Suriname Minister of Education endorses Commitment to Action in Foundational Learning

On the International Day of Education, dedicated to Learning for Lasting Peace

01 February 2024
Minister of Education Henri Ori and UNICEF Guyana and Suriname Representative Nicolas Pron
The Minister of Education, His Excellency Minister Henri Ori with UNICEF Guyana and Suriname Representative Nicolas Pron

Paramaribo, 24 January 2024 – On the International Day of Education, dedicated to Learning for Lasting Peace, UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to supporting the Government of Suriname to provide universal access to quality education for every child. Recognizing education as an inherent right and a fundamental pillar for peaceful societies and sustainable development.

UNICEF commends the Government of Suriname for showing leadership in discussing solutions to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030 and reiterating their commitments towards education as a basic human right.

Despite significant efforts, we must acknowledge the challenges that persist. Nationally between 2019 and 2021 there was a decline of about 2000 children for enrollment in primary education from 88,071 to 79,827, which indicates that less children are attending grades aligned to the official age category, according to Education statistical yearbook 2019-2021.


Evidence also shows greater losses among students in the lowest socioeconomic levels and marginalized communities

  • The out of school primary education rate has increased to a high of 15.7 percent in 2021 compared to 6.1 percent in 2019.
  • Lower secondary also saw an increase of out of school children of 48.7 percent (in 2021). 
  • In addition, 38.7 percent of children from the vocational stream dropped-out of lower secondary.

In 2021 the education system underwent significant changes in relation to the aftershock of the COVID pandemic on learning. This included the expansion of primary education with grades 9 and 10, followed by secondary education that continues until the grade range 14-16 depending on the type of education.

In primary the automatic promotion policy was implemented. Teachers, parents and caregivers experienced challenges of these reforms with a significant decline in attention for maintaining academic performance due to the automatic transition. Consequently, children are at risk of failing grade 10 assessment and beyond without a change in awareness about maintaining and keeping up academic performance regardless of the automatic promotion policy.

Evidence also shows greater losses among students in the lowest socioeconomic levels and marginalized communities, such as Suriname’s interiors with extended school closures due to emergency hazards such as flooding and droughts. The learning losses are so great that more children are now at risk of dropping out of school.

The shadow of the pandemic has impacted not only Suriname, but also the education of children in the whole Latin America and Caribbean region, with data showing, four out of five sixth graders unable to read a simple text and 4.3 million children out of school across the region.

Now it’s time to turn commitment into action. To address the learning crisis, UNICEF and partners have developed the RAPID Framework. UNICEF calls on governments and partners to urgently:

  • Reach every child and keep them in school
  • Assess learning levels regularly
  • Prioritize teaching the fundamentals, as the building blocks of lifelong learning
  • Increase the efficiency of instruction including through catch-up learning
  • Develop psychosocial health and wellbeing so every child is ready to learn.

This comprehensive call for action underscores the urgency and importance of a collaborative effort to transform education, making it inclusive, peace-oriented, and resilient for the challenges of the 21st century.

UNICEF reiterates its support to the Government of Suriname i.e. the Ministry of Education and working with relevant partners and stakeholders on solutions, like learning catch up programs, digital innovations and inclusive education materials that fit the education needs of all types of learners.

Today, UNESCO and the Ministry of Education of Chile, with the CAF BANK, the World Bank, ECLAC and UNICEF, convened a Regional Education Meeting that will bring together Ministers of Education from the region at the ECLAC headquarters in Santiago and will impact 33 countries with approximately 125 million students, who are supported by 6.9 million teachers. The meeting aims to advance in defining public policies focused on the reactivation, recovery, and transformation of education as accelerators of the educational goals of the 2030 Agenda. 

The Minister of Education, His Excellency Minister Henri Ori, joined Education Ministers from Latin America and Caribbean at the Education Meeting in Santiago this week, aimed at securing new commitments and action on foundational learning.

Media contacts

Mahogany Neede
Communications Officer
Unicef Guyana and Suriname
Tel: +5977101017


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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