to provide quality remote education and to make the best use of Text Box:   Retrieved from: technologies in class, since the presence of material is impractical if the educator does not have the skill to use it. Furthermore, most educational centers in less populated regions do not possess the adequate technology to provide quality, up-to-date education, and often have poor access to internet.[26] The most recent state-recorded statistics on the matter align with the described problem: in 2018, the average number of students per computer at school was 19, and the percentage of teachers able to access internet at school on the same year was only 60.4%.[27]

Problems in Public Superior Education

Higher education is often essential to develop professionally in a globalized world. Due to a lack of monetary resources and weak political will, public higher education in El Salvador faces a range of problems that hamper the universal provision of quality, university-level training:

First, it has been reported that public university infrastructure is insufficient to host the vast quantity of students that wish to attend it. In fact, in public universities it is not rare to have more than a hundred students per one teacher, which obviously diminishes the quality of education for all. In comparison, private institutions might take in more students overall, but they have the appropriate infrastructure to avoid overcrowding.[28]

Secondly, the capacity constraint of public universities leads them to impose a highly strict admission filter: in 2019, 51.5% of first year university aspirants were ruled out by the admission tests at the Universidad de El Salvador (UES). While, by law, the right to higher education is to be ensured by the state, in practice, the opportunity is formally given to all but only obtained by a few. Equality of opportunity should not be confused with equality of possibility; and it seems that the possibility to access higher education is greater for those who can afford private education or the conditions to prepare access to public education, than for those who live in poverty (29.2% of the population in 2018).[29] Even in a society that values merit (a contestable term), the numbers seem excessive, and the term public seems to be drained of meaning.

Stagnated Educational Coverage and Low-Quality Education

In El Salvador, Adventist Church graduates thousands from its decade-long literacy program. Photo by Adventist News.

El Salvador finds itself in quite a decent position with a 90% rate in 2021 (the latest recorded).[30] However, when considering the average of its Latin American neighbors, El Salvador finds itself 4 percentual points below the average, a 94%.[31] Furthermore, it should be noted that since 2014, El Salvador’s literacy rate has remained almost unchanged, albeit slowly increasing (in 2014 the rate was of 89.1%).[32] This signals that around 10% of the population consistently remains illiterate, that efforts in that area could have been more fruitful, and that full educational coverage is still quite ahead of the current situation. In addition, the illiteracy rates show that women are significantly more affected than men (in 2021 the rate was of 8.1% for the women and 11.7% for the men), and that rural communities have a higher portion of illiterate population than urban areas (in 2021, the rate was of 15.5% for the former and of 6.8% for the latter).[33]

Beyond the issue of illiteracy, the 2022 rate of out-of-school population also leaves much to be desired: with an average rate of 40.38%, it is striking to note that the rate is greater than 46% for all ages under 5 years-old, decreasing throughout primary school levels, and then increasing notably from the age of 16 onwards, reaching almost 60% at the age of 18. When differentiating by gender, it seems that there is a greater proportion of men out of school.[34] Similarly, the dropout rates reach a concerning historic high of 14.7% in 2021 (the latest recorded) in secondary education. Again, the statistics indicate that men are significantly more likely to drop out than women, especially during the last years of primary education.[35] It seems that the challenge that lays ahead is not only to widen basic educational coverage but also to specifically do it in rural areas, with a focus on secondary education and with a gender lens.

Quality in education has been a longstanding concern in El Salvador. The most recent state-collected statistics display an astounding difference between the gross and the net rate of enrollment per level in 2022, that is, the difference between calculating the proportion of students enrolled in each level without regard for their age, and calculating the proportion of students with the corresponding theoretical age enrolled in each level. While the former shows rates of around 80% for the levels of primary and secondary school, each figure drops to a 10% less (approximately) in the latter.[36] That signals that there is an important educational lag at every level of education, something that is confirmed by the high rates of overage students at each level of education.[37] Another fact that signals that educational quality requires improvement in El Salvador is that the most common reason to abandon school in the country is low student performance, accounting for 22.4% of school dropouts.[38] Moreover, in previous sections it has already been shown how educational attainment, especially in the post-Covid context, is low.[39]

All things considered, El Salvador needs to boost student performance. Therefore, it seems important to shed light on what might be the causes of such figures, and according to recent reports and literature, some of these elements have already been discovered. Leaving the inescapable and damaging effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on educational development aside, studies suggest that to improve student motivation, possibilities and curricula, educational centers need to increase their contact with local communities and families. Working together with the immediate context of the students would propitiate the ideal learning conditions, in terms of support mechanisms and motivation through the applicability of knowledge.[40] Besides that, it is also important to consider that the low educational budget, reported lack of material and educational infrastructure hinders the learning possibilities and performance of students; something that seems to be especially present in most areas outside the capital.[41] On top of that, it is extremely important to increase teacher training programs and to address the critical teacher shortage in the country. In 2018, the statistics indicated that there were 27 students per teacher in El Salvador, while the regional average is at 21 students per teacher.[42] It should be noted that the teacher shortage was significantly higher in public schools and in rural areas.[43]

Multilevel Discrimination

Students participate in an environmental fair. Photo by Codelco.

As it might have been picked up from some of the data provided in the previous sections, there are clear discriminatory divides in the educational system of El Salvador. It has been shown how schools in rural areas receive less resources and attention than those in urban areas, how low student performance and low educational quality seems to primarily affect rural areas and the public sector, indicating that wealth might play a role in such difference, and how the gender lens allows for the identification of higher illiteracy among women and higher dropout rates among men. This final section will explore more deeply the main educational inequalities that need to be overcome in El Salvador.

Although it has shown great improvement over the last decade[44], El Salvador still shows significant levels of economic inequality, while low levels of economic power have been directly associated with having less educational opportunities, especially in the later years of educational development, due to the impossible costs of higher education and necessity to leave education in order to work for the family, or even due to joining a gang in contexts where state control and support is more absent.[45] Some accounts state that the issue of poverty (and, by extension, lack of access to education) is a matter of government prioritization of rich over the poor, actively contributing to (educational) inequality and a cycle of crime and poverty.

Gender parity in education has shown good results in 2022, often indicating a disparity in favor of women. However, El Salvador has been reported to be a country where patriarchal systems prevail and discrimination and violence against women is rampant, including at school.[46] In 2017, 67% of women aged 25 and older reported being victims of gender-based violence, and the pervasiveness of school-based gender-based violence has also been reported.[47] It has been argued and investigated, that while access to education has been fairly ensured for women, the sexist environment that they encounter at school can be an obstacle to their development.[48] The issue is, then, that girls receive a poorer quality education than boys, especially indigenous girls, who face more prejudice due to an intersection of discriminations. The complaint has often been directed towards the fact that gender and violence against girls has not been specifically named as a target area in the recent and current national education plans and inclusive policies. It would be through such focus that teachers would be able to obtain the training and tools to ensure an environment of true equality and to eliminate gender-based prejudice from its root.

More broadly, it has been pointed out that while normative frameworks have been set up to activate inclusive programs in education, no monitoring and evaluation mechanisms have been established yet. The previous national educational plans, such as the “Política de Educación Inclusiva” or the PESE, have not addressed the same issues over the years although such issues were ever-present, making for a scattered landscape of mechanisms to address inclusivity. Moreover, it is argued that these plans only offer temporary (but necessary) solutions such as food programs or support mechanisms for families but overlook the possibility of implementing structural changes. In order to obtain long-lasting improvements, it would be necessary to address poverty in rural areas and to provide them with appropriate infrastructure. Just like it has been argued with the issue of gender, there is also a broad need to be specific when defining the objects of inclusion too (e.g., race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity), so that their difference and value can be acknowledged in the process of providing quality education.[49]

Lastly, it is important to highlight the clear inequalities existing between the rural and urban areas in El Salvador. Resource allocation, better student performance, lower dropout rates, and higher school attendance all concentrate in urban areas. The lack of access to digital tools and connectivity (less than 20% of rural families had internet access during Covid-19, and in 2019 only 19.6% of rural families had computer access) is also a salient issue for rural schools and families, and a much greater one compared to the situation in urban centers. Aside from material deprivation, it has also been reported that children in rural areas often do not find appropriate parental support on school tasks due to the labor conditions of the parents and their (relatively low) educational level. It is also often the case that the profile of families in rural areas is of low economic level, possibly adding the issues mentioned above as regards poverty and education. It should be noted that, in 2018, around 74.88% of the educational centers found themselves in rural areas. Educational issues associated to rural areas such as school dropout due to pursuing jobs (and child labor, for that matter), lack of material and technological conditions, poor transportation options in areas where schools are too far for some students, and the low training levels that some teachers present need to be addressed through integral solutions to avoid perpetuating inequality.

