50th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Education


June 23rd, 2022: Special Report on Education

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. The report was drafted by Brenda De Oliveira on June 28th, 2022.

Composition of the HRC

Main Report

The President opened the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Ms Kombou Boly Barry, on the 23rd of June 2022.

Madam Kombou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, informed that she will be leaving her mandate on August 1st to a successor. She mentioned that the Covid crisis, the climate crisis, the various conflicts, and the drastic reductions in academic freedoms have impacted education heavily. She called on all states and actors to implement the right to education, to make it the center of their concerns, and to commit to free-of-charge primary and secondary education for all. She is particularly concerned on the impact of terrorism on the right of education in the sahel countries. She also addressed the risks and limits of the digitalization of education since Covid. Her recommendation is for states to commit to give every person the right to public, free, quality education online as more than half future jobs will require the use of digital technologies. She organized six online experts' meetings to discuss various aspects of the impact of the digitalization of education on the right to education, in cooperation with the Network for international policies and cooperation in education and training from the Geneva Graduate Institute (NORRAG). She emphasized that technology is just a tool and not a solution for future problems. Investing in digitalization also means investing in teachers that are able to invest in those digital tools. Commercialization in education is closely linked to digitalization which leads to fragmentation of educational services and inequalities. She recommends the introduction of carefully considered and age-appropriate digital technology based around the learner, to broaden the notion of the right to education to include digital competencies and the digitalization as a way to support the right of education, the right of information and cultural rights, the rights of freedom of expression and opinion, the right to academic freedom and involvement of teachers and learners, the right to privacy, the right to health, the right to food and to a decent environment. We need laws that specifically protect the privacy of children and their data.

Statements by States and International Organizations

Finland (on behalf of nordic and baltic of countries) stressed the importance of ensuring that digital learning is safe and doesn't discriminate anyone, particularly girls and women, minorities, sexual minorities, and vulnerable persons. Finland also asked the Special Rapporteur what should be done to ensure women and girls enjoy full and equal access to quality digital learning opportunities.

The European Union supported the Special Rapporteur's call to focus on inclusive and equitable education. The European Union mentioned that education should be seen as an opportunity to facilitate the learning and participation of disabled persons. The European Union also asked the Special Rapporteur if she could explain how states should fully consider the human rights legal trademark and gender equality perspective, and how they can integrate it in their respective plans for digital education.

Côte d'Ivoire (on behalf of the African Group) declared that digital technologies can bring advantages but cannot alone resolve the numerous problems that education systems now face. Côte d'Ivoire deplored the fact that digitalization of education is limited and even absent in many areas, as there are high disparities between rural and urban regions in terms of access to digitalization.

United Arab Emirates (on behalf of group of countries) agreed to the importance of ensuring at least twelve years of education for all girls and are concerned this is far from realized. The United Arab Emirates stressed the need to protect the right to education of girls in vulnerable situations, including conflict, migration and poverty, and those who are victims of trafficking. They also underlined the importance of adopting inclusive policies for girls already married or pregnant.

Belgium (on behalf of group of countries) declared that the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) had created a free educational portal which provides practices for teachers and students in order to integrate gender equality in their curriculum. The OIF also welcomed the fact that the Special Rapporteur's report supports the integration of local languages in digital education as OIF continues to take into account African languages in teaching, articulating this with French, which allows high quality education.

Kazakhstan (on behalf of a group of the turkic countries) attached great importance to the field of education as it is a driving force for social change, economic development and welfare, as well as an important tool in promoting and training consciousness among common languages, history and cultural values among the young generations of the turkic world.

Qatar adopted digital education to help students in an effective and integrated manner in order to promote all layers of education. Within Covid-19, Qatar's education ministry launched a remote education system using five different portals, one under the slogan "remote education and the future of Qatar", in order to guarantee the continuation of education.

