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WORKING GROUP OF THE MAIN COMMITTEE

The Working Group on the draft commitment on education completed tabling amendments to A/CONF.166/L.2 in the morning, and in the afternoon began drafting text based on the Secretariat's compilation of those amendments. The Group agreed to re-examine the preamble and other disputed language after the first full reading of the text.

In the preamble, the G-77 proposed adding "With a view to strengthening cohesion, cultural dialogue, interdependence, justice and solidarity among our peoples and nations and in order to establish a culture of peace in the world" to the beginning of the text. Supported by Canada, the G-77 replaced "basic health services" with the Canadian language "primary health care to achieve the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health." The EU suggested a fourth bullet for its version of the preamble: "(d) contributing to the full development of human resources and to social development." The US added "disability" to the G-77 formulation.

The EU and Japan said that the G-77 introductory phrases were unclear and inconsistent with other commitments. Egypt, Mali and Nicaragua suggested putting "We commit" at the beginning for consistency but leaving the new phrase. Mali stated that the terms were understood and established in UN and other international instruments, particularly those of UNESCO. He said the phrases were references to culture that are necessary to achieve social development. The US said the terms were known, but suggested using the original preamble from A/CONF.166/L.2. Canada proposed moving the opening lines to the end of the preamble, keeping the new health language and disability reference.

In paragraph (a) (formulate national strategies) of the national-level commitments, the G-77 removed "timebound" and added language to read: "Formulate and strengthen national strategies for the eradication of illiteracy and universalization of basic education, which includes early childhood education, primary education and education for the illiterate, in all communities." The EU proposed deleting the remainder of the paragraph referring to national language and non-formal education.

In paragraph (b) (lifelong learning), the G-77 proposed "which foster ethical" before "values," and added language emphasizing priority for women and girls. In paragraph (c) (enabling all children to attend school), the Holy See added a reference to parents and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and a paragraph (c bis) referring to partnerships with family, the private sector, NGOs and religious groups. Lesotho added a reference to "herd boys and other out-of-school children." The US bracketed (c) and (c bis), noting the issues were dealt with elsewhere in the Programme of Action. Norway added a new paragraph after (c) emphasizing the importance of education for women

In paragraph (d) (equal educational opportunities), the G-77 added "preferably" before "in integrated settings." The US substituted "persons" for youth and adults, and the EU substituted "encountering particular disabilities with regard to education" for "disabilities."

New Zealand amended the Canadian-proposed new paragraph (dd) (education and health care for indigenous people) to refer to the aspirations as well as the needs of indigenous people. The US supported the amendment, but objected to the language on the right to health care. Benin objected to singling out this group, and suggested including a reference to indigenous people after the reference to primary education in all communities in paragraph (a) (national strategies). In new paragraph (d) (access to education for girls and women), Venezuela supported Norway's proposal, but Benin stated that the reference could be incorporated into paragraph (c) (rights of children to education).

In paragraph (e) (conversion of information to knowledge), Colombia asked to keep the paragraph as it was originally proposed by the Rio Group and the G-77, or to complement it with the EU alternative (e) (development of fundamental research). The EU wanted to consider Norway's new paragraph (e) on strengthening the links between labor market and education policies. The Chair suggested that all the paragraphs be placed in brackets for harmonization. In paragraph (f) (developing broad-based educational programmes), the EU suggested adding "training in tolerance." Canada included "promotion of the values of tolerance, responsibility, and the respect for diversity." Iran asked to include the right to development.

Early in the discussion on paragraph (f) (bis) (childrens' rights and accessible education), Japan noted that other paragraphs were similar and could be integrated with (f) (bis). The Holy See insisted that any reference to the rights of the child include a reference to the rights of parents. The G-77 stated that the paragraphs under consideration for merging formed an important sequence: the needs and rights of the child; access to schooling from primary to higher education; and education for women. Delegates agreed to merge (f) (bis) with (h) (nutrition and health access for children), ensuring that children, especially girls, enjoy their rights to education, nutrition, and health care. The Holy See's request to refer to the rights of parents was held in abeyance, pending the outcome of the consultative groups.

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