Indigenous peoples still struggling over the right to education


They make up less than 5% of the world's population – but they account for 15% of the poorest people.

They are the indigenous people. There are 370 million of them in 90 countries and they speak the vast majority of the 7000 languages spoken across the planet.



Today is International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. Events are being held in many countries and this year's theme is the right to education.

That right is protected by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



But there is still a gap in the amount and quality of education between indigenous people and the rest of the population in many countries.

It is often a struggle because these distinct peoples have developed their own ways of passing on knowledge. Many of their cultures and practices were ignored when formal education systems were set up.



This means indigenous students can be stigmatised and suffer discrimination.

For example, in Nunavut – the northernmost territory in Canada – Inuit high-school graduation rates are well below average and only 40% of all school-age indigenous children are at school full time.



In the Latin America and Caribbean region, on average 85% of indigenous children attend secondary school. But only 40% complete that level of education.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today: “I call on governments everywhere to improve access to education for indigenous peoples and to reflect their experiences and culture in places of learning.”



The right of every child, no matter who they are or where they live, to have an “inclusive and equitable” quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by world leaders. Learn more about SDG4 and the targets to be achieved by 2030.