Slovenia agreed with the Special Rapporteur that education must address availability, accessibility and adaptability. Slovenia deplored the digital divide between rural and urban areas. Slovenia recently introduced free digital courses to help everyone, including youth, with their level of digital literacy. Slovenia also asked the Special Rapporteur how youth can help educational institutions in providing better infrastructures and inclusive environments.

UNWomen recognized digital technology as a tool for empowering women. UNWomen highlighted that hundreds of millions of women have had their education cut short due to poverty, cultural norms, conflict and other crises. UNWomen worked with local partners to implement educational programs that fill out this gap.

UNICEF stated that more than 250 million children globally remain out of school and that, during the pandemic, hundreds of millions of children have been disconnected from their schools and teachers. UNICEF called on all states to improve the effectiveness of digital learning by both generating and leveraging evidence and innovation and by keeping learners, teachers and parents at the center.

The United Arab Emirates informed that they placed a high priority on smart education in order to create a modern environment in line with the development of new technologies. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Arab Emirates deployed age-appropriate remote technologies in the private and public sectors as well as in all universities.

Israel called on all states to prioritize digitalization while ensuring that all children have access to technologies adequate to their needs and potential. Israel established a call center, operating 24/7, to respond to cases of assault and harmful practices against children online, especially within social media. Israel also asked the Special Rapporteur what steps can states take in order to include parents and families in the process of digital education and inclusion of children.

France aligned itself with the statements of the European Union. France expressed that through digital technologies, pupils can have greater access to information and can voice their opinions, which contributes to their becoming future citizens. France also mentioned the importance of better training students and teachers on the use of digital tools. France also asked the SR how states can guarantee that the digitalizing of education is not prejudicial to the individual and their personal data.

Ecuador reminded all states that digitalization in education must not make any inequalities greater but rather assist and be available to all, in particular to the most vulnerable groups. In order to combat these inequalities, Ecuador created a digital education agenda from 2021 to 2025 that makes it possible to plan, conduct, and assess strategies and actions to develop inclusive and non-discriminatory digital learning.

Libya aligned itself with the statements by their regional group. Libya emphasized on its country's great disparities between cities and rural areas in regard to digital education. Libya

expressed their need to focus on basic infrastructures including electricity and internet. Libya also encouraged all states to create information centers that allow online learning.

Senegal shared the Special Rapporteur's concern around the digitalization of education. Senegal believes that the introduction of digital technologies should be done in respect to the right to free and quality public education in line with international obligations and international human rights. Senegal also recognized that digitalization cannot replace physical education and that students must be protected.

Maurice aligned itself with the statement delivered by Cote d'Ivoire on behalf of the African group. Maurice made sure to provide free education to all and equip primary and secondary schools with hotspots and IT equipment. During the lockdown, Maurice's schooling was conducted online through zoom platforms. Maurice asked the Special Rapporteur how to increase connectivity and access in education.

Luxembourg fully supported the statement by the European Union. Luxembourg called on all states to be aware of their obligations and responsibilities in education as well as to ensure that human rights, including the right of privacy, are respected in education. During the lockdown, Luxembourg launched an online platform for all in order to ensure the essential characteristics of education, namely accessibility, adaptability, acceptability.

Iraq emphasized the need to ensure the right to education and called on all states to combat illiteracy and ignorance. During the pandemic, Iraq condemned the fact that schools and universities were among the first institutions to close, which gave rise to unprecedented challenges to governments, teachers, students and parents. To ensure continuous education, Iraq launched digital platforms and provided free internet to the students who needed it.

Djibouti promoted social inclusion, equality and quality education for all through the provision of technology and smart classes in primary, secondary and higher education. Djibouti recognized that the digitalization of education could deepen pre-existing inequalities between the most privileged and underprivileged. Djibouti thus asked the Special Rapporteur to give a few examples of the best practices that could mitigate the effects of this digital divide.

Cuba agreed with the Special Rapporteur that the digital gap must be reduced in all states as the polarization of wealth and equality have a direct impact on the capacity to promote digitalization education, particularly in developing countries. During the pandemic, Cuba maintained distance learning. When in person teaching reopened, all children had been immunized with Covid vaccine.

