A supportive policy environment as well as political commitment is needed to ensure quality indigenous education both as a right in itself and as a means to improve the economic and health prospects of women, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has been told. Several recent studies show that one extra year beyond primary school boosts economic possibilities for women by 10 per cent, leads to greater literacy and lower fertility, reduces child mortality and fosters democratic citizenship, Linda King, Interim Chief of the Section on Education for Peace and Human Rights in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), told the Forum. Some 1,500 people from 500 groups are meeting over the next two weeks in the Forum’s third session at UN Headquarters in New York to focus attention on indigenous women and girls, whose well-being is critical to the survival and prosperity of their peoples’ unique culture in this age of globalization. In her address yesterday, Ms. King noted that increased literacy among women had a greater effect on child mortality rates than increased literacy among males. Other research shows a link between the expansion of education and increased economic activity, she added. Also, children who went to school were more likely to protect themselves against diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Among requirements she listed for quality education were both formal and non-formal teaching methods at home and in the community, indigenous knowledge in educational curricula and innovative solutions for portraying indigenous knowledge systems as equal to Western systems. Other needs include culture-based curricula appropriate to the community, curricula promoting positive aspects of indigenous cultures, and the use of indigenous languages. In addition, teachers should be familiar with indigenous cultures and languages, and use responsive and experiential teaching methods. Opening the Forum on Tuesday, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said despite a dramatic shift in global attitudes, indigenous peoples still suffered disproportionately from extreme poverty and faced serious barriers to health care and basic education. The Forum advises and makes recommendations to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on social development, economic, cultural, human rights, environmental, education and health issues.
THE PUBLIC ACCOUNTS Committee (PAC) may be forced into holding a rare vote on whether or not to continue its inquiry into the penalty points controversy, with two government TDs telling TheJournal.ie they want their investigation to be halted as the Garda Ombudsman is now involved.Justice Minister Alan Shatter asked the Garda Ombudsman to investigate the penalty points controversy last night in light of recent developments.That has led to two government TDs on the PAC telling TheJournal.ie the morning that the committee should halt its work and a possible meeting with a garda whistleblower this week to allow the Ombudsman inquiry to proceed unhindered.Both deputies, who declined to be named, did not rule out the committee holding a vote on the issue, a rare occurrence which last happened when a vote was held on electing independent TD Shane Ross as chair when the committee was being formed three years ago.The government TDs on the committee ultimately helped vote down that proposal with Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness installed as chairman.Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald indicated on RTÉ Radio and Newstalk this morning that the PAC’s inquiries into the alleged malpractice in the administration of the penalty points system should continue.Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming and independent TD Shane Ross have also indicated that that they want the PAC’s investigation to continue alongside the Ombudsman probe.The PAC will meet at 4.30pm this afternoon where it is likely to take legal advice on the matter before deciding on its next steps, that advice could include halting its inquiries as a result of the Ombudsman probe.The serving garda sergeant at the centre of the allegations, Maurice McCabe, has indicated a willingness to come before the committee, but to do so in private session.Column: Shatter’s focus is on whistleblowers themselves, rather than their allegationsShatter: ‘I’m not trying to silence whisteblowers’Read: We’ll find out later today if a serving garda sergeant will appear before the PAC