Monday, April 21, 2014

Dominican Republic Education System

     The current status of the education system in the Dominican Republic is in critical condition. It has been ranked by UNESCO and the World Forum as being the worst in the Central American and Caribbean region. The biggest issue and reasoning behind the extremely poor ranking is the lack of funding. Spending on education is 1.9 percent of GDP, which according to Law 66-97 is really
supposed to be allocated to four percent. That definitely shows that education is not the government's top priority, despite all the protests and demands from the public.
     To make matters worse, children of Haitian descent that were born in the Dominican Republic are not allowed to attend school. Numerous amounts of families with school-age children are being turned down following a court rule that is stripping people of their citizenship. Due to the court rule, children are dropping out of school, losing their scholarships, or being forced into child labor. This is a clear violation of human rights and is affecting thousands of people. Human rights groups say that "roughly 200,000 people could be affected, while the government put the number at 13,000 people", according to a compiled report made by researchers at the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University. The Dominican government is leaving people behind and should not deny children the right to an education, especially if they are natural-born citizens with a Haitian ancestry. They are being denied the basic documents of identification or are having their documents taken by the government despite being born there.
     According to the constitution of the Dominican Republic, everyone has the right to an education, including those without the proper documentation. The reason it became an issue, is that proof of citizenship is required before taking national exams. Some generous teachers and administrators may overlook the lack of proper documents to help advocate for their students. There is an "estimated 48,000 children who lack identification documents" that are enrolled in primary school, taken by the Ministry of Education. Representatives from the government of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are meeting to discuss the issue, and will hopefully find a solution as soon as possible because no child should be denied the right to an education anywhere.

Madeline Mehall
Loyola University Chicago

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