In a list of issues released on Friday 5 December 2014, the United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) formally asked the Ugandan Government to explain the impact of privatisation in education “on the right to education of girls and children living in poverty”.
The Committee further requested that Uganda provide information on the measures taken “to ensure access to Universal Primary Education for all children, in particular children of ethnic groups and indigenous peoples as well as children with disabilities” as well as “to address the regional disparities in the enjoyment of the right to [...] education, mainly affecting communities living in Northern and Eastern regions of Uganda.”
This is a first victory for the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) and its partners, as several points that they had raised in a report submitted to the CESCR in October 2014 and focused on the effect of privatisation on the right to education were included in the list of issues.
”We are pleased that the Committee on the Economic Social and Cultural Rights is questioning the impact of the growth of private education on the right to education, in particular for girls and children living in poverty. Our report demonstrates that the uncontrolled development of private education in Uganda is resulting in discrimination, particularly for the most marginalised groups. The fact that the Committee asks more information about it is a recognition that private school growth is an essential issue in Uganda, and will force the Government to explain itself on this” declared Salima Namusobya, the Executive Director of ISER.
Part of the privatisation in education and the inequalities it engenders are due to the failure of the Government of Uganda to adequately fund public education, as government financing for public education is decreasing, against international legal standards. In this respect, ISER and its partner organisations welcomed that the CESR also requested the Government of Uganda “to indicate if [it] intends to increase the budget allocations for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights, in particular, to health and education sectors which have not increased in recent years despite the growing demand for these sectors’ services and to “inform the Committee of the budget allocations to these sectors for 2015”.
The Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, is a UN body made up of international experts responsible for monitoring implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This list of issues published by the CESCR follows a pre-review of Uganda by the CESCR on 3 December 2014. The Ugandan Government must now respond in writing to questions posed by the Committee by 1st March 2015. Uganda will then be formally reviewed in plenary by the CESCR in June 2015, after which the Committee will make written recommendations.
ISER and its partner organizations informed they stand ready to contribute to the debate on the reform of the education system. They will keep on working on this topic with the Ugandan civil society in the coming months.
Contacts for further information:
Namusobya Salima, Executive Director, Initiative for Social and Economic Rights: email@example.com
Sylvain Aubry, Right to education researcher, Global Initiative on Economic, Social And Cultural Rights: firstname.lastname@example.org