[1] UNDP. (2018, July 27). Presentan avances y desafíos del Plan El Salvador Educado. Retrieved from:

[2] Cruz, J. M., & Speck, M. (2022, October 13). Ending El Salvador’s Cycle of Gang Violence. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from:

[3] Kalsi, P. (2018). The impact of US deportation of criminals on gang development and education in El Salvador. Journal of Development Economics, 135, 433-448.

[4] Dahbura, J. N. M. (2018). The short-term impact of crime on school enrollment and school choice: evidence from El Salvador. Economía, 18(2), 121-145.

[5] Speck, M. (2023, May 10). Mientras represión de las bandas en El Salvador continúa, los ciudadanos se preguntan qué vendrá después. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from: ; Dahbura, J. N. M. (2018). The short-term impact of crime on school enrollment and school choice: evidence from El Salvador. Economía, 18(2), 121-145.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Tjaden, S., & Lasusa, M. (2016, July 22). El Salvador Gangs Cause Tens of Thousands to Leave School. Insight Crime. Retrieved from:

[8] Ibid.

[9] Dahbura, J. N. M. (2018). The short-term impact of crime on school enrollment and school choice: evidence from El Salvador. Economía, 18(2), 121-145.

[10] Speck, M. (2023, May 10). Mientras represión de las bandas en El Salvador continúa, los ciudadanos se preguntan qué vendrá después. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from: ; Cruz, J. M., & Speck, M. (2022, October 13). Ending El Salvador’s Cycle of Gang Violence. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from:

[11] Appleby, P., Dalby, C., Doherty, S., Mistler-Ferguson, S., & Shuldiner, H. (2023, February 8). Insight Crime 2022 Homicide Round-Up. Insight Crime. Retrieved from: ; Speck, M. (2023, May 10). Mientras represión de las bandas en El Salvador continúa, los ciudadanos se preguntan qué vendrá después. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from:

[12] Speck, M. (2023, May 10). Mientras represión de las bandas en El Salvador continúa, los ciudadanos se preguntan qué vendrá después. United States Institute of Peace. Retrieved from: 

[13] Prensa Latina. (2023, February 24). Latente crisis en sector educacional en El Salvador. Retrieved from:

[14] World Bank. (2022, May 19). Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management into El Salvador’s Education Sector. Retrieved from

[15] ESSA. (2016). Natural Hazard Risks for Infrastructure in El Salvador [PDF document]. Retrieved from:

[16] Gobierno de El Salvador. Ministerio de Educación. (n.d.). Mi Nueva Escuela. El Salvador [PDF file]. Retrieved from:

[17] La Prensa Gráfica. (2022, September 8). Por tercera vez, Gobierno promete remodelar escuelas. Retrieved from:

[18] El Faro. (2019, January). Los presidenciables reprueban en educación. Retrieved from:

[19] Fusades. (2022, December). Como está y hacia dónde va la educación en El Salvador. Nota de Política Pública, NPP No. 27 [PDF file]. Retrieved from:

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Picardo Joao, O., Ábrego, A. M., & Cuchillac, V. (2020). Educación y la COVID-19: estudio de factores asociados con el rendimiento académico online en tiempos de pandemia (caso El Salvador).

[24] Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from:

[25] ibid

[26] Iraheta Argueta, W. A. (2020). Índice de Calidad Educativa en El Salvador: Una propuesta desde la Academia.

[27] Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from:

[28] Santiago, M. (2020). El acceso a la educación superior pública en El Salvador. Una aproximación al problema. AKADEMOS, 83-96.

[29] Ibid.

[30] World Bank. (n.d.). Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above). Retrieved 10/06/2023, from:  ; Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from:

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from:

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Iraheta Argueta, W. A. (2020). Índice de Calidad Educativa en El Salvador: Una propuesta desde la Academia.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from: Bank. (n.d.). Gross enrollment ratio, primary, both sexes (% of relevant age group) in ZJ. Retrieved from:

[43] Ministerio de Educación de El Salvador. (2020, November 19). Estadísticas e indicadores. Retrieved from:

[44] World Bank. (n.d.). El Salvador. Retrieved from:

[45] Bissonnette, I. (2019). El Salvador’s drivers of poverty: Low levels of education, lack of access to water and sanitation, and violence and crime. Global Majority E-Journal4.

[46] Vandzura, A. (2021). Inclusive Education in El Salvador: Ensuring Quality Education and Gender Equality at the Primary Level. University of Ottawa.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Muñoz Morán, C. A. (2019). Educación inclusiva en El Salvador. Una reflexión desde las políticas educativas. Revista latinoamericana de educación inclusiva13(1), 21-36.

Arbitrary Arrests in Afghanistan: Justice for Education Activist Matiullah Wesa

Written by Müge Çınar

The Arbitrary Arrest of Education Activist Matiullah Wesa

On 27 March 2023, human rights defender Matiullah Wesa was arbitrarily arrested after praying at a local mosque. When Matiullah Wesa stepped out from the mosque, he encountered gunmen with two vehicles who wanted to arrest him. Although Wesa asked for the IDs of the men, they showed their weapons and took Wesa away. Now, Wesa’s family is of great concern for his health and safety. Matiullah Wesa, aged 30, had been threatened before by the Taliban. Despite the threats to his safety, He didn’t leave Afghanistan and stayed to advocate boys’ and girls’ education rights.[1]

On the 27th of March, the UN Special Rapporteur stated that the human rights defender’s safety is the most important and his legal rights have to be respected. On the 28th of March, the UN Mission of Afghanistan (UNAMA) requested the reason behind the arrest of Matiullah Wesa and his location must be announced immediately.[2] Also, the demand for legal representation and contact with the family of Wesa has been expressed by UNAMA. The UN, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations call for urgent action for justice.

On March 29, a Taliban spokesman confirmed his arrest, citing “illegal activities” as the reason for Wesa’s arrest. Wesa’s family has been prohibited from seeing him, and there is no way to challenge the truth of the accusations made against him.  After the arrest, the Taliban entered his house; and took phones, documents, and computers. The brothers of Matiullah were briefly held and then freed after receiving a warning.[3]

Matiullah Wesa campaigning for education in Afghanistan. Photo from Matiullah Wesa.

Matiullah Wesa’s Mission on Promoting Education Rights via PenPath

Matiullah Wesa is known as the most prominent education activist in Afghanistan with his campaigns via the organization PenPath. He established the education organization PenPath with his brothers in 2009.[4] His aim has been to improve and promote education access in all areas of Afghanistan. During his 14-year-old journey of education activism, he traveled to remote and rural parts of the country that were damaged by war and collaborated with the tribal leaders to open schools and libraries to educate children in need. He has been also bringing PanPath’s mobile schools and libraries and most importantly campaigning for women’s education. More than 100 schools have been reopened by Pen Path; and 110,000 kids, 66,000 of whom are girls, have been able to access educational facilities and resources.[5] Is Matiullah being punished for this?

He developed the PenPath network, which now has more than 3,000 volunteers around the nation.[6] They support local classroom setup, teacher recruitment, and supply distribution. He has continued to support girls’ education in his campaigns despite the ban on girls enrolling in secondary schools. He also launched a door to door campaign against the ban on girls’ education.

Wesa has long been an advocate for women’s education in Afghanistan, particularly in rural regions, and his Twitter feed is full of tweets urging for the reopening of schools to women and girls. His last tweet was  “Men, women, elderly, young, everyone from every corner of the country is asking for the Islamic rights to education for their daughters,” before his arrest.[7] He was also planning to make a speech at a meeting about girls’ education prior to the situation. The Taliban have made unclear statements claiming Wesa’s activities as “suspicious” concerning his arrest. Although Wesa was not politically engaged, the Taliban’s exploitation of his public image is for their political gain.[8]

Matiullah Wesa’s detention demonstrates the de facto government’s effort to repress human rights advocates and those who speak up for female education rights. Hours before his detention, the human rights advocate was active on Twitter, highlighting the unavoidable and lasting effects of the closure of schools and the prohibition on girls’ education. It is a great reminder to us that consistent action and solidarity of the International community are needed to prevent women from losing their rights in Afghanistan.

