December 8, 2006
Moroccan children, especially girls, street kids and those living in rural areas, continue to drop out of school at unacceptably high rates, driven mainly by the lack of basic services such as sanitation, water and electricity, an independent United Nations human rights expert has concluded after touring the North African country.
Vernor Mu-oz, the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said in a statement issued yesterday following his trip that Morocco needs to make further efforts to ensure that children are able to stay in school, especially at the primary level.
He said "the lack of canteens and boarding facilities, coupled with a prevailing lack of sanitation, water and electricity supply in various rural areas, have a direct negative impact in the realization of the right to education, especially of girls."
The statement urged Moroccan authorities to make special efforts to enrol and continue the education of the estimated population of 600,000 street children, starting by collecting data on those children and on girls who serve as domestic workers.
But Mr. Mu-oz welcomed the "very positive institutional and legislative measures" taken by Morocco, including the enshrining of the right to education in the national constitution, the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the adoption of a national charter for education and training that includes the incorporation of human rights teaching into the curriculum.
He praised authorities for their efforts to introduce the language and culture of the Amazigh (Berber) peoples into the curriculum, as well as attempts to combat widespread illiteracy, although he added that the quality of the literacy programmes needs to be improved.
During his visit from 27 November to 5 December, Mr. Mu-oz toured primary, secondary and high schools across the country and met with the Minister for Education, the Minister of Religious, Endowment and Islamic Affairs and other senior Government officials. He also held talks with scholars, teacher unions, UN staffers, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others.
Mr. Mu-oz will present a full report on his visit to the Human Rights Council at its session in March next year.
Special Rapporteurs, unpaid experts who serve in an independent personal capacity, received their mandate from the defunct UN Commission in Human Rights and now report to the newly established and enhanced Human Rights Council.