By TP Saran
The following was forwarded to me:
“Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under Articles 16 and 17 of the Covenant
Concluding Observations of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
- The Committee is concerned about the high level of poverty among Mauritian Creoles that largely prevents the enjoyment of human rights by those affected. (art. 2, para. 2)
The Committee urges the State party to develop an effective strategy targeting poverty specifically among Mauritian Creoles, with due respect to their cultural rights.
- The Committee is concerned about the slow progress in education particularly among children in some disadvantaged areas, and that one third of all children do not pass the Primary School Leaving Certificate examinations. The Committee views that the use of English as the language of instruction contributes to this situation, in light of the fact that Creole is spoken by the large majority of the population. The Committee is also concerned about the negative impact of private tuition on the universal access by children to secondary education. (art. 13)
The Committee recommends that the State party increase its efforts to ensure that children in disadvantaged areas are able to complete school, including by maintaining and extending the system of Zones d’Education Prioritaire. It further recommends that the State party continue its experiments with the use of Creole as a medium of instruction in schools, and that it produce educational materials in Creole. The Committee also recommends that the State party eliminate the competitive system for entry to secondary schools and admit children to secondary schools near to their place of residence and not based on their performance.”
Are we supposed to take this seriously? Clearly, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations has not done its homework properly. ECOSOC is playing local politics, and it should be strongly condemned for that.
Has ECOSOC gone on its head? Admitting children not based on their performance? Pray, are we to assume that ECOSOC chooses its committee members not on the basis of their performance but according to how close their place of residence is to ECOSOC’s seat?
We did not know that these are the standards that this UN agency is following! And it is supposed to provide sound guidance of the highest level to its member states. In this case, the urges and recommendations are tending towards producing a group of Mauritian citizens who will become even less adapted to face the modern world of high learning and where comparative advantage is measured by performance.
ECOSOC wants to push Creoles in a ghetto. If that is what those who deponed at ECOSOC wish for, we cannot but hope that they know what they are doing. We cannot, however, say like Jesus Christ did on the cross, ‘forgive them my father because they do not know what they are doing.’ In this case, if they do not know, we certainly know very well that they are misleading those whose interest they seem to be defending. Did they depone in Creole? Do they speak Creole to their kids at home? Do they send their kids to schools where the latter are taught in Creole?
We know it for a fact that the most vocal protagonists of the use of Creole language for teaching send their kids to the French lycées.
If ECOSOC has a modicum of sincerity, why does it not produce its documents in Creole? What about conducting its deliberations in Creole?
The government must reject outright the absurd recommendations of this UN body, because it is going to do intolerable harm to future generations of Mauritian children at large. Levelling to the lowest common denominator: is that how we are going to join the train of the 21st century? In these days of internet and globalisation, ECOSOC could not have done worse than to make such ill-advised recommendations.
Will the government take note and not succumb to such idiocy?
* Published in print edition on 24 September 2010
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