Many people have expressed their outrage on social media over Matiullah Wesa’s arrest and called for his release. Wesa has been exercising his right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. According to international human rights law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Afghanistan is a state party, this arrest clearly violates the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

The Exploitation of the Right to Education of Women, Minorities and Conflict-Victims in Afghanistan

Following the US-led invasion that overthrew the previous government in 2001, the Taliban came into power in 2021. With the withdrawal of the US’s remaining troops as decided in a 2020 peace agreement with the Taliban, the rule of law in Afghanistan has been changed drastically. The Taliban rule has brought barriers to the human rights of women and minorities, imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.[9]

Since the Taliban came into power in August 2021, the women’s and girls’ right to education, work and free movement has been violated. This situation paved the way for the girls to be subject to discrimination, domestic violence and child marriages. The Taliban announced on March 21, 2022, that all schools would reopen on March 23, but on that day they once more closed secondary schools for girls. The situation has not changed after 1 year in 2023, more than 3 million girls have been denied secondary education.[10]

His active campaigns across Afghanistan with his organization Pen Path turned him into a target for the Taliban. Photo by Matiullah Wesa.

In November 2022, three women rights activists – Zarifa Yaqoobi, Farhat Popalzai and Humaira Yusuf –  were arbitrarily arrested by the Taliban.[11] In December 2022, the Taliban prohibited women from attending universities “until further notice” and instructed all national and international NGOs to terminate the employment of all women on staff “until further notice”.

The Ministry of Higher Education pointed out that the problem derives from Immorality including the presence of female students in dorms, traveling from the provinces without a mahram, failure to observe the hijab wearing and the presence of mixed classes. Banning women from higher education, they were instructed to enroll in public universities near their homes while they are prohibited to study law, commerce, journalism, engineering, agriculture and veterinary medicine.[12] According to the Taliban, closures are temporary, yet authorities blame logistics rather than ideological barriers.

Not only women are deprived of their main right to have an education but religious and ethnic minorities have been suffering from a lack of education and several attacks on educational facilities. According to the UN report on Afghanistan by Richard Bennett, Hazara Community was targeted by 16 attacks, including three against educational institutions. And, Attack on the Kaaj Educational Center on September 30, 2022, left 114 people injured and 54 people dead.[13]

Conflict-related education rights abuses are another important issue to be addressed in Afghanistan. The UN Special Reporter also examined reports that show a huge increase in the recruitment and use of children as soldiers during the past years. Additionally, the rapid rise in attacks against schools, students and educational personnel, nearly eight times per year, has been reported between January and September 2022.[14] The children do not feel safe about their future by not getting proper education and their life by being in the ongoing conflict.

Other Targeted Activists by the Taliban

The Wesa brothers are the most recent arbitrary arrest targeted at society activists and protesters who have spoken out against the closure of education rights for girls and women. The report released in February by UNAMA shows 28 civil society actors and human rights defenders got arbitrarily arrested and 10 journalists and media workers were also arrested to be seen as a threat in the past three months.[15]

No society is able to reach its potential to be developed without activists and human rights defenders to bring consciousness to the people. The historical, geopolitical and religious aspects always play a role in the faith of a nation but civil society could also make it possible for authorities to see their mistake to elevate their people. In the case of this situation in Afghanistan, there must be a double effort by the international community to regain women’s essential human rights in the country.













[13] UN, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, 9 February 2023

[14] UN, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, 9 February 2023

[15] UN General Assembly Security Council, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 27 February 2023


UN, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, 9 February 2023

UN General Assembly Security Council, The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security, 27 February 2023

Silencing Minds: The Violation of Basic Human Rights Through School Censorship

Written by Leticia Cox

Efforts by US states to ban school curricula offering historically accurate accounts of racism in the United States is an attack on fundamental human rights and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Image by Leticia Cox.

Education is critical in shaping individuals’ understanding of the world and fostering a just and equitable society. Denying students access to accurate and comprehensive information about racism undermines their ability to grasp the full extent of historical injustices and perpetuates systemic discrimination.

“The May 3 Day of Action in support of the freedom to learn underscores that children and adults have fundamental rights to education and to access accurate information,” said Alison Parker, deputy US director at Human Rights Watch. “Attacks on education are attacks on US democracy because they ban access to the information that motivates voting and political participation.”

Historically accurate accounts of racism provide students with a broader perspective on the development of American society, shedding light on the experiences of marginalised communities and the struggles they have faced. These curricula examine topics such as slavery, segregation, and the civil rights movement, and they are essential for a complete understanding of US history. By learning about the historical roots of racism, students can better comprehend the current social and racial inequalities.

‘One of the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment, gives everyone residing in the United States the right to hear all sides of every issue and to make their own judgments about those issues without government interference or limitations. The First Amendment allows individuals to speak, publish, read and view what they wish, worship (or not worship) as they wish, associate with whomever they choose, and gather to ask the government to make changes in the law or correct the wrongs in society.’ 

Banning the teaching of these subjects not only distorts history but also eternalises a cycle of ignorance and prejudice. Students shielded from confronting the truth about racism are deprived of the opportunity to develop empathy and critical thinking skills necessary for active participation in a diverse and inclusive society. By denying students access to accurate information, these bans undermine the principles of academic freedom and hinder the development of a well-informed citizenry.

A crowd protesting then U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos in 2017. Photo by Ted Eytan.

Furthermore, such bans on teaching accurate accounts of racism affect marginalised communities and perpetuate systemic inequalities. People of colour, who have historically been the victims of racism, have a right to see their experiences and contributions acknowledged in the curriculum. By erasing or downplaying the history of racism, these bans silence marginalised voices and contribute to a culture of exclusion and inequality.

The right to education is a fundamental human right recognised internationally. It encompasses not only the access to education but also the content and quality of education. States should provide an inclusive and comprehensive education that enables students to understand and respect the diversity of human experiences. Banning historically accurate accounts of racism contradicts this obligation and undermines the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

Efforts to ban curricula offering historically accurate accounts of racism must be challenged and resisted. Educators, activists, and advocates must defend the right to education, promote inclusive curricula, and ensure that students have a genuine and nuanced understanding of history. By doing so, we can strive to create a society that confronts its past, acknowledges its flaws, and actively works towards a more just and equitable future for all.

The United Nations and the right to education

Written by Camille Boblet-Ledoyen

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the cornerstone of the United Nations and our international order: ” Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all based on merit.”[1] Since then, education has undergone spectacular development in the history of humanity: but today, dictated by economic rather than humanistic choices, the right to education seems to be falling all around the globe.

Children write their own Declaration of Human Rights at the UN in Vienna. Photo by UNIS Vienna.

The survey conducted by U-Report, a project coordinated by UNICEF, on the theme of basic education among a panel focusing on young people (only 5% of respondents were aged over 31), clearly shows the colossal challenges facing the right to education. 32,847 individuals were surveyed, with a response rate of 91%; 65% of respondents were male (10,891) and 35% were female (5,738). Sub-Saharan African countries, in particular Nigeria, had the most respondents, with 1,836, followed by Congo-Kinshasa with 1,839. By contrast, Europe was the region with the least participation: the United Kingdom was the region with the most respondents, with 160 people polled. When asked “How often do you feel you learn at school”, 42% of respondents said “Always”. However, this response differed according to gender: while 45% of men answered “always”, only 36% of women gave this answer. Women were more likely to answer ‘often’ at 32% (compared with 28% of men) and ‘sometimes’ at 25% (compared with 20% of men). The question “Did you receive enough help at school to acquire basic skills (such as reading and maths) to continue learning and find a job after graduating? 77% of the French answered “yes”, followed by 70% of the Congolese and 58% of the British. The next question reflects respondents’ concerns about the erosion of the right to education: 74% of those questioned believe that the learning crisis will have a negative impact on the future of their country. The Germans, Malaysians, and Dutch are all convinced of this, with 100% positive responses, followed by the Greeks at 83%, the Indians at 82%, and Nigeria at 80%. Respondents aged 25 and over were the most pessimistic, at over 80%. On the subject of the political response to the challenges undermining basic education, those aged 25 and over were the most skeptical, with over 38% giving a negative response. Among Belgians, 68% responded ‘more or less’, while among Canadians 59% were ‘satisfied’ and ‘more or less satisfied’ with the policies being pursued, while among Chileans 78% disapproved. The Germans gave a negative response of 55%, and none of them gave a positive response. French and Indian respondents were more divided: 26% and 25% respectively felt that their governments were providing effective responses to the education crisis, 36% and 34% respectively considered this response to be ‘more or less’ relevant, and 33% disapproved. Finally, when asked “What do you think is the most urgent action that governments should take to tackle the crisis in education and training? 34% of those polled voted in favor of the issue of education funding, 39% of men and 35% of women. Moreover, 28% of women gave priority to helping children who have dropped out of school, compared with 22% of male respondents.

