Statement by Ms. Shiruzimath Sameer, Representative of the Maldives Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 69th Session, Intervention on the "Right to Education"
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Maldives expresses its gratitude to Special Rapporteur Mr.Kishore Singh for his invaluable work on the right to education—a pinnacle issue of human development. We take note of the Special Rapporteur's report reviewing trend towards privatization of educationas highlighted in his report and recognise that education is a "public good", and not a business or commodity to be exploited for profit.
The Maldives accepts that education is a human right and as such a responsibility that falls primarily to the state. As a country constituting 44 per cent of its population children and youth, we are determined to give all Maldivian children the best possible education. The Government of Maldives has taken significant steps forward to ensure equitable access to education. Maldives has achieved universality of primary education both in terms of literacy and enrolment, and more and more young people are given access to secondary and higher education opportunities with the establishment of the country's first University in 2012. However, we also recognise that private institutions play an important role in supplementing the educational opportunities available, especially in the higher education sector. At the same time, it is important to take note of the Special Rapporteur's warning that proper regulation and oversight are required to ensure that privatisation does not "supplant" public education.
The Government of Maldives accepts primary responsibility for the right to education and enforces strict regulations on all private entities. We match this commitment with action; the Government has consistently dedicated over 6% of total GDP to education expenditure, a record amount in the South Asian region.
I would like to raise a question in response to the Special Rapporteur's statement that privatization "negatively affects the right to education both as an entitlement and as empowerment." We agree that it is the responsibility of the State to provide universal and quality basic education, using the maximum of its available resources. However, a large portion of our students seek educational opportunities from abroad as the facilities and opportunities available at home are inadequate to cater to all their educational needs.
The Maldives would like to ask the Special Rapporteur, the following: - In developing countries such as the Maldives, in working towards the progressive realisation of the right to education, is it not beneficial to encourage private institutions to increase the number of educational opportunities available in the country?
-While the State must avoid a "two-speed" education system, is there a role for private institutions in improving overall access to education in small developing states which may otherwise lose some of its students to foreign institutions?