Education systems in many of the world's poorest countries are experiencing the aftermath of the global economic downturn. The 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, argues that the crisis could create a lost generation of children whose life chances will have been irreparably damaged by a failure to protect their right to education. The Report examines who these children are and why they are being left behind, and looks at concrete solutions for making sure that no children are excluded from schooling.
On the first day of school, children often worry whether they'll make new friends or like their teachers. But in the Dominican Republic, some confront a far graver concern: Will I be turned away because I don't have a birth certificate?
The report, Left Behind: How Statelessness in the Dominican Republic Limits Children's Access to Education, shows that many children born in the Dominican Republic but descended from foreigners, particularly Haitians, are denied an education. For generations, such children were recognized as citizens, but within the last decade, the Dominican government has refused to issue many of them birth certificates, identity cards and other essential documentation, rendering them stateless. The report concludes that the Dominican Republic is failing to comply with its domestic and international human rights obligations, including the human right to education.
The report is the product of months of research, including interviews with dozens of affected children and families, as well as educators, advocates and government officials. Several of the Dominicans of Haitian descent interviewed were prevented from attending primary school, secondary school or university because they could not obtain identity documents. Of those allowed to attend school despite not having birth certificates, many were denied the ability to take national exams required to graduate.
All of this occurs in spite of laws, policies, constitutional provisions and international human rights commitments that are meant to guarantee children's right to education. The report found that administrative barriers, discrimination and confusion about the law has meant that in practice not all children in the Dominican Republic are allowed to go to school, even if they consider themselves Dominicans.
In 2009, India enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, which provides for free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14. However, the evidence presented in this report indicates that despite the 3 year deadline to implement the key provisions of the Act, it has yet to be adequately implemented.
This lack of implementation, enforcement and monitoring particularly affects children from marginalised groups, such as children with disabilities, girls, and Da lits. Children from these groups are excluded and discriminated against, affecting access, participation, retention, achievement, and completion of elementary education.
This report examines the obstacles preventing certain children from attending school and the government’s failure to take the steps necessary to address the problem.
Some Children are More Equal than Others is an independently produced one-man-film-project and was realized as a non-commercial documentary film. The human rights law firm "Legal Resources Centre" generously supported the filmmaker in order to raise awarness of the challenges faced in making South Africa a better place.