What interpretation can be given to all these responses? First of all, there is no schism between the so-called “North” and “South” countries, as might have been expected. The crisis in education is therefore global, and economic choices have a lot to do with it. Whereas education was the only issue common to both blocs of the Cold War – in Maoist China as much as in the United States of America, in Nasserite Egypt as much as in Kubitschek’s Brazil, and Europe – the Washington Consensus of 1989 put an end to this fundamental notion of “right”. It is important to remember the neo-liberal shift that has been imposed on education: the “reorientation of public spending priorities” introduces the principle of profitability into the public service and will be particularly devastating in Third World countries. The case of Latin America is particularly interesting: as a kind of laboratory for neoliberalism, the right to education has been severely undermined, as in Argentina, Brazil, and, more recently, Chile, where educational structures are gradually being privatized. The public authorities in South Korea have largely delegated education to the private sector (shadow education): 74.5% of South Koreans under the age of twelve were in private education in 2019, according to data from the Korean Statistical Information Office. The introduction of competitiveness at and between higher education institutions is a problem highlighted by the UNICEF survey. Tuition fees have been introduced to address the lack of academic infrastructure, but this response is neither relevant nor effective. The story of a Chilean student in France gathered in 2018 by the newspaper Libération as part of an investigation into the increase in tuition fees is just one example of the iniquitous nature of this method:

“These new tuition fees are too high, especially as I’m already 10,000 euros in debt from my degree in Chile, where the fees are also enormous. I chose France for several reasons: for the language, for the excellent training in social and political sciences. And, of course, the tuition fees, were quite affordable, unlike in Chile where the education system is privatized and only accessible to a minority. In my country, education is very expensive. For those who aren’t lucky enough to get a grant based on social or academic criteria, the only option is to go into debt for several years after graduation.”[2]

Political choices are undermining the very principle of the right to education. The crucial need for investment in education has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and this is true across the board: in developed and developing countries alike, the privatization of education has shown the extent of the devastation: according to the World Bank, “COVID-19 has caused the worst crisis in education and learning for a century”.[3] Above all, the pandemic has highlighted the damage caused by the disengagement of public authorities. The right to education depends on quality infrastructure and, therefore, investment to match. All respondents, whatever their country of origin, are in favor of massive refinancing of education.

Children’s conference on human rights at the UN in Vienna. Photo by UNIS Vienna/Lilia Jiménez-Ertl.

It is worrying to note that the conservative trajectory extends across all the world’s continents, from the rewriting of common history in countries such as India, where Muslim memory is obliterated; to Russia, where revisionism is the narrative employed at the highest levels of the State; but also more traditional democracies such as Japan, where the work of remembrance relating to the Second World War remains problematic, and South Korea, where the Korean War is largely revisited by the new history textbooks.[4] The fact that India, the world’s largest democracy, has embarked on a panoptic shift is dramatic in terms of individual freedoms, particularly academic freedom, which is a pillar of social development, and in geopolitical terms, with the risk of alignment with the Russian Federation and China. Narendra Modi is today a Prime Minister courted by the Great Powers, who have no hesitation in casting a modest veil over his most aggressive policies in the hope – more akin to wishful thinking than anything else – of bringing Delhi closer to the Western bloc.[5] The revision of Indian school textbooks completely obliterates the legacy of some three hundred years of the Muslim Mughal Empire, the assassination of Gandhi by the Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse in 1948, and the bloody repression of the Gujarat riots in 2002, for which Prime Minister Modi is held responsible.[6]

The frequency of learning differs significantly between the two sexes, and this issue deserves to be highlighted. Admittedly, the survey has its limitations, since it is not a question of the resources put in place but of the personal feelings of each respondent: by its very nature, the response is therefore biased. Nevertheless, the 9-point gap between men and women should not be underestimated. This factor can be explained in several ways: education systems designed for men and favoring activities that favor them; lower self-esteem among women than among men; external conditions that undermine women’s education and learning. Bullying at school, low enrolment rates for girls, and sexism are undeniably among the causes. It would have been interesting if the survey had asked respondents about this.

According to the results of the survey, the educational crisis is particularly acute in Germany, Malaysia, and the Netherlands. In Germany, an investigation carried out by journalists from Spiegel and published on 17 March this year, entitled “The education fiasco” (Der Schule-Fiasko), caused quite a stir: “Postponing investment in the younger generation means saving for fools”, says Aladin El-Mafaalani[7] . No one will be left behind in this major transformation”, declared Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz to the Bundestag (the German Federal Parliament) two years earlier. Unfortunately, this promise has come to nothing. In Germany, according to a 2018 OECD study, it takes 180 years on average for a student from a social class background to “approach the average income”.

To conclude in a few words, the UNICEF survey highlights not only young people’s pessimism and concern about the decline in the right to education but also and above all their unshakeable attachment to the principle of education as an inalienable human right. The pandemic has not only revealed but also aggravated these inequalities in education. The young people interviewed are well aware of the devastation caused by decades of privatization and unbridled competition in education.

[1] Article XXVI of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

[2] Delmas, Aurélie, Hadni, Dounia and Thomas, Marlène, “Tuition fees: international students testify“, Libération, 17 December 2018.

[3] World Bank, “Faced with the consequences of COVID-19 on education, we must act quickly and effectively“, World Bank, 22 January 2021.

[4] Im Eun-Byel, “New textbook guidelines spark controversy“, The Korea Herald, 1er  September 2022.

[5] This is borne out by the somewhat insistent invitation extended by French President Emmanuel Macron to Prime Minister Modi to take part in the French bank holidays celebrations on 14 July.

[6] Mansoor, Sanya, “India’s School Textbooks Are the Latest Battleground for Hindu Nationalism“, Time, 6 April 2023.

[7] Olbrisch, Miriam, “Soziologe zum Zustand der Jugend: Es ist erstaunlich, dass viele so ruhig bleiben“, Der Spiegel, 17 March 2023.

Girl’s education in South Sudan

Written by Agnes Amaral

The reality of girl’s education in South Sudan must be understood not simply in the context on lack of gender inequality but within a system of class domination based on wartime predation. South Sudan only recently gained independence in July of 2011. There are a lot of implications of wartime and post-war resource capture that overcome education infrastructure now. The civil war increased social inequality and created new social relations in which elites gained substantial power, enabling them to maintain the status quo. 

This formation illustrates how corruption became part of the political system and brought forward problems that affect today’s education system in South Sudan. Principally considering one of the main problems is that the education system is stressed by a lack of school infrastructure and teaching materials, as well as the limited number of qualified teachers. Another problem related to income inequality is the expenses the educational system does not cover. Although education is technically free, families are expected to pay additional fees if they want their children to receive an education—for example, textbooks and uniforms. 

Monica in a classroom in Oxfam’s girls’ education project, Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan. Photo by Laura Pannack, Oxfam East Africa.


Education is a key determinant for overcoming inequality on a global scale. Post civil war, South Sudan became a subsistence agriculture economy to survive. Children were included in this process and expected to work in order to maintain the household. That is a problem since they don’t have enough time to attend school and school activities. 

Half of the country’s population is in extreme poverty. Work functions as a form of immediate sustenance, taking away education as a fair opportunity. Additionally, there is a low employment in the country. For this reason, most jobs are tied to agriculture and services, children are part of this labor force.

A deficit of government investments in education also accentuates the problem in the country. Only 30% of the population can read and write, according to World Population Review in 20191.

Not only is access to education a problem but consistent enrollment of students in school. Most children cannot complete the primary school cycle. This is due to  financial difficulties and poor infrastructure. Some students must walk more than 3km a day to get to school. This makes leaving school a viable alternative.


These forms of oppression affect women even more. Many girls and women abandon school to perform a common cultural reality in this country, for example, early marriage. Gender inequality directly affects teachers too. According to UNICEF, in 2006, only seven percent of teachers were women.

South Sudan has a conservative ideology promoting the negative perception of women and girls. Women don’t have access to property ownership, and this makes marriage an option to survive. It is a cultural aspect that reflects in all spheres of South Sudanese society. Marriage confines girls into a dependency system because it is the primary source of income. They are expected to labor in domestic chores and have almost no time to dedicate to educational growth. 

Many girls spend their childhood and adolescence carrying water, cooking, cleaning and caring for babies, leaving no opportunity to study and further their education. Education is essential aspect to successfully break down these barriers. Especially an egalitarian education that reduces gender inequality.

Recently, Pope Francis spoke out about the fact that many girls do not make it to secondary education in South Sudan. “Please, protect, respect, appreciate and honor every woman, every girl, young woman, mother, and grandmother. Otherwise, there will be no future” (Reuters) The event brought together religious people and a humanitarian, Sara Beysolow Nyanti, to discuss the protection of women and girls in the country.

