Afghanistan: Top UN officials strongly condemn ‘heinous’ attack on girls school


Two senior UN officials on Wednesday, condemned in the strongest terms, a terrorist attack targeting girls and their families outside a high school in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

The terrorists who exploded a bomb near a girls’ school in the mostly Shiite district of west Kabul in Dasht-e-Barchi on Saturday “must be held accountable” for their “heinous crime”, the UN Special Representatives for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, and on Violence Against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, said in a joint statement.

According to news reports, scores of people – many of them students between the ages of 11 and 15 – were killed and hundreds of others injured.

Safeguard girls education

The UN officials also called on the Afghan authorities to urgently protect the right to education in armed conflict, especially for girls, which is too often overlooked and neglected.

“In many contexts, access to education is particularly harsh for girls for economic and cultural reasons, but also for security reasons of which the recent attack in Afghanistan is only one latest tragic example”, they said, pushing for the safety of schools “and that girls just like boys are given equal opportunities to pursue their education”.

Afghanistan schools targeted

Afghanistan schools and hospitals remain one of the most attacked, according to the 2019 Secretary-General Report on Children and Armed Conflict. And preliminary data for 2020 show a similar worrying trend, with COVID-19 further exacerbating the vulnerabilities of children, including girls.

“Girls may not be given the choice to go back to school when they reopen, because they had to work or be married off to support their families”, said the two UN officials.

Against the backdrop of the unremitting challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, they stressed that “countries must make the strategic decision of prioritizing education, including in armed conflict in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reaching the furthest behind”.

Undermining women’s roles

Targeting girls undermines the crucial role that educated girls and women play in the social and economic development of their societies.

The Special Representatives underlined the urgency of ending the violence in Afghanistan and achieving a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

They also extended their condolences to the victim’s families and the Government of Afghanistan and wished a full recovery to those who were injured in the horrific terrorist attack.

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For effective regulation of the country’s education system

By: Anurag Behar.


Scepticism of India’s draft National Education Policy should be suspended until it is implemented

This is the second column in the series, Glimpses Of The Draft National Education Policy (NEP). The draft NEP has received widespread responses, ranging from thoughtful endorsement and insightful critique to good-faith criticism. Some of this is in the public domain, but a lot more seems to be happening in group consultations, feedback to the human resource development ministry, etc. The final policy will be richer for all this. I am extracting some of the salient features of the NEP, with the intent to address some of the issues raised in these responses, but specific knowledge of the responses is not necessary to read through these points.

The NEP is a clear and strong endorsement of the public education system. It envisions high-quality, equitable and universal education—in and through the public education system. This is as applicable to higher education as to school education (age 3-22 roughly). Public-spirited, not-for-profit private institutions will certainly have a role in the Indian education system. However, it is the obligation of the state to provide high-quality education, and all efforts shall be aligned with this goal.

Government spending on public education must rise from current 10% of national public expenditure to 20% in 10 years. These numbers are rough estimates that indicate the direction and scale of the change required. The NEP is what the name says. It is education policy and cannot substitute the government’s fiscal policy and financial strategy. The NEP highlights the financial needs of education and does not dwell on where the money will come from, which is the business of the state.

The Right to Education Act (RTE), 2009, remains a key bulwark of school education—especially in the context of the strong reaffirmation of the state’s obligation and centrality of public education. If anything, its importance becomes deeper and broader, since the extension of the RTE from age 3 to 18, from the current 6 to 14, is envisioned as a key to enabling early-childhood-education and secondary education. The NEP explicitly endorses the continuation of Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation and the No Detention Policy in schools, taking a stand against the recent (past two years) legislative and other actions that dilute or eliminate these educationally important steps. It also directs action on the stopping of misuses and malpractices, including of 12(1)(c), for example, seeking exemption from the RTE by claiming “minority status», inflating student numbers, misrepresenting the socio-economic background of students, etc. It also calls for improvement of the RTE based on a comprehensive review of the experience of its implementation in the past decade, particularly on the matter of being responsive to local infrastructure needs without compromising safety, security and a wholesome learning environment.

“India» and “Indian» are integrated in many parts of the NEP. Some of these matters are: Indian languages, Indian literature, Indian art, Indian music, Indian knowledge systems, Indian history and context, etc. How could it be otherwise? After all, this is an education policy for India. Especially when it doesn’t do all this at the cost of ignoring the “global/modern». I can appreciate the apprehensions of some: “Is there more to this?» If the NEP text is read with an open mind, it becomes clear that there is nothing more to it than an important and valid commitment to know, understand and value our own society. The NEP takes a clear stand for a scientific temper, critical thinking and associated capacities, and for our constitutional values.

