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APF members mark International Day for the World's Indigenous Peoples

Graphic: Two Aboriginal children in a remote school in Australia

Across the region, our members are joining the call for governments to respect and promote indigenous peoples’ right to education.

APF members from all parts of the Asia Pacific have marked the International Day for the World's Indigenous Peoples, 9 August, which this year highlights Indigenous Peoples' Right to Education.

President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, said in a statement that while there have been improvements in some areas, the participation levels of Indigenous Australians in higher education still remain below those for non-Indigenous Australians.

"Other barriers to education include discriminatory and racist attitudes in the school environment; language barriers between Indigenous learners and teachers; and inadequate resources for teachers," she said.

Indigenous students can be stigmatised because of their Indigenous identity and can experience low self-esteem as a result.

Australian Human Rights Commission Logo Professor Gillian Triggs, President, Australian Human Rights Commission

The right of indigenous peoples to education is protected by article 14 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which states that: "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on governments everywhere to improve access to education for indigenous peoples and to "commit to ensuring indigenous peoples are not left behind".

Indigenous man presents evidence at national inquiry, Malaysia

The APF has published a manual and video series, and offers a blended learning training course, to support our members in their important work to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

During the past year, APF members have continued their work to advance the rights of indigenous peoples and to promote respect – by government, business and others – for the principles in the UN Declaration.

The national human rights institutions (NHRIs) of Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines showcased some of their efforts at the recent session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), held in New York from 9-20 May 2016.

At a specially-convened side event held on 13 May 2016, with support from the APF, they highlighted the unique role of NHRIs to work alongside indigenous peoples and to advocate for their individual and collective rights.

For example, the NHRIs of Malaysia and Indonesia have both completed national inquiries examining the land rights of indigenous peoples in their respective countries and are actively lobbying for implementation of the recommendations made by those inquiries.

At the side event and in plenary sessions of the meeting, APF members also used their speaking opportunities to encourage UNPFII to allow 'A status' NHRIs to participate independently in its meetings.

Date: 9 August 2016

Image credits

  1. Two Aboriginal children in a remote school in Australia - Rusty Stewart, Flickr: http://bit.ly/2aGwOri
  2. Indigenous man presents evidence at national inquiry, Malaysia - Human Rights Commission of Malaysia