Bangladesh placed great importance on ensuring free education for all and on training teachers in conducting classes with digital tools. To do so, Bangladesh distributed free textbooks to their students and launched an educational program for students with disabilities to facilitate their involvement. Bangladesh also specifically facilitated learning activities for the Royinga children

in the Rohingya camps of Bangladesh and introduced a mother-tongue based education system for ethnic children.

Paraguay stated that digitalization should be examined carefully in various local contexts with a special emphasis on marginalized populations. Paraguay also mentioned that it must be ensured that digital education is age adapted, appropriate for development, and free from harmful use. Paraguay plans to elaborate a new education scheme based on quality, access and inclusion following the Special Rapporteur's recommendations.

Morocco announced that its national ministry of education worked with various different partners, in particular public and private, in order to distribute computers, smart phones, tablets, chargers, prepaid cards, for the benefit of more than 13 000 students in rural zones. Morocco asked the Special Rapporteur what special national measures can be taken to better prevent negative psychological impacts for children in the context of emergencies such as pandemics.

Lithuania condemned the recent education amendment in Belarus, which violates the educational and linguistic rights of the lithuanian students living in Belarus. Lithuania deplored the fact that schools of Lithuanian national minorities in Belarus, which are supported by grants from the lithuanian government, are forced to change the language of instruction from lithuanian to belarussian or russian.

Venezuela informed all states that its constitution places education as a human right and a fundamental social duty as education is democratic, free and mandatory. Venezuela also established physical, cultural and economical access to digital education infrastructures and new technologies.

Bahrain agreed to provide digital education to guarantee quality in the educational system using modern technologies guaranteeing access for all. Bahrain was able to overcome the effect of the pandemic on education based on the royal project on schools for the future and provided all public schools with digital education tools.

The Russian Federation supported the position of the Special Rapporteur in creating state-education systems which are free and of equal access. Russia welcomed the Special Rapporteur's attention to protection of data and is convinced that this is a topical issue in the digitalization of education, affecting the protection of the personal data of minors.

Thailand held a conference earlier this month where the digital transformation of education was mentioned. Thailand reiterated their interest in ensuring inclusivity and quality-education for all as well as to make good use of the availability and accessibility of technology for people of all ages.

Maldives stated that they were able to quickly launch online courses and maintain the continuity of teaching and learning during the lockdown. In order to reach the most vulnerable, the minister

of education provided 5gb of mobile data to all students and teachers for 30 days. Pre-recorded lessons were also broadcasted on television.

Malaysia launched a digital educational learning initiative, an online learning platform to continue to provide quality education to students. Education was provided through TV to ensure that no one was left behind during the pandemic.

Egypt launched an education project and strengthened its educational infrastructures to accelerate the teaching processes of students at home. Egypt also looks forward to receiving the Special Rapporteur and making every effort to ensure that the visit is successful.

China took steps towards building a quality education system which is more inclusive and equitable. China shared that the Internet access rates in Chinese primary and secondary schools had reached 100% and more than 98% of them had multimedia classrooms. China also expressed that its country will continue to promote digital education as well as foster an online learning space where resources are shared in an open and equitable way.

India anchored its laws and policies in promoting the values of equality, social justice and democracy through inclusive education. During the pandemic, India launched an online program and QR coded textbooks for all grades. India also asked the Special Rapporteur what are the best practices available to build technology literacy among students beyond the educational institutions

Vietnam announced that it had encouraged various measures to prevent disruption of educational activity during the pandemic. To do so, Vietnam protected the right to education for children by switching to online quality education in order to facilitate lifelong learning and ensure progress for all.

The Republic of Korea implemented national policies during the pandemic to ensure the continuity of education. For example, the Republic of Korea developed e-learning programs and even leased tech equipment to low income families free of charge. The Republic of Korea asked the SR how the public and the private sector can collaborate better since technology companies are becoming increasingly important actors in the delivery of education.

