Remarks at a High Level Political Forum Discussion on Quality Education

Courtney Nemroff
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
July 9, 2019


Thank you Executive Director Fore and discussants. The United States is a leader in promoting inclusive, quality education and lifelong-learning opportunities around the world. Last year, we released the first-ever U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education. The Strategy aims to improve learning outcomes and expand access to quality basic education for all, particularly marginalized and vulnerable populations.

The United States is proud to support global partnerships and initiatives that foster innovation, create new opportunities for collective action, and leverage the United States’ one billion dollar annual investment in education worldwide. In 2018 alone our assistance reached more than 35 million children and youth through various education programs.

I am glad several discussants stressed the importance of developing children’s sense of respect and dignity through education. The United States values and promotes the expression of cultural identity, which constitutes an integral part of inclusive, quality education. Therefore we are particularly concerned by prohibitions on the use of Uighur language in classrooms in the Xinjiang Region of China. We are alarmed by credible reports of children being forcibly placed in boarding institutions where they are politically indoctrinated, instructed in Mandarin only, and completely separated from all aspects of Uighur culture and society.

Furthermore, we object strenuously to the Chinese government’s characterization of Xinjiang’s internment camps, where over a million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims have been arbitrarily detained, as “Education and Training Centers” or “boarding schools.” We again call on the Chinese government to close these camps, and to demonstrate respect for the cultural, linguistic, and religious identities of the people of Xinjiang.

Turning to occupied Crimea, we remain concerned by Russian occupation forces’ repression of the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar communities, including through the wholesale dismantling of educational instruction in the Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar languages.

We call on all member states to fully protect the expression of cultural identity in formal education. Indeed, respect for human rights must be a fundamental pillar of education policy.

Thank you, Madam Moderator.