An independent United Nations human rights expert has called on Kazakhstan to invest more in promoting inclusive education so that no one is left behind, particularly those belonging to vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, refugees or migrants.
“Investing more in this strategic sector is not only an obligation, but an essential step in the consolidation of democracy, and Kazakhstan is fully capable to achieve it thanks to recent economic development,” Kishore Singh, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, said at the end of his eight-day visit to the country.
“No one should be left behind,” stressed the expert. “If economic growth quickly changed the landscape of Kazakh cities with impressive buildings and industries, only the consolidation of an inclusive education system that pays special attention to marginalized groups and to the preservation of cultural diversity can truly transform the lives of people.”
Sharing some of his preliminary findings at a press conference in the capital, Astana, Mr. Singh said it is critical to monitor practices at the local level to ensure that no costs are imposed on parents with low income.
“The provision of education free of charge to everyone in this country is perhaps the main reason for the almost universal enrolment and literacy levels in Kazakhstan,” he noted.
He also highlighted the situation of children with disabilities, who are still not enrolled in educational programmes in significant numbers. Most of those who have access to education are schooled at their homes or special boarding schools, excluded from mainstream education.
“Whenever their physical conditions permit, the integration of these children in regular schools is crucial not only to ensure their right to education but also to promote their full integration in society,” he said.
Mr. Singh also said that migrants and refugees have the right to receive education like everyone else in Kazakhstan, adding that human rights treaties clearly state that nationality or residence status must not be a barrier in accessing education.
During his visit, Mr. Singh met with various Government authorities and international and non-governmental organizations, and visited schools and universities in Almaty and Astana.
He will present his findings and recommendations to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in June 2012.