Nepal guaranteed the right of access to basic and free education to all students by conducting online or hybrid classes during Covid-19. Nepal called on all states to provide high quality education to all citizens, refugees and migrants as well. Nepal also reminded all states that the right to education is a fundamental pillar on which human rights are based.

Italy aligned itself with the European Union's statements. While digital education cannot replace face to face education, Italy stated that the introduction and use of digital technology in a learning focused and age appropriate way can improve the availability and accessibility of quality education for all. Italy committed to align with the 2030 agenda and particularly with the SDG number four.

The Holy See stated that while distance learning has enabled millions of children worldwide to continue their education, countless other children did not have access to such technology which widened the digital divide. The Holy See also stressed that distance learning should never become a long term solution, much less a total substitution for face to face education, as children need human interaction.

Kenya agreed with the African group's statements. Kenys also affirmed that its government continues to invest in educational infrastructures, needs and technical training to support the digital education system, in order to close the digital divide in rural areas and to improve access to quality teaching and learning for all.

Portugal aligned itself with the European Union's statements. Portugal agreed with the Special Rapporteur that digital technologies have their limits compared to traditional education. In Portugal, an action plan for digital transition in 2021 was adopted to encourage digital inclusion, promote gender equality in the digital world, and prepare students for an increasingly digital labor market while minimizing the impact of COVID in schools.

Afghanistan deplored the fact that its own country is the only one in the world to deny girls access to education. Afghanistan reported that female students had been turned away from gates of schools at gunpoint by the Taliban on the 23rd March 2020. Afghanistan thus asked the Special Rapporteur what could ensure not only the immediate opening of schools for girls of all ages, but also the guarantee of quality education.

Georgia reiterated its concern regarding the suffering created by the unprovoked and premeditated attacks from Russia. Georgia emphasized on the fact that the military attacks against schools represent a flagrant violation of the international humanitarian law and human rights law. Georgia thus underlined that the interference of Russia in certain regions has not only made Georgia and other countries extremely vulnerable but also threatened children's rights to receive full education.

South Africa aligned itself with the African group statements. South Africa declared that when schools shifted to an online learning format during Covid-19, many students struggled not just academically, but also due to the lack of access to the internet and lack of suitable devices. South Africa thus concluded that while digital technologies in education can bring important benefits, they cannot on their own solve the main issues faced by the education system.

Bolivia stated that the UNDP is working with Bolivian agencies in order to foster new and basic digital tools in the area of robotics and electronics as well as to strengthen the abilities in the use of machinery and digital tools for all. This has allowed Bolivia to construct an educational system which is inclusive and pertinent, focusing on social movements, indigenous people, teachers, mothers and fathers and the educational community in general.

The Lao PDR is committed to the realization of the right to education for its people, which is guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. Recently, the Lao PDR focused on implementing the

education and sport sector development plan 2021 to 2025 as well as the National Human Resources Development Strategy 2025 to advance the quality of education at all levels while creating conditions for access to education, especially in rural and remote areas.

Armenia declared that the war by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh in September 2020 has created new challenges which affected the safety, availability and accessibility of the right to education for Armenian students. Armenia deplored that about 30,000 children and students were deprived of the right to education, 12 kindergartens and 71 schools were damaged or destroyed. The Ministry of Education of Armenia adjusted online educational programs to ensure that the affected children get access to basic social and child protection services, mental health and psychosocial support.

Pakistan agreed with the Special Rapporteur that digital technology has generated opportunities as well as multiple challenges. Pakistan also shared its concern regarding certain potential negative impacts of the digitalization of education. Pakistan then called on all states to respect the principle of universality, inclusivity and equality as it is essential to ensure inclusive digitalization of education for all.

The Republic of Benin emphasized on the fact that its country has not only promoted wider use of digital technology and online education training, but has also invested in these areas in order to connect primary secondary tertiary institutions to broadband internet and to build multimedia rooms in schools.