Education is a very important agenda. Since it is recognised as an opportunity for  girls and women to access other realities. Not only financial realities but cultural realities that evoke the gender role socially.

The leadership of women who fight for their rights is evidenced, since the challenges they all face, such as forced marriage, lack of school infrastructure, low income, etc., are varied. Although South Sudan offers free education, it is possible to conclude that there are several obstacles to improving the quality of life of these girls. Several studies show how less than half the population attended school, a number that decreases when the cut-off is by gender. Many girls work in agricultural activities to support the household. The confrontation of this problem must be thought through in several arenas. More than just guaranteeing free education, recognising and fighting child labor as a determinant of poverty is necessary. Investments in education must be recognised in the mitigation of gender inequality in order for the future generations to enjoy the benefits that education brings to society.

Educational Challenges in Nigeria

Written by Emmanuel Ayoola

Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa[i] is plagued with serious educational challenges. With over 10.5 million out-of-school children, Nigeria takes the spot as the country with the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. In fact, out of every five out-of-school children in the world, one is a Nigerian.[ii] In every sense, the situation is a crisis.

The factors responsible for the educational challenges in Nigeria are numerous and hydra-headed. From weak legislations to the scourge of conflicts and terrorism, to socio-cultural challenges, lack of inclusive policies and inadequate commitment from the government, the list is almost endless.

To start with, there is a fundamental problem with the Nigerian Constitution vis-à-vis the right to education. Despite the fact that Nigeria has ratified some of the several international instruments that provide for the right to education, its own grundnorm – the 1999 constitution (as amended) however, makes the right to education non-justiciable. Section 18 of the constitution provides that the:

  • Government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal and adequate educational opportunities at all levels.
  • Government shall promote science and technology
  • Government shall strive to eradicate illiteracy; and to this end Government shall as and when practicable provide:
  1. free, compulsory and universal primary education; b) free secondary education; c) free university education; and d) free adult literacy programme.

While the above provision may appear sufficient, however under the constitution, it is provided for as principles of state policy under chapter 2. In effect, the right to education although aptly provided for, lacks the force of law as it is not justiciable. In other words, it cannot be enforced by law. This disguised immunity that protects the government from being held accountable by right holders for the protection of the right to education contributes to the crises at hand.

Another of the challenges that education in Nigeria suffer from involves acts of terrorism that are targeted directly at educational institutions and those that are targeted at communities which in turn, impacts access to education in such communities.

Reports show that in north-east Nigeria between 2009 and 2022, more than 2,295 teachers were killed in attacks by insurgents which saw 19,000 people displaced and over 910 schools destroyed.[iii]

man in white crew neck t-shirt sitting beside man in white t-shirt

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

In 2021 alone, 25 schools were attacked and 1,440 students were abducted and 16 children killed. Attacks of this nature no doubt led to the closure of some schools. At least 619 schools were shut down in 6 states in northern Nigeria over fears of attack and this resulted into over 600,000 children losing access to education.[iv] This has been one of the most severe challenges that has confronted access to education in Nigeria.

More also, cultural and social implications impact access to education in Nigeria. Most affected in this regard, are young girls. The girl-child in Nigeria often has to contend with lack of access to education. For instance, in the north of Nigeria, practices like forced and early marriages deprive girls of access to education. Girls in the south of Nigeria, in like manner also contend with cultural practices that limits their access to education.[v] Boys suffer their own share too as they experience a high drop-out rate –especially boys in south – eastern Nigeria.[vi]

Another group of people who similarly suffer a disadvantage of lack of access to education in Nigeria are persons living with disability (PWDs). Although, Nigeria has ratified the United Nations Convention on rights of Persons with Disabilities which expressly provides that schools must be inclusive and accessible to all children living with disabilities, Nigeria has failed to meet required standards for the protection of this right. This unfortunately continues to happen in the face of its National Policy on Education and the Universal Basic Education Act which provides for inclusive and free education for all school children. PWDs suffer a lack of inclusion because most schools are not designed and managed in a manner that will be inclusive and accessible for them.[vii]

The challenges Nigeria suffer as a country cannot be discussed in isolation of the government’s responsibility and obligation to committing resources to education. Nigeria still spends below the recommended benchmark[viii] of between 15-20 percent of annual budgets on education.  In its 2022 budget, Nigeria increased its budgetary allocation for education to 7.2 percent from 5.7 percent in the previous year. While this is commendable, a lot still needs to be done by devoting more resources to educational infrastructure and generally funding education in Nigeria as a lot of schools lack infrastructure like; conducive classrooms, laboratories, libraries, toilets, electricity and  proper learning environment.[ix]


In order to address the educational challenges in Nigeria, the government must be committed to the following;

  1. Resolving the legal barrier that makes the right to education non-justiciable. The government should amend the constitution to make the right to education enforceable.
  2. In its response to armed conflicts and terrorism, the government should implement approaches that will ensure the protection of educational institutions and secure access to education for children in the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and in post-conflict settlements and communities. Strategies aimed at securing education for all should form part of the government’s overall response to such conflicts and attacks.
  3. Agencies of the government like the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Ministry of Information and Culture needs to do more in addressing the socio-cultural nuances that exclude children from access to education in some parts of the country. Nation-wide campaigns that target remote parts of the country where these cultural practices may be entrenched will go a long way in ensuring that children are able to access education.
  4. Persons living with disabilities have a right to education. Therefore, in protecting their right, the government must develop inclusive policies, programs and infrastructure that will make education both accessible and inclusive for them.

In order to improve the quality of education and make it accessible for all, the government must commit adequate resources to education in the country. A good way to start will be by implementing the UNESCO recommendation on spending 15 -20 percent of national annual budget on education.

[i] last accessed 9March 2023

[ii] UNICEF last accessed 9 March 2023

[iii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[iv] Supra 2

[v] Mohammed S.S.I (2000). Female and Girl-child education in Nigerian. In Federal Republic of Nigeria (ed), Abuja: Federal Ministry of Education.

[vi] The National Human Rights Commission <> last accessed 9 March 2023

[vii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[viii] last accessed 9 March 2023

[ix] last accessed 9 March 2023

Cover Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu on Unsplash

Le sfide del sistema educativo tedesco

Grazie al suo sistema educativo ben strutturato e severo, la Germania è considerata un Paese dagli standard accademici eccezionalmente elevati. Gli studenti sono valutati rigorosamente in ogni fase della loro istruzione, al punto che se uno studente non raggiunge i voti minimi richiesti in due o più classi, deve ripetere l’intero anno per assicurarsi di soddisfare sempre i requisiti per passare al livello successivo. L’istituzione scolastica tedesca si distingue per la sua forte stabilità occupazionale, per gli educatori qualificati e gratuiti, per i bassi tassi di disoccupazione giovanile, per le classi adattate agli stili di apprendimento dei ragazzi e per il lavoro manuale positivo. La Germania, invece, continua ad avere problemi con il suo sistema educativo.

Struttura del sistema scolastico

La Germania ha un sistema di istruzione secondaria a tre livelli che classifica gli studenti in base alle loro capacità dopo aver terminato la scuola elementare. Questo sistema determina poi se gli studenti avranno accesso o meno all’istruzione superiore. Il sistema scolastico tedesco separa gli studenti in base alle loro capacità educative e il monitoraggio inizia dalla quarta elementare, che è troppo presto.

Gli Stati tedeschi, ad eccezione della Baviera, hanno abbandonato il modello a tre percorsi: Gymnasium a orientamento accademico, Realschule a orientamento professionale e Hauptschule a orientamento professionale. A parte il Gymnasium, i tipi di scuola più comuni ora offerti sono integrati (tutti e tre i percorsi combinati), semi-integrati (Hauptschule e Realschule combinati) e cooperativi (tutti e tre i percorsi combinati) (tutti o due i percorsi combinati con il monitoraggio a partire dal sesto anno).

Inoltre, il sistema educativo a doppio binario divide gli studenti in quelli che sono considerati qualificati per l’istruzione superiore e altri che vengono indirizzati alle scuole professionali dopo aver terminato i dieci anni di scuola, con conseguenti disuguaglianze. Di conseguenza, molti studenti tedeschi abbandonano la scuola e vengono inseriti in programmi di preparazione al lavoro piuttosto che in programmi di formazione professionale. Le differenze nelle tecniche di apprendimento e di valutazione degli studenti, così come le diverse raccomandazioni di tracciamento da parte dei loro insegnanti di scuola elementare, contribuiscono alle sfide educative nell’istruzione secondaria tedesca.

