Bhutan (CRC 05-07-2017)
The Committee considered the combined third to fifth periodic reports of Bhutan (CRC/C/BTN/3-5) at its 2198th and 2199th meetings (see CRC/C/SR.2198 and 2199), held on 17 May, and adopted the present concluding observations at its 2221st meeting, held on 2 June 2017.
H. Education, leisure and cultural activities (arts. 28-31)
Education, including vocational training and guidance
- The Committee welcomes the progress in reaching near universal primary education enrolment and the adoption of the strategic document entitled “Bhutan Education Blueprint 2014-2024”. The Committee is however concerned about:
(a) The absence of an appropriate legal education framework, including to make primary education compulsory and to regulate private education providers, namely, in terms of curriculum and teachers’ qualification;
(b) The construction of “central schools” (i.e., regional boarding schools) replacing schools in rural areas, which provide for children as young as 6 years, and the impact that may have on the child’s development and right to family life;
(c) Children continuing to being denied access to education owing to lack of documentation, affecting predominantly children of Nepalese ethnic origin;
(d) The high dropout or repetition rates;
(e) The gender gap in secondary education, particularly affecting girls in rural areas, and the enduring disparities between girls and boys in gaining access to tertiary education;
(f) The lasting practice of corporal punishment in schools, notwithstanding the directive from the Ministry of Education banning it;
(g) The occurrence of peer violence and sexual harassment in schools, also affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex children.
- The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Adopt comprehensive legislation on the right to education, in accordance with articles 28 and 29 of the Convention, which should make primary education compulsory and applicable to both public and private educational institutions, and should regulate private education providers in terms of the curriculum taught and the qualifications of the teachers employed;
(b) Conduct consultations with communities, parents and children from rural areas on any decision to close rural schools and build regional boarding schools and ensure that the cultural and emotional needs of children away from their homes are adequately met and regularly overseen to ensure their welfare;
(c) Review the education policy to ensure that all children in the territory of the State party, independently of their or their parents’ citizenship or immigration status, have the right to have access to education and ensure that local administrative practices are aligned with such policy;
(d) Adopt specific programmes aimed at lowering the dropout and repetition rates in primary and secondary education, and develop and promote quality vocational training to enhance the skills of children and young people who drop out of school;
(e) Address the social factors, including parental support and cultural expectations on the role of girls and women, to ensure girls’ equal access to all levels of education, including tertiary education, and give special consideration to education aimed at the empowerment of girls;
(f) Adopt national legislation to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all educational settings and develop public education and awareness-raising programmes, involving children, families, communities, teachers and religious leaders on the harmful effects, both physical and psychological, of corporal punishment, with a view to changing the general attitude towards this practice, and to promote positive, non-violent and participatory forms of child-rearing and discipline;
(g) Develop and implement initiatives to combat violence, sexual harassment and bullying among children in schools, including towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex children, and train teachers and students to resolve conflicts peacefully, to create an environment of tolerance and respect;
(h) Seek technical assistance from UNICEF in the implementation of these recommendations.