Minority children in Africa and much of the developing world are denied education, according the London-based group Minority Rights Group International (MRG).
Many are too poor to afford an education, it says, and they are often systematically excluded. If they do manage to get into school, they may face discrimination.
“Education authorities need to recognize that it is not just a lack of resources that is keeping so many children out of school worldwide,” said Mark Lattimer, Executive Director of MRG. “Tens of millions of children are systematically excluded from school or receive only a second-rate education because of ethnic or religious discrimination.”
Among them are children of the San in Botswana and Batwa in Central Africa. MRG also says the children of national minorities, or small language groups, like the Hausa in northern Nigeria or pastoralists in East Africa, are also under-educated.
“Providing adequate education for minority and indigenous children is not a choice but a legal obligation on the part of the states,” said Carl Soderbergh, Director of Policy and Communication at MRG.” Yet statistics reveal that the costs of failing to provide education for all are massive.”
It’s important to invest in more schools, he said. “Governments have to be better at recruiting more bi-lingual minority language teachers. We know mother-tongue teaching has a huge impact with regards to success in literacy,” Soderberhg added that governments must act against segregation in schools by inviting minority groups to participate in designing school programs.
“When people belonging to disadvantaged minorities are asked about the greatest problems they face, the answer is always the same. They are concerned their children are not getting a quality education. Reversing that trend is MRG’s main goal,” said Soderbergh.
Details are included in MRG’s new report, titled The State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2009.