L’istruzione secondaria ha un forte impatto sul percorso di carriera di una persona. Le scuole Gymnasium si rivolgono agli studenti più capaci dal punto di vista accademico e consentono di accedere all’istruzione superiore. Le scuole Realschule si rivolgono a studenti più inclini alle professioni, che portano a programmi di apprendistato, scuole tecniche e accesso ai ginnasi, e le Hauptschule a studenti con scarse capacità accademiche, problemi sociali o comportamentali. Queste costituiscono il background e il successivo punto di partenza per l’ulteriore istruzione e formazione degli studiosi tedeschi. Il sistema educativo tedesco è determinato dai singoli Stati della Germania, con conseguenti significative disparità educative.

Contesti socio-economici

In Germania, il rendimento scolastico di un bambino è intimamente legato al background dei suoi genitori e gli immigrati e i loro figli sono colpiti in modo sproporzionato dalla disuguaglianza strutturale. La disuguaglianza nel sistema scolastico tedesco è un problema ben noto. Da decenni gli studi dimostrano che gli alunni provenienti da contesti socioeconomici più privilegiati superano abitualmente i loro coetanei, anche quando hanno attitudini cognitive simili. Il sistema educativo deve affrontare la sfida di creare pari opportunità per individui con background diversi.

Nel 2018, l’UNICEF ha analizzato l’equità educativa dei bambini in età prescolare e scolare in 41 Paesi industrializzati. La Germania si è classificata al centro del gruppo, davanti a Stati Uniti e Australia, ma dietro a economie più piccole come Lituania, Danimarca e il primo Paese, la Lettonia.

Gli studenti immigrati e quelli provenienti da famiglie a basso reddito hanno anche minori probabilità di progredire nell’istruzione, poiché l’istruzione nelle aree rurali della Germania è inferiore a quella delle città. La scuola tedesca è stata anche criticata per aver creato un enorme divario nelle opportunità educative tra i bambini provenienti da famiglie benestanti e quelli svantaggiati o provenienti da famiglie di immigrati. Gli studenti provenienti da un contesto socioeconomico più elevato superano i loro coetanei di livello socioeconomico inferiore con identiche capacità cognitive e hanno anche maggiori probabilità di essere raccomandati per i percorsi educativi più elevati in Germania e di accedere alle università. I bambini provenienti da famiglie di immigrati hanno anche una probabilità quattro volte maggiore di essere colpiti da fattori di rischio sociali, finanziari ed educativi, con gli studenti provenienti dai Paesi dell’Europa occidentale/nordica che hanno una maggiore probabilità di avere una laurea rispetto agli studenti provenienti dall’Europa orientale/Turchia.

È dimostrato che i bambini provenienti da contesti turchi, curdi o arabi – conosciuti in Germania come bambini “migranti” anche se sono immigrati di seconda o terza generazione – sono rappresentati in modo sproporzionato nelle Hauptschule di livello più basso, sottoponendoli a un ciclo di emarginazione.

I bambini immigrati in Germania frequentano la Hauptschule due volte più spesso di quelli provenienti da contesti socioeconomici simili. Nonostante alcuni progressi, i bambini immigrati restano sottorappresentati nei ginnasi di livello più alto. In breve, il sistema educativo tedesco non riesce ad aiutare gli alunni a superare lo svantaggio e l’emarginazione dovuti al loro background, anche come minoranze etniche o religiose.

Diverse scuole elementari e secondarie di Berlino isolano i bambini immigrati dagli studenti di origine tedesca in classi separate, apparentemente perché le loro capacità linguistiche sono insufficienti per le classi regolari. In realtà, nonostante il fatto che parlino il tedesco come seconda lingua, le loro competenze linguistiche sono generalmente sufficienti per frequentare le classi regolari, ma fungono da proxy per la discriminazione basata sull’etnia o su altre caratteristiche discutibili. L’istruzione fornita in queste classi segregate è di gran lunga inferiore a quella fornita nelle scuole regolari. Le pratiche discriminatorie stigmatizzano gli studenti migranti, ostacolano la loro capacità di integrarsi adeguatamente e di contribuire alla società tedesca e violano i doveri della Germania ai sensi dell’articolo 26 del Patto internazionale sui diritti civili e politici, in combinazione con l’articolo 2, che vieta la discriminazione.


Scritto di Lerato Selekisho

Traduzione di Camilla Rosso



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Les défis de l’éducation dans l’État plurinational de Bolivie : des barrières éducatives à l’inadéquation des compétences


L’État plurinational de Bolivie a récemment connu plusieurs évolutions positives et négatives. L’Institut économique suisse KOF a souligné en 2019 que la Bolivie a conservé un taux moyen de croissance du produit intérieur brut (PIB) de 4,9 %, principalement grâce à ses exportations de ressources naturelles telles que l’or, le zinc, l’argent, le cuivre et les réserves de gaz naturel. Toutefois, avec un PIB de 3 117 dollars par habitant – nettement inférieur à celui de ses voisins – la Bolivie reste l’État le plus pauvre d’Amérique du Sud. L’indice du coefficient de GINI de la Banque mondiale a mis en évidence le taux élevé d’inégalité des revenus : La Bolivie a obtenu en 2016 un score de 44,6 sur 100 en matière d’égalité des revenus. 

Ces hauts et ces bas de développement sont perceptibles dans plusieurs sphères, dont celle de l’éducation. Comme le notent Andersen et al. (2020), l’éducation bolivienne manque de données statistiques car, au cours des vingt dernières années, le pays n’a pas participé aux grandes évaluations éducatives habituellement menées par des organisations internationales comme le Programme international pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA) de l’OCDE ou l’étude TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics & Science Study) de l’AIE. Les chercheurs et les responsables politiques ne savent donc pas quels sont les principaux défis en matière d’éducation et quelles solutions peuvent améliorer l’accès à une éducation de qualité pour que la Bolivie atteigne à temps le quatrième objectif de développement durable : “assurer une éducation de qualité inclusive et équitable et promouvoir des possibilités d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie pour tous”.  Pour se faire une idée plus précise de l’état de l’éducation en Bolivie et de la probabilité que les diplômés des niveaux d’éducation appropriés et supérieurs répondent aux demandes du marché du travail, il faut recueillir des informations auprès de sources diverses mais crédibles. 

Obstacles historiques à l’éducation

L’organisation « Borgen Project », qui vise à réduire la pauvreté dans le monde par le biais de la politique étrangère des États-Unis, a noté en 2015 qu’environ un étudiant sur sept en Bolivie ne termine pas ses études. Cela conduit à ce qu’une majorité d’entre eux ne commence pas l’enseignement secondaire. Bien que le taux global d’analphabétisme ait été réduit de 36,21% en 1976 à 7,54% en 2015, plus d’un million de Boliviens âgés de 15 ans et plus restent analphabètes. Quatre raisons sont avancées pour expliquer ces problèmes :   

1. Bien que la majorité des étudiants soient issus de milieux indigènes et parlent le quechua ou l’aymara à la maison, les cours sont normalement dispensés en espagnol ; 

2. Il existe toujours un écart important entre les habitants des zones rurales et ceux des zones urbaines. Les étudiants des zones rurales ne terminent en moyenne que 4,2 années d’études avant d’abandonner pour soutenir financièrement leur famille. En revanche, les élèves des zones urbaines achèvent en moyenne 9,4 années de scolarité ;

3. L’éducation ne relève pas de la compétence de l’État, ce qui se traduit par un manque de ressources pour créer un environnement propice à la poursuite d’une éducation de bonne qualité ; et

4. En lien avec le point précédent, les enseignants continuent de recevoir des salaires bas et font souvent grève, laissant les élèves sans accès à l’éducation pendant des jours ou des semaines. 

Certains des problèmes susmentionnés découlent du développement historique de l’éducation en Bolivie. Redin (2020) explique qu’après la fin de la dictature militaire, les réformes néolibérales entre 1980 et 1990 ont renforcé le soutien à la diversité ethnique mais ont réduit l’ingérence de l’État et les dépenses sociales. Cela a eu un impact considérable sur les inscriptions dans les écoles publiques. L’État a échoué dans ses tentatives de stimuler cette scolarisation en sortant les familles rurales de la pauvreté et en les encourageant à envoyer leurs enfants à l’école. Cet échec a incité les mouvements indigènes, tels que les conseils éducatifs des peuples indigènes (CEPOS), ainsi que les parents, à créer leurs propres fondations pour prendre les choses en main en donnant aux écoles et aux enseignants les moyens de dispenser une éducation de meilleure qualité, en tenant compte de la culture et de la langue indigènes et en les incorporant dûment. L’éducation s’est donc transformée en une institution privatisée gérée par la société plutôt que par l’État, en raison d’un “processus de mauvaise répartition” dans lequel les droits politiques civils ont été renforcés en échange d’efforts réduits en matière de droits sociaux.  