The NEP has the vision to transform the regulation and governance of the education system. Three of the key underpinning principles for this transformation are: transparent public disclosure, maximal empowerment and autonomy for institutions, and separation of roles and powers of regulation, operations, standard-setting, etc. While these principles are common to higher and school education, their manifestations are different. School education would be regulated by a newly created quasi-judicial “State School Regulatory Authority», based on a robust accreditation system, and the states’ Directorate of School Education (or Public Instruction) will only be responsible for running and improving the public schooling system. An illustrative implication of this is, Block Education Officers will have no regulatory powers; they will be responsible only for running and improving public schools. This “accreditation system» is based on, and thus empowering of, local institutions such as peer schools, school management committees and panchayats.

I have had the privilege of a ringside view of the evolution of the NEP. That gives me confidence that the draft will be enriched and revised by the constructive responses to it. Some of those responses will be the topic of the third piece in this series. I have also seen negative reactions to it. Many of these are born of a deep scepticism that committees can do their work unhindered and uninfluenced. Clearly, the final test of any policy is in its implementation, but it is important to suspend such judgement and disbelief. The NEP offers ample energy for that optimism.

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New education policy misses a critical chance to address inequalities in system

By: Anjela Taneja. 


The draft National Education Policy (NEPTodas las entradas), 2019, is full of provisions that many in the education sector have been desperate to see for decades. The conferring of the Right to Education to children under six and above 14, doubling of the overall financial allocation to education and strengthening the teaching profession bring cheer. However, many of the policy’s omissions and contradictions, combined with the previous track record of central and state governments in implementing existing education policies, diminish this hope.

The omissions: While the policy talks about the need to bring “unrepresented groups» into school and focus on educationally lagging “special education zones», it misses a critical opportunity of addressing inequalities within the education system. It misses to provide solutions to close the gap of access to quality education between India’s rich and poor children. It proposes to remove the expectations that all schools meet common minimum infrastructure and facility standards, and that primary schools be within a stipulated distance from children’s homes.

India’s schools already vary across the scale—from single room structures without water and sanitation, to technology-enabled international schools. Not specifying a common minimum standard below which schools cannot fall, creates conditions where quality of facilities in some schools will only sink lower, widening this gap.

This is even more of an issue since it proposes a roll back of existing mechanisms of enforcement of private schools making parents “de-facto regulators» of private schools. Parents, and particularly poor and neo-literate parents, cannot hold the onus of ensuring that much more powerful and resourced schools comply with quality, safety and equity norms.

India should have moved towards a national system of education that shapes India’s next generation and enforce standards of quality across the country.

The contradictions: While the policy places considerable emphasis on the strengthening of “school complexes» (clusters of schools sharing joint resources) and decentralized mechanisms for supporting teachers, their everyday management appears to have been tasked to the head teacher of the secondary school in the cluster.

Furthermore, no separate funding appears to have been earmarked for this. This is false economy, since this is a full time activity and needs to be staffed and resourced accordingly.

Lessons from non-implementation of past policies: The policy’s implementation is predicated on the assumption that the education budget would be almost doubled in the next 10 years through consistent decade-long action by both the centre and states. However, the revenue is decentralized to the states and it is unclear what would be done to ensure that resources needed will be allotted. The sheer scale of changes expected, the rapid timeline, the absence of a strong mechanism for handholding states on this journey and the probable inadequate budget raises questions on the full implementation of this policy. India’s history is littered with ambitious education policies that have not been fully implemented. The National Education Policy risks following this tradition, unless the government addresses the reasons behind the past policy-practice implementation gap and makes conscious efforts to carry all of India on the same road towards improvement in education.

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Migrants don’t leave their right to education behind

By: Audrey Azoulay.

The number of migrant and refugee children in the world today could fill more than half a million classrooms. Their parents are perhaps seeking new opportunities in the city, or even in another country. Others are forced to flee conflict or natural disaster.
In all, there has been a 26% increase in children on the move since 2000.

These children have the right to education, no matter where they are from and what they have been through. This is the focus of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (Unesco’s) Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report.

Migrants, refugees and internally displaced people are some of the most vulnerable in the world. Sometimes simply being in school means being safe. Eight-year-old Jana, a Syrian refugee at the Unesco-run school in the Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan, says she felt happy just to escape the sound of gunfire. School has also given her hope; she wants to be a teacher when she grows up.

When possible, these children should be placed in the same schools as host populations to help them to thrive. Teachers are on the front line supporting children who face discrimination or who suffer from trauma. They also need support to manage multilingual, multicultural classes and the psychological consequences of what they have endured.

A well-designed curriculum that challenges prejudices is also vital and can have a positive ripple effect beyond the classroom walls, enhancing social cohesion. Unfortunately, some textbooks include outdated depictions of migration and undermine efforts towards inclusion.

Adults also need educational support. Many have qualifications, but in Europe and North America only about one in 10 of those who have gained a higher education degree work in a job that matches their skills. The Unesco Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, due to be adopted next year, aims to resolve this problem.

The cost of educating immigrants is often exaggerated. Financing for refugee education, however, is woefully inadequate — only a third of the funding gap for refugee education has been filled. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that development aid plugs the holes, providing predictable and long-term funding so the burden does not fall on those countries least able to cope.

The world is poised to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees, both of which highlight the crucial role of education and reaffirm the importance of “leaving no one behind”. This year’s GEM Report offers a blueprint for countries to deliver on their promises. We hope all governments will use it to turn despair into hope for a brighter future for all.

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Fiji: UNICEF urges students to stand up for their rights

Oceania/ Fiji/ 20.11.2018/ Source:

UNICEF has urged students of Stella Maris Primary School to stand up and demand their rights.

In celebrating World Children’s Day, UNICEFrepresentative Sheldon Yett says the time for children to stand up and speak for themselves in now.

Yett says children are a minority and their voices should be heard.

“Today is World Children’s Day and Children should stand up for their rights and remind government that they have the right to education, the right to play, right to health care, and many other rights that is sanctify in that convention.”

Yett says parents and teachers also have crucial roles to play in ensuring the rights of a child is protected and they are safe.

Deputy Permanent Secretary for Education, Timoci Bure says student should make good use of the free education provided by the government.

Part of the celebrations were songs from various classes, action songs and meke.


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CAG Raps Arunachal for Sloppy Implementation of Right to Education

India/October 17, 2017/Source:

Arunachal has failed to achieve the target of providing free and compulsory education to every child even after six years of implementation of Right to Education (RTE) Act, the CAG said in a recent report.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, which was tabled in the state Assembly on Saturday by Finance Minister Chowna Mein, showed several lapses while implementing the Act in the state. The report alleged that school mapping and household survey for identification of children eligible for elementary education was not carried out.

Moreover, at the end of March 2016, the number of out of school children stood at 57,032 which included 26,009 who were not enrolled and 31,023 drop out children, which constituted 18 per cent of 3,12,255 eligible children during 2015-16.

The RTE Act came into being in 2010 in the state. The findings revealed that altogether 232 primary school buildings and 130 upper primary schools were constructed by the state government during the period 2014 to 2016 but the schools were yet to be handed over to the school authorities.

The report also highlighted 42 per cent shortfall in Science and Mathematics teachers till March 2016.

“Despite excess procurement of text books by the director of elementary education during 2010- 11 to 2012-13, there was a shortfall in receipt of text books in test checked schools in the sampled districts,” the report alleged adding, work books worth 123.02 lakh were not received from state Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the main vehicle for implementing the provision of the RTE Act.

Text books worth 10.88 lakh were not delivered to the SSA project director by the suppliers, the report said. It added there was also shortfall in supply of uniform in the test checked schools to the extent of 30.98 lakh.

2,760 number of boys uniform amounting to Rs 11.04 lakh and 13,700 number of girls uniform amounting to Rs 54.80 lakh were not delivered by the suppliers, the report pointed out. The RTE Act 2009 provides for free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years, by ensuring compulsory admission and completion of elementary education by every eligible child.

The programme also provides for creating infrastructure, adequate classrooms, playground, library and learning equipment and kitchen shed for mid-day meal. The government under the programme also laid emphasis on ensuring favourable student-teacher ratio, availability of qualified teachers and providing uniforms and text books to students enrolled in primary and upper primary schools.

The CAG report suggested the state government to conduct household survey and school mapping for identification of eligible children and ensure providing compulsory education to them. It also suggested the need to ensure timely release of fund to the implementing agencies for smooth implementation of the scheme, besides streamlining the procurement of text books and uniforms and to distribute to the targeted schools and students.


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United Arab Emirates: Every Child should get Right to Education

United Arab Emirates, Aug 5 2017. By: DH News Service

Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak has said that education plays key role in personal and social development of any human being.

Sheikh Nahyan was addressing the inaugural session of the first of its kind Festival of Education in the country, on Saturday, at Jaipur Exhibition and Convention Centre, Jaipur, as a chief guest. He said that education had potential of enabling the world end all economic inequalities and discriminations.

The Minister said that adopting to the scientific and technological changes was need of the hour and to ensure this our children should be offered the best quality education. He called upon the parents and entire society to join the governments in order to ensure quality education and overall development of the young next generation.

Sheikh Nahyan thanked the CM vasundhara Raje for her visionary idea of arranging for this festival and said with the teachers and pupils of Rajasthan getting acquainted with novel ideas of providing education this would revolutionize the scenario of education.

Addressing the gathering of educationists and researchers, teachers and parents on this occasion, Chief Minister Raje said that given the geographical and demographical circumstances of the state, providing quality education to the children here it was a big challenge.

The CM said that with the efforts thus made the talented students to get opportunities of higher studies in medical, engineering, law, management and other such disciplines.

Addressing the festival, Union HRD Minister Shri Prakash Javdekar said that the countries focusing on research and innovation excel in the world.

Prosperity based on natural resourced had its own constraints of time and only innovations and adaptations could make it everlasting, he said.


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