Yemen accused the Houthi militia of using national schools as targets and deplored the fact that it is using children as soldiers, as it impedes them from enjoying their right to education. Yemen declared national resources to be insufficient for paying teachers. Yemen then asked the Human Rights Council to condemn such practices, which go against all human rights and to call on the Houthi militia to respect the rights of children and especially their right to education.

Mali emphasized on the importance of ensuring that all those who are marginalized and excluded from the right to education have access to digital learning platforms in order to reduce inequalities. Mali stated that Africa is moving forward with digital inclusion and is opening up their pedagogical horizons, which will lead African people to global integration.

Ukraine announced that since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many educational institutions have been damaged or entirely destroyed, nearly 25,000 teachers fled Ukraine and nearly two thirds of Ukraine's children have either been displaced or fled across borders as refugees. Fortunately, despite school's closure, millions of Ukrainian children have been able to access online learning due to the digitalization efforts of the Ukrainian government. As distance learning is of critical value to ensure ukrainian's right to education during the war, Ukraine thanked all partners who provided and continue to provide financial and technical support.

Côte d'Ivoire called on all states to take the necessary measures to protect the digital area and the right to education for all while contributing to reducing the negative impact of this

technology. Côte d'Ivoire also asked the Special Rapporteur how to act in order to ensure that digital technology does not dehumanize our society which is already in a fragile state, especially after various issues such as COVID-19.

Gabon aligned itself with a statement by the African group. Gabon stated that the introduction of digital teaching involves risks, including the increasing of stereotypes and inequalities, which can have damaging effects on the right to education and other human rights. In this light, Gabon has promoted school education for all and for all social levels, especially during the pandemic. Gabon also asked the SR what are the solutions to ensure inclusiveness in digital education.

Azerbaijan declared that digitalization and innovation are key elements of Azerbaijan socio economic development' strategy. Thus, Azerbaijan's Ministry of Education collaborated with international organizations and public communities in order to publish websites, age-appropriate mobile applications, and to organize training on safe and effective use of the Internet for students, parents and teachers.

Cambodia announced that it has shaped more resilient digital education systems in both formal and non formal settings. Cambodia also supported high speed internet and expects to have internet assets in remote villages and districts by 2027. Since the pandemic, Cambodia has created a variety of distant learning programs through social media platforms, television and radio.

The United States of America declared that its country is working to close the digital divide and to support learning along with digital literacy skills by ensuring all families have access to affordable, reliable high speed internet services and devices. The United States of America reminded all states that it is important that digital education works to reduce education inequalities and to support educators providing these learning opportunities in order to protect users against online harassment and abuse. The United States of America also urged the Taliban to allow women and girls back in school at all levels to receive a full education.

Burkina Faso stated that, during the pandemic, it adopted a response plan for continuity in education. The implementation of this plan involved not just the launching of a web platform, but also the dissemination of pedagogical resources on radio, television and online press. Burkina Faso also encouraged states to respect the Abidjan principles, especially through the adoption and application of regulatory measures to ensure the implementation of the right to education, especially where private entities are involved.

UNESCO expressed its commitment to digital transformation of education which is one of the action steps of the upcoming transforming education standards. UNESCO also declared that it will continue to monitor the evolution of the right to education, to engage in policy debates and to develop tools and guidance to make digital technology a tool for human centered education.

Indonesia stated that it allocated a minimum of 20% of its budget for education at both national and regional level, providing 12 years mandatory education as well as early childhood education

program and non-formal education. During the COVID 19 pandemic, as educational activities became digitalized, Indonesia sought solutions to fulfill the right of education for all students by providing internet network support and technical support to improve digital literacy for teachers and students.

The Bahamas positively noted the recommendations offered to states to ensure that the digitalization of education does not widen inequalities nor lead to violations of other human rights. The Bahamas therefore invested in teachers recruitment, as well as in the construction of additional physical schools to meet existing human capital and infrastructural needs and in order to fill the gap of digital education. The Bahamas also asked the Special Rapporteur how digital technologies can be best harnessed to help states shift from crisis response to learning recovery.

