UNESCO Social and Human Sciences
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UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education

The UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education, adopted 14 December 1960 and entered into force 22 May 1962, is the first international convention which contains expressis verbis provisions relating to the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including linguistic minorities.

Article 1

    1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "discrimination" includes any distinction, exclusion, limitation or preference which, being based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic condition or birth, has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing equality or treatment in education [...].

Article 2

    When permitted in a State, the following situations shall not be deemed to constitute discrimination, within the meaning of Article 1 of this Convention: [...]
    (b) The establishment or maintenance, for religious or linguistic reasons, of separate educational systems or institutions offering an education which is in keeping with the wishes of the pupil's parents or legal guardians, if participation in such systems or attendance at such institutions is optional and if the education provided conforms to such standards as may be laid down or approved by the competent authorities, in particular for education of the same level.

Article 5(1)

    The States Parties to this Convention agree that: [...] (c). It is essential to recognize the right of members of national minorities to carry on their own educational activities, including the maintenance of schools and, depending on the educational policy of each State, the use of the teaching of their own language, provided however:
    (i) That this right is not exercised in a manner which prevents the members of these minorities from understanding the culture and language of the community as a whole and from participating in its activities, or which prejudices national sovereignty;
    (ii) That the standard of education is not lower than the general standard laid down or approved by the competent authorities; and
    (iii) That attendance at such schools is optional. [...]

Note: The full text of the Convention Against Discrimination in Education canbe be found at http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/DISCRI_E.PDF

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