Where are we now? The challenges for the right to education in Asia


The activist Cecilia Soriano shares ten points she deems fundamental and presents information on the Asian situation

Photo: UN Photo

Despite the huge diversity of national contexts, the Asian continent still has to face many challenges in the education sphere. In her presentation at the seminar “The right to education in the global context”, Cecilia Soriano, General Coordinator of the organization “Enet Phil”, shared what she considers to be ten key points in the horizon of the right to education in Asia:
1. To ensure mechanisms for inclusion and support to students with disabilities
2. To develop monitoring systems for the students who are at risk of dropping out
3. To promote awareness raising on girls and women’s education
4. To develop a follow up programme to reach marginalized people
5. To implement a preschool education programme for all
6. To establish more community education centers in rural areas focused on literacy and the local knowledge
8. Schools should accept stateless children or children without papers
9. To promote AIDS/HIV prevention programmes on the basis of comprehensive approaches
10. To improve education training programmes in contexts of emergency and disasters.

As informed by the panelist – among many other things – many people drop out as they are forced to choose between paying for education or surviving. In this sense, free education is key. In Asia, parents contribute with financial inputs to their children’s education, whether with transport, backpacks, books or other direct or indirect costs.

Another important aspects highlighted by Cecilia is the need to understand the cultural patterns and their impact on the education scenario. In the Philippines, for instance, it is verified that girls attend school in a larger proportion than boys. This phenomenon is the result of a very traditional local practice founded on men’s right to property of the land. This cultural practice results in men’s lack of interest in attending school due to the promise of being granted land or inheriting it from their fathers. It shows the sexual division of social roles – education is for girls while the land is for boys – which surely requires an understanding that goes beyond the national statistics.

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