Niger emphasized that the digitalization of education presents significant advantages, particularly during periods when the educational system is experiencing serious challenges, such as climate change and the COVID 19 pandemic. Niger also reminded all states of its disadvantages, as energy shortcomings and low financial resources undermined the access to digital technologies. Niger took a number of steps to ensure access to digital education, in particular by creating a digital program aimed to support children who cannot come to schools for security reasons.

The Republic of Bulgaria aligned with the European Union statements. The Republic of Bulgaria assured that ensuring access to quality education and encouraging children to attend school regularly is vital for their full development and their successful future realizations and social inclusion. In the period 2020-2022, the Republic of Bulgaria stressed that learning in a digital environment was an everyday experience for most of Bulgaria's youth. Still, the country deplored that some pupils and students could not be covered due to insufficient technical means which increased dropouts, especially for children from vulnerable groups.

Mauritania aimed to combat digital illiteracy and to strengthen the resilience of the educational sector. Mauritania also called on all of the international community to reflect more deeply on digital education and on how to strengthen and introduce digital technology in education in least developed countries and developing countries.

Ireland recognized that digital technologies played an instrumental role in the delivery of educational services during COVID-19 lockdowns, offering many students the opportunity to continue their studies remotely to ensure continuity in education. Ireland acknowledged the efforts needed domestically to address the role of digitalization in potentially exacerbating existing inequalities, particularly those based on socio economic status.

UNHCR stated that the COVID 19 pandemic highlighted the negative effects of the digital divide on access to education of impoverished and marginalized communities, deepening learning poverty. UNHCR estimated that during school closures 78% of all refugee children were not learning, as refugee families often did not have access to digital devices, or were hosted in

areas with limited connectivity. UNHCR encouraged the international community to expand refugees' access to education in ways that ensure their safety protection and offer a foundation for future social and economic participation.

Iran explained that the right to education for everyone without discrimination is explicitly guaranteed under Iran's constitution. Iran thus assured that all iranian citizens were provided with free education up to secondary school. It also stated that since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, schools in Iran shifted to remote learning, with classes held online. Finally, Iran asked the Special Rapporteur how to close the digital gap in the field of education in targeted developing countries.

Tunisia reminded all states that education is connected to human rights and is essential to preserve human dignity and ensure social progress, development and democracy. As internet connections are essential for accessing digital content, Tunisia shared that it improved its distance learning by establishing virtual schools as well as televised teaching to ensure the rights of all to education.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation stressed that the use of digital technologies must not add to the existing inequalities amongst the rich and poor. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also stated that a better implementation of the right to education brings added value to all segments of society, and particularly to those in vulnerable situations such as women, children, refugees and victims of foreign occupation and armed conflicts.

Timor Leste shared that its country strongly believed that the use of technology in the education sector must be accompanied by a prior ethical pedagogical reflection to avoid the digital divide and ensure equity and inclusiveness. During the pandemic, Timor Leste implemented educational programs on television and radio programs for students who lived in rural and remote areas.

Ghana recognized the importance and value of education, as it is a critical tool for national development. The country also deplored that its educational system had been hit by the ramification of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the Ghanaian government put in place several measures to mitigate these challenges.

Poland asked for the Special Rapporteur's attention on the situation of the Polish minority in Belarus. In recent months, Poland noticed an accelerated process of suppression of the Polish language's education in Belarus. Poland condemned these actions by the Belarusian authorities, as they violate linguistic rights of Polish minorities. Poland also asked the Special Rapporteur if there is any way her office can galvanize international support to help ensure the continuity of education of Ukrainian children affected by war.

Gambia supported the African group statement and welcomed the Special Rapporteur's recommendations. Gambia stressed on the benefits of digital education and also on its associated risks. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Gambian government and its donors funded and

provided students with digital classes on TV, radio and mobile, in order to avoid loss of education.

