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Strict financial accountability crucial to stop treating education as a commodity in Chile

GENEVA / SANTIAGO (5 April 2016): “The State remains the guardian of the right to education in all circumstances,” said today the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Kishore Singh, while calling on the Chilean authorities to adopt a legal framework to devote maximum resources to education on a sustainable basis.

“Chile is going through an historic period of transformation to recognise education as a right and not as a commodity,” Mr. Singh said at the end of his first official visit* to Chile, where he welcomed the current efforts to revert 30 years of market-based policies in education adopted in the name of freedom in teaching, which have led to high levels of school segregation and stratification.

For the Special Rapporteur, freedom in teaching does not give freedom to any provider of education to undermine education as a public good or make it subservient to private interest to the detriment of social responsibility in education. “The State is the legitimate authority for exercising regulatory power covering all aspects of the education system,” he stressed.

“Chile is embarking on the implementation process of the Inclusive Education Act of June 2015, with commitment to progressively and completely eradicate ‘for-profit’ education before end of 2017,” he observed. “The historic reforms pushed forward by the current Government are unprecedented.”

The UN expert commended Chile for adopting legislation in several key areas such as the Act for Plan of action on Citizenship training. Draft laws have also been prepared on the National System on Public Education and on Children’s Rights while a reform in higher education for increasing institutional capacity is being devised. “In the spirit of reforms, corporate interests in Universities should no longer be allowed,” Mr. Singh noted.

The UN Special Rapporteur urged the Chilean Government to adopt a law on financing education, stressing that education is not only a right in itself, but also essential for the exercise of all other human rights. “A legal framework for financing education would make it possible to devote maximum resources to education on a sustainable basis.”

“A stringent regulatory framework is an essential to ensure that no private provider is allowed to reduce education to business, treat it as a commodity and indulge in financial fraud and corruption in education,” Mr. Singh emphasised. 

“Such practices must be rigorously investigated with transparency and full accountability, and those found guilty must be brought to justice,” the human rights expert concluded.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=18558&LangID=E

Mr. Kishore Singh (India), the Special Rapporteur on the right to education since August 2010, is a professor specialized in international law who has worked for many years with UNESCO for the promotion of the right to education, and advised a number of international, regional and national bodies on right to education issues. Throughout his career, Mr. Singh has supported the development of the right to education in its various dimensions and worked to promote better understanding of this right as an internationally recognized right. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Education/SREducation/Pages/SREducationIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Chile: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/CLIndex.aspx

OHCHR Regional Office, Chile: http://acnudh.org/en/home/

For inquiries and media requests, please contact:
In Santiago (during the visit): Leire Agirreazkuenaga (+56 2 654 1032 / leire.agirreazkuenaga@undp.org)
In Geneva (before and after the visit): Lucía de la Sierra (+41 22 917 9741 / ldelasierra@ohchr.org) or write to sreducation@ochcr.org 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Mr. Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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