PHNOM PENH, 17 November 2017 – The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) convened the AICHR Regional Dialogue on Mainstreaming of the Right to Education in the ASEAN Community. The three-day dialogue aims at raising awareness of the right to education as a cross-cutting issue in ASEAN and to garner inputs from ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and stakeholders to mainstream the right to education across the three community pillars of ASEAN. Further, it was held to create a platform for strengthening regional cooperation on education and human rights.

The dialogue gathered more than eighty participants from ASEAN Member States, AICHR, ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, as well as various stakeholders of ASEAN and its partners. The Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, Mr. Polyne Hean, underscored that mainstreaming the right to education requires a concerted effort as the challenges and barriers to realising that right are cross-cutting in nature.

In his keynote speech, Mr. Keo Remy, President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee and Secretary of State of the Office of the Council of Ministers, emphasised that in order to make education a meaningful right, it should be available, accessible, acceptable and adaptable. He highlighted some of ASEAN’s commitments and initiatives in the realisation of the right to education, among others, the 2009 “Cha Am Hua Hin Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation on Education to Achieve ASEAN Caring and Sharing Community” and the “ASEAN Community Vision 2025”. He recognised and underlined education as a fundamental human right and as an empowering right in itself.

The experts and participants shared good practices and challenges to enhancing the right to quality and inclusive education and discussed possible ways forward for the AICHR as well as ASEAN’s bodies to contribute to the mainstreaming of the right to education across the three Community Pillars of ASEAN. Discussions by the participants highlighted common points such as the lack of quality teachers, budgetary challenges, gaps between urban and rural schools, disaster resilience, the need for an inclusive education, and lack of reliable disaggregated data. They also highlighted that partnerships play a key role in tackling these issues and to find possible ways forward.

At the end of the dialogue, participants discussed ways and means to mainstream the right to education across the three Community Pillars of ASEAN; and identified possible approaches to enhance the right to quality and access to different levels of education (e.g. basic education, higher education, technical and vocational education and training, lifelong learning, disaster risk reduction, education for sustainable development, and education through the use of ICT). During the closing, the Representative of Cambodia to the AICHR, as host, expressed confidence that the dialogue would be a strong platform to strengthen regional cooperation on education and human rights.

The dialogue was organised by the AICHR-Cambodia with the support of the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund.

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