Accès à l’éducation et accessibilité 

Une autre caractéristique du système éducatif bolivien, relevée par l’étude qualitative de Muyor-Rodriguez et al, (2021), est que les universités publiques n’ont pas réussi à répondre aux besoins éducatifs des étudiants handicapés. Malgré l’engagement des universités publiques à fournir un accès à l’éducation à tous les étudiants dans des conditions d’égalité, les participants aux discussions de groupe ont affirmé qu’il y a un manque d’égalité de valeur dans l’éducation reçue par les étudiants handicapés en faveur de la diversité ethnique ou sexuelle, ce qui a exclu ou stéréotypé certains handicaps.  Bien que la résolution n° 9/09 de 2009 exempte les étudiants de passer des tests d’admission pour entrer dans les universités publiques, le degré d’autonomie résultant du système de co-gouvernance qui existe entre les enseignants et les étudiants, a fait que certaines universités n’ont pas appliqué cette politique.  Les participants ont également évoqué la discrimination dont ils ont été victimes de la part de professeurs qui ne faisaient pas de distinction entre les exigences éducatives des étudiants handicapés et celles des étudiants non handicapés, ainsi que les préjugés résultant du manque de ressources du personnel universitaire pour répondre à leurs besoins. L’effet cumulatif est l’inefficacité de la gestion à long terme de l’impact qu’apportent les campagnes d’inclusion. 

L’éducation depuis Evo Morales

Avec l’élection d’Evo Morales à la présidence en 2005, de nouveaux efforts ont été déployés dans le domaine de l’éducation afin de décoloniser le programme scolaire bolivien d’un “projet blanco-méstizo centré sur la science” et de l’orienter vers un “espace égal pour la science et le savoir ancestral”.  Le gouvernement a cherché à établir un équilibre qui reste axé sur le développement des compétences scientifiques tout en poursuivant l’intra-culturalité de 1994 qui conserve la ou les cultures, l’histoire et les connaissances indigènes de la société bolivienne. Ces changements ont obligé les enseignants à trouver des méthodes créatives pour équilibrer l’offre d’une éducation qui donnera aux apprenants les compétences nécessaires pour accéder à des niveaux d’éducation plus élevés et leur donnera les compétences requises pour être absorbés par le marché du travail.  

L’éducation ne répond pas aux exigences du marché du travail

Andersen et al. (2020) ont constaté l’inadéquation entre l’éducation et les compétences exigées par le marché du travail, qui a fait que de nombreux diplômés n’ont pas réussi à récolter les fruits de leur éducation entre 2007 et 2017.  Leur analyse souligne que les personnes particulièrement touchées par les failles systémiques de l’éducation sont les hommes urbains non indigènes, qui sont restés sans répartition appropriée des revenus tout au long des 15 premières années d’éducation. Le factbook du KOF établit qu’une grande partie de la population active bolivienne travaille dans les secteurs primaires de l’agriculture, de la chasse, de la sylviculture et de la pêche, ainsi que dans les secteurs secondaires de la fabrication, de la construction, de l’exploitation minière et des activités industrielles, soit respectivement 27,4 % et 22,6 %.  Cette situation est la conséquence de ce que l’on appelle le “super cycle des produits de base”, qui a augmenté la demande des produits de base d’exportation de la Bolivie, mentionnés ci-dessus, ce qui a conduit les jeunes hommes à abandonner l’école pour profiter des bénéfices de ces industries. En outre, il a déclenché ce que l’on appelle le “syndrome hollandais” dans le secteur de la construction.  Cela a créé un cercle vicieux de prix élevés des produits de base, conduisant à davantage de développement foncier qui, à son tour, nécessite davantage de travailleurs, qui s’appuient sur la formation en cours d’emploi plutôt que sur l’obtention de niveaux d’éducation particuliers. Ainsi, un marché du travail exigeant des travailleurs équipés se crée, préférant l’expérience pratique aux connaissances théoriques.  L’une des principales préoccupations de cette inadéquation est le taux accru de fuite des cerveaux en Bolivie. En 2015, 799 605 Boliviens (environ 7,5 % de la population nationale) ont émigré, soit pour poursuivre des études supérieures, soit pour récolter les fruits de l’éducation qu’ils ont déjà reçue. Par conséquent, la Bolivie perd les bénéfices des connaissances et des compétences acquises par ses étudiants. 

L’apparition de la pandémie de Covid-19 sert de multiplicateur de force pour ces problèmes existants. Comme l’indique le rapport national 2020 du Fonds des Nations unies pour l’enfance (UNICEF), 2,9 millions d’enfants au total n’ont plus accès à l’éducation et aux systèmes de soutien nutritionnel fournis par leurs écoles. La pandémie a également mis en évidence la fracture numérique entre les populations urbaines et rurales, car il est essentiel de disposer d’une connexion internet stable pour accéder aux services éducatifs virtuels. 



L’avenir de l’éducation en Bolivie

Le gouvernement bolivien a fait des efforts pour améliorer l’état de l’éducation, comme le montrent les exemples suivants :  

1. Il a supprimé, d’ici 2017, l’écart de scolarisation entre l’enseignement primaire et secondaire en fonction du revenu, du sexe ou de l’origine ethnique ; 

2. Il a triplé le nombre d’enseignants disponibles entre 2000 et 2017. Il y a désormais un enseignant pleinement qualifié pour 24 écoliers ; 

3. 39% de tous les Boliviens ont été investis dans une forme d’éducation formelle en 2017 ; et 

4. La base de données des indicateurs d’éducation de l’UNESCO explique que le gouvernement a investi en moyenne 7 % de son PIB dans l’éducation. Cela montre l’engagement du gouvernement à garantir l’accès à une éducation gratuite et publique de première qualité qui tient compte de la diversité et offre des chances et des avantages égaux sans discrimination. 


Les étudiants boliviens se préparent aux changements des facteurs externes qui régissent le cycle des matières premières en Bolivie. Comme l’ont déclaré Andersen et al., “il est certainement préférable d’opter pour une éducation trop importante plutôt que trop faible”.  

Le gouvernement bolivien doit harmoniser ses ressources avec le secteur privé et d’autres parties prenantes nationales afin d’améliorer la qualité de l’éducation reçue et les retours nécessaires du marché du travail qui favorisent un système éducatif qui ajoute de la valeur et, à son tour, crée de la valeur pour l’État et les Boliviens en général. Ce cycle positif de développement aiderait également la Bolivie à atteindre ses autres cibles des ODD, notamment l’élimination de toutes les formes de pauvreté, la création d’opportunités de travail décent, la promotion d’une croissance économique durable et inclusive, et la réduction des niveaux d’inégalité avec les autres États.


Traduction de Serena Bassi

Written by Karl Baldacchino

Edited by Farai Chikwanha and Olga Ruiz Pilato





[i] KOF Swiss Economic Institute (2019) ‘KOF Education System Factbook: Bolivia’. KOF Education System Factbooks: Zurich, 1st Ed., pp. 3-5.

[ii] Andersen, L. E. et al. (2020) ‘Occasional Paper Series No. 63 – A Country at Risk of Being Left Behind: Bolivia’s Quest for Quality Education’. Southern Voices, p. 11.

[iii] United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs. ‘Goal 4’. Available online from: [Accessed on 28/02/2022].

[iv] Binns, M. (2015) ‘Top 4 Reasons Education in Bolivia Lags’. The Borgen Project. Available online from: [Accessed on 28/02/2022].

[v] Muyor-Rodriguez, J. et al. (2021) ‘Inclusive University Education in Bolivia: The Actors and Their Discourses’. Sustainability, Vol. 13. Available online from: [Accessed on 28/02/2022], p. 2.

[vi] ‘Top 4 Reasons Education in Bolivia Lags’.

[vii] Redin, M. C. B. (2020) ‘Dilemmas of Justice in the Post-Neoliberal Educational Policies of Ecuador and Bolivia’.  Policy Futures in Education, Vol. 18(1), pp. 53-56.

[viii] Ibid., p.58.

[ix] ‘Inclusive University Education in Bolivia’, p. 3.

[x] Ibid., pp. 8-10.

[xi] Ibid., pp. 4 & 9-10 & 12.

[xii] Ibid., pp. 13-14.

[xiii] Ibid., pp. 58-59.

[xiv] Ibid., p. 61.

[xv] ‘A Country at Risk of Being Left Behind’, pp. 15-16.

[xvi] ‘KOF Factbooks’, p. 4.