Saudi Arabia declared education to be of great importance and agreed with the Special Rapporteur on the harmful implications of the increased use of digital technologies and considered it crucial to build resilience of children, teachers, parents and caretakers against risks and threats of online exploitation and cyber bullying. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia made sure to implement a strategic plan for digital education and to establish a safe digital platform for students.

Namibia stated that it could not replace traditional education models with digital education During Covid-19 pandemic, due to existing inequalities and lack of widespread connectivity, particularly for learners and students in rural and remote areas.. In this respect, the Namibian ministry of education, arts and culture resorted to revising the school calendar to ensure continued face to face education with the best practices.

Madagascar aligned itself with the African group statements. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused upheaval in the Madagascan educational sector and the government has reacted in a rapid and proportional manner to confront its educational crisis. In that context, the government has adopted a new educational plan for the 2021 to 2022 period, which incorporated the context of each school as well as the staff's.

Malawi welcomed the report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, specifically addressing the impact of the digitalization of education and the right to education. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the huge inequalities in access to digital technologies, particularly in the least developed countries like Malawi. Malawi stated that it is currently implementing a digital Malawi project, with the support of the World Bank, aimed at increasing access to affordable high quality Internet services for government, businesses and citizens.

The European Union (on behalf of a group of countries) reiterated its commitment to promote economic, social and cultural rights in respect of the principles of universality, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights. Aware of the opportunities and risks of digital technologies, the European Union assured of its commitment to closing the various digital gaps, to foster access to digital technologies, information and media education and to empower everyone to participate confidently and safely in today's digital society and economy.

Sierra Leone aligned itself with the statement delivered by the African group. Sierra Leone shared their concern regarding the profit driven agenda of digital technology, lobbyists and companies. Sierra Leone's delegation believes that the implementation of digital technologies in schools must be for the primary purpose of enhancing education and emphasizes the need for careful consideration regarding an equitable implementation of digital technology in education.

The United Republic of Tanzania called for stronger international cooperation to address the impediments in accessing essential technologies, such as lack of electricity or adequate internet

connections for students, teachers, families and communities. The United Republic of Tanzania shared how its country made great strides towards universal and inclusive education since 2012, and assured that it will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the right to education for all.

Brazil reminded all states that education is a human right and also an invaluable tool to fight against violations in human rights, particularly racism, islamophobia, anti semitism, xenophobia and discrimination. Brazil shared that the Brazilian Constitution itself ensures the right to public education to children without discrimination. Brazil also stated that it had implemented numerous policies in 2013 to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalized groups receive quality education.

Final Remarks

Madam Kombou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education, thanked all states and organizations that took the floor for this meeting. She made a special mention of civil society and recognized the incredible work that has been done to ensure educational rights. She called on all states to cooperate with and collaborate with civil society. Turning to the comments and questions that have been made, she acknowledged that all states, with the support of organizations and civil society, recognized the digitalization of education as a key element. In order to best leverage educational digitalization, the Special Rapporteur recommended that all states should think in a wide range and make spaces reserved for dialogue not only internationally and regionally, but also nationally and locally. In order to avoid inequalities and discrimination, she emphasized on the need for long-term planning that empowers people in urban and rural areas, migrants and refugees, nomadic populations, women and girls. She also stressed on the need to envision a resilient and peaceful society. According to the Special Rapporteur, education must be incorporated in that peaceful societal vision as it is a transformative instrument that allows us to maintain that goal. She also stated that students should be given psychological support as mental health is fundamental. Another important point raised by the Special Rapporteur is that it is fundamental to ensure that cultural values (material and immaterial resources) are incorporated in the digitalization process as there have been issues surrounding the connections between cultural rights and educational rights. She thanked the work done by all states in this area and complemented Saudi Arabia for its excellent educational platforms, as well as Morocco for its good leadership and for ensuring the connection between culture and education. The Special Rapporteur reminded all states that Africa needs to take the lead both in terms of financing and in terms of policies and strategies. She thus highly recommended setting up an African fund for education and for the right to education.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace