Promoting the right to education and SDG4 in Haiti

UNESCO organised a national workshop in Haiti to promote the right to education on 11 December 2017. Organised in the framework of the Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapED), the workshop aimed to raise awareness among participants on the importance of the right to education in the context of the new Education 2030 Agenda and the implementation of appropriate legislative reforms.

The meeting brought together approximately 30 participants with various profiles: national experts on law and education, including from the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MENFP), journalists, technical and financial partners, civil society organisations and representatives from private institutions.

Throughout the day, the exchanges highlighted the richness of the national debate on this subject and the need to give higher priority to education in the country, as well as evaluating its laws. 

The national workshop was a chance to raise participants’ awareness to the right to education and to complete an adjustment and approval of some conclusions and recommendations put forward in a key report on the legal framework of education in Haiti.

Paul Gomis, UNESCO’s Head of Office in Haiti, noted that this workshop was solidifying a process that started two years ago with the development of a diagnostic survey on the right to education. As explained by Jean Miguelite Maximé, co-author of the survey, Haiti still faces major issues when implementing the right to education. Haiti’s engagement towards international conventions is a positive element that should drive the country’s efforts to progress towards fully implementing the right to education.  

Rolla Moumné and Delphine Santini from UNESCO recalled the importance of the right to education and better aligning national legal frameworks on education with international standards, including SDG4. Today, Agenda 2030 provides governments with a strategic occasion to reform their legislation and establish further guarantees to make education a reality for all.

Through CapED’s Pilot Programme on SDG4, greater attention is paid to identifying possible gaps and mismatches between the national legislation and international standards and proposing recommendations on how to move forward. A synthesis report on 11 countries, including Haiti, was recently produced and released.

The main conclusions and recommendations of the report on Haiti were discussed by participants, who took note of the opportunities that the existing national strategies represented on the strengthening of normative work. The national workshop allowed for an open-floor discussion with participants and to spark debate on compulsory free education, non-discrimination and inclusion, as the core areas of SDG4 targets 4.1, 4.2 and 4.5.

Recommendations endorsed by the workshop include notably the need to ensure free and compulsory education for all children from 3 to 15, with the need to correctly enforce the obligation to attend school; the importance of aligning legal ages of the end of compulsory education, access to labour and the age of marriage; and modernizing the legislation to ensure an inclusive and supportive environment for all, including persons with disabilities. 

A set of concrete actions and priorities in the form of a roadmap were identified and agreed upon by participants. There was a large consensus that increased advocacy and awareness-raising is critical to help prioritise education in the country. The meeting led to the conclusion that it is now more necessary than ever to put the right to education at the core of national priorities and to increase raising awareness. Follow-up actions engaging more actively with members of parliament, officials at the MENFP, and other key stakeholders will be key to ensure sustainable progress. The conclusions of this workshop will be shared with members of the National Commission in charge of elaborating the new 10-year Education Plan (2017-2027).

The national workshop was seen as the starting point of a new momentum in the country on reinforcing national capacities for the right to education and SDG4.