[xvii] ‘A Country at Risk of Being Left Behind’, pp. 19-20.

[xviii] Ibid., p. 27.

[xix] Ibid., p. 21.

[xx] United Nations Children’s Fund (2020) ‘Country Office Annual Report 2020 – Bolivia, Plurinational State of’, p. 1.

[xxi] ‘A Country at Risk of Being Left Behind’, pp. 27-29.

[xxii] Ibid., p. 29.

[xxiii] Ibid., pp. 22-26.

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Les défis du système éducatif allemand

Les défis du système éducatif allemand 

En raison de son système éducatif bien structuré et rigoureux, l’Allemagne est considérée comme ayant des normes académiques exceptionnellement élevées. Les étudiants sont rigoureusement évalués à chaque étape de leur éducation, au point que si un étudiant ne parvient pas à obtenir les notes minimales requises dans deux classes ou plus, il doit redoubler toute l’année pour s’assurer qu’il remplit toujours les conditions requises pour passer au niveau de classe suivant. L’établissement d’enseignement allemand se distingue par sa forte stabilité d’emploi, ses éducateurs qualifiés gratuits, ses faibles chiffres de chômage des jeunes, ses cours adaptés aux styles d’apprentissage des enfants et son travail manuel positif. Toutefois, l’Allemagne continue d’avoir des problèmes avec son système éducatif.

Structure du système scolaire 

L’Allemagne dispose d’un système d’enseignement secondaire à trois niveaux qui classe les élèves en fonction de leurs aptitudes à la fin de l’école primaire. Ce système détermine ensuite si les élèves auront accès à l’enseignement supérieur ou non. Ce système éducatif sépare les élèves en fonction de leurs aptitudes scolaires, et le suivi commence dès la 4e année, ce qui est beaucoup trop tôt. 

Les États allemands, à l’exception de la Bavière, ont abandonné le modèle à trois voies : Gymnasium à orientation académique, Realschule à orientation professionnelle et Hauptschule à orientation professionnelle. En dehors du Gymnasium, les types d’écoles les plus courants sont désormais intégrés (les trois voies combinées), semi-intégrés (Hauptschule et Realschule combinées) et coopératifs (les trois voies combinées) (toutes les voies ou deux voies combinées avec un suivi à partir de la 6e année).

En outre, ce système éducatif à double voie divise les élèves entre ceux qui sont considérés comme qualifiés pour l’enseignement supérieur et les autres qui sont dirigés vers des écoles professionnelles après avoir terminé dix ans d’école, ce qui entraîne des inégalités. En conséquence, de nombreux élèves allemands abandonnent l’école et sont placés dans des programmes de préparation à l’emploi plutôt que dans des programmes de formation professionnelle. Des différences dans les techniques d’apprentissage et de notation des élèves, ainsi que des recommandations de suivi variables de la part de leurs enseignants de l’école élémentaire, contribuent aux difficultés éducatives dans l’enseignement secondaire allemand.

L’enseignement secondaire a un impact majeur sur le parcours professionnel d’une personne. Les écoles Gymnasium accueillent les élèves les plus doués sur le plan scolaire, ce qui leur permet d’accéder à l’enseignement supérieur. Les écoles Realschule accueillent les élèves plus orientés vers la profession, ce qui leur permet d’accéder aux programmes d’apprentissage, aux écoles techniques et aux Gymnasiums. Enfin, les écoles Hauptschule accueillent les élèves ayant de faibles aptitudes scolaires ou des problèmes sociaux ou comportementaux. Ces établissements constituent le contexte et le point de départ ultérieur de l’éducation et de la formation des universitaires allemands. Le système éducatif allemand est déterminé par les différents États allemands, ce qui entraîne d’importantes disparités en matière d’éducation.

Milieu socio-économique 

En Allemagne, les résultats scolaires d’un enfant sont intimement liés à l’origine de ses parents, les immigrants et leurs enfants étant affectés de manière disproportionnée par les inégalités structurelles. L’inégalité dans le système éducatif allemand est un problème bien connu. Des études montrent depuis des décennies que les élèves issus de milieux socio-économiques plus favorisés obtiennent régulièrement de meilleurs résultats que leurs camarades, même s’ils ont des aptitudes cognitives similaires. Ces enfants ont plus de chances d’être recommandés pour les meilleures filières éducatives du pays et d’entrer à l’université. Le système éducatif est confronté au défi de créer une égalité des chances pour les individus issus de milieux différents. 

En 2018, l’UNICEF s’est penché sur l’équité éducative des enfants d’âge préscolaire et scolaire dans 41 pays industrialisés. L’Allemagne a été classée au centre du groupe, devant les États-Unis et l’Australie, mais derrière des économies plus petites comme la Lituanie, le Danemark et le pays numéro un, la Lettonie.

Les élèves immigrés et les élèves issus de ménages à faibles revenus ont également moins de chances de progresser dans leur éducation, car l’éducation dans les zones rurales d’Allemagne est en retard sur celle des villes. L’enseignement allemand a également été critiqué pour avoir créé d’énormes fossés en matière d’opportunités éducatives entre les enfants de familles aisées et les enfants défavorisés/enfants de familles immigrées. Les élèves issus de milieux socio-économiques plus élevés obtiennent de meilleurs résultats que leurs camarades issus de milieux socio-économiques moins élevés, à capacités cognitives identiques, et ils ont également plus de chances d’être recommandés pour les filières d’enseignement les plus élevées en Allemagne et d’entrer dans des universités. Les enfants issus de familles migrantes sont également quatre fois plus susceptibles d’être affectés par des facteurs de risque sociaux, financiers et éducatifs, les élèves des pays d’Europe occidentale/nord ayant une probabilité plus élevée d’obtenir un diplôme universitaire que les élèves d’Europe orientale/Turquie.

Il est prouvé que les enfants d’origine turque, kurde ou arabe – connus en Allemagne sous le nom d’enfants “migrants”, même s’ils sont des immigrants de deuxième ou troisième génération – sont représentés de manière disproportionnée dans les Hauptschule de niveau inférieur, ce qui les soumet à un cycle de marginalisation. 

En Allemagne, les enfants migrants fréquentent la Hauptschule deux fois plus souvent que ceux issus de milieux socio-économiques similaires. Malgré certains progrès, les enfants migrants restent sous-représentés dans les gymnases les plus élevés. En bref, le système éducatif allemand n’aide pas les élèves à surmonter les désavantages et la marginalisation résultant de leur origine, y compris en tant que minorités ethniques ou religieuses.

Plusieurs écoles primaires et secondaires de Berlin isolent les enfants migrants des élèves allemands de naissance dans des classes séparées, ostensiblement parce que leurs compétences en allemand sont insuffisantes pour les classes normales. En fait, malgré le fait qu’ils parlent l’allemand comme deuxième langue, leurs compétences linguistiques sont généralement suffisantes pour les classes régulières, mais elles fonctionnent comme un proxy pour la discrimination basée sur l’ethnicité ou d’autres caractéristiques discutables. L’éducation dispensée dans ces classes ségréguées est bien inférieure à celle dispensée dans les écoles ordinaires. Les pratiques discriminatoires stigmatisent les élèves migrants, entravent leur capacité à s’intégrer correctement et à contribuer à la société allemande, et violent les obligations de l’Allemagne en vertu de l’article 26 du PIDCP, lu conjointement avec l’article 2, qui interdit la discrimination.


Written by Lerato Selekisho

Translated bu Serena Bassi



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Universal Periodic Review of Romania

  • This report was drafted by Broken Chalk to contribute to the fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Romania. Broken Chalk is an Amsterdam-based NGO focused on human rights violations in the field of education. Since Broken Chalk is an organization fighting inequalities and improving the quality of education worldwide, this report focuses on human rights, especially with regards to education.
  • This report first explores the main issues in education in Romania, the recommendations Romania received in the last review and its progress since 2018. Then, Broken Chalk offers some practical recommendations to Romania to further improve human rights in education.
  • In the last review, Romania received 203 recommendations and accepted 163. 26% of the recommendations focused on reducing inequalities and 14% were linked to inclusive quality education and lifelong learning. Romania has submitted a voluntary midterm report about the implementation of the accepted recommendations received in the 3rd cycle of the UPR.
  • Quality education is a vital pillar of society. It enables long-term growth and development, helps the integration of minorities and foreigners, and shapes the people of future society. According to the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, Romania is doing 65% of what it could possibly do with its national income when it comes to ensuring the right to education[i]. With this score, Romania is the last one of all European countries.

by Réka Gyaraki

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[i] Human Rights Measurement Initiative. (2022). Rights to Education

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