The United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous People is observed each year to promote and protect the rights of the world’s Indigenous population. This event recognizes the achievements and contributions made by Indigenous Peoples. The commemoration takes place on August 9 in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982.
This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is devoted to the right to education.
The right of Indigenous peoples to education is protected by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which in Article 14 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.”
The right of Indigenous peoples to education is also protected by a number of other international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Global Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, Indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.
In spite of these instruments, the right to education has not been fully realized for most Indigenous peoples, and a critical education gap exists between Indigenous peoples and the general population.
Where data exist, they show consistent and persistent disparities between the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous population in terms of educational access, retention and achievement, in all regions of the world.
The education sector not only mirrors the historical abuses, discrimination and marginalization suffered by Indigenous peoples, but also reflects their continued struggle for equality and respect for their rights as peoples and as individuals.