ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OPENS 2011 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION WITH A FOCUS ON ADVANCING THE EDUCATION FOR ALL AGENDA
Hears Policy Messages from Annual Ministerial Review Preparatory Meetings, Holds Special Policy Dialogue on Mobilizing Resources to Accelerate Education for All
4 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council this morning opened its 2011 substantive session, which will run from 4 to 29 July at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Council began with its High-Level Segment, which will be held from 4 to 8 July, and which focuses on advancing the Education for All agenda, hearing opening addresses by Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, and Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. These were followed by keynote addresses, policy messages from the annual ministerial review preparatory meetings, and a special policy dialogue on mobilizing resources and partnerships to accelerate education for all.
Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), observed that education required far-ranging reforms and the United Nations Economic and Social Council could contribute by adopting a Ministerial Declaration that put education high on the policy agenda and bringing governments together to share their best practices and experiences. Boosting access to basic education remained a high priority for Africa, particularly in war-torn areas. At the national, regional and global levels big issues confronted governments in the quest to make education a reality for all. Poor quality was a concern, given that standardized tests revealed that many students lacked basic reading, writing and math skills, even after years of formal schooling. Secondary school graduates themselves were often ill-prepared for the workforce and this could be seen by high levels of youth unemployment across much of the world. Continued progress in education would require recruiting, training and retaining good teachers; embracing cost-effective technology; and improving accountability.
Joseph Deiss, President of the General Assembly, noted that education was essential for prosperity, development, the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, social change and the empowerment of women. The positive impact of education on development, health and all Millennium Development Goals had been clearly established. Five years remained until the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives were far from being considered achieved. In many countries, progress had been made in enrolling children in primary school; however, there was still much work to be done in many countries, including least developed countries, small and island developing States, and countries recovering from conflict. Further, disparities existed between men and women, rural and urban areas, rich and poor and other groups. The Economic and Social Council needed to pay particular attention to economic and social issues related to education and to take up strategic and economic aspects in order to play a key role in the discussion.
Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, welcomed the Council’s decision to focus on education this year. Recent research suggested that teacher absenteeism was a severe yet under-reported problem, especially in rural areas; as a study by the World Bank showed, nearly one-in-five public school teachers was likely to be absent on any given day. Primary enrolment had expanded dramatically, yet the general education momentum appeared to be stalling in many ways and progress had since slowed measurably. The pervasive nature of poor quality education in rich and poor countries indicated that getting children to school was only part of the battle for improved education. This High-Level Segment offered a critical opportunity to evaluate progress on both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, net enrolment of the world’s primary school age population rose from 82 per cent in 1999 to 88 per cent a decade later, yet roughly 67 million children remained out-of-school today. Progress on education demanded particular fortitude. Unlike investments in vaccines, which paid instant health dividends, education investments typically took years to mature.
The Council then heard keynote addresses from Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Simon Willis, Global Vice President of CISCO; and Juliana Rotich, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Ushahidi.
The Council also heard policy messages stemming from the various regional meetings organized in preparation for the substantive session. In this framework, it heard interventions from the Minister of Education of Qatar outlining the results of the Western Asia Regional Meeting held in Doha, Qatar on 9 December 2010; from the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education of Thailand speaking on the outcomes of the Asia and Pacific Regional Meeting held in Chonburi, Thailand on 24 March 2011; from the Minister of Education of Togo regarding the results of the Africa Regional Meeting held in Lomé, Togo on 12 April 2011; and from the Vice Minister of Education of Argentina on the outcomes of the Latin America and Caribbean Regional Meeting held on 12 and 13 May 2011 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Council began its meeting by adopting its agenda and programme of work for its 2011 substantive session.
In addition to hearing keynote address and policy messages, the Council also held a special policy dialogue on mobilizing resources and partnerships to accelerate the education for all agenda. Participating in the debate were: Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation for Norway; Muhammad Nuh, Minister of National Education for Indonesia; and Wendy Hawkins, Executive Director of the Intel Foundation. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO was the moderator. During the discussion speakers said resource mobilization through multi-stakeholder approaches, including private-public partnerships, and targeted government investment was a key policy in order to achieve Education for All. Speakers also pointed out that in meetings about education everyone usually agreed that education was necessary and that more resources were needed, and then the discussion ceased. Developing countries were responsible for educating their children and resources needed to be mobilized. However, many developing countries were allocating a significant proportion of funds to subsidizing fossil fuel use or on arms. The number one priority for improving education should be a focus on teachers, not only increasing the number of teachers, but also improving their education and the quality of teaching should be priorities. Education policies must address education change, education transformation and employability, and cater to children with no access to education, those with access to schooling but poor education and those unprepared for employment after work. Governments should work in dialogue with universities and businesses in order to ensure the employability of students.
Representatives from the United States, the Republic of Korea, Finland, Save the Children, Senegal and CIVICUS took the floor during the special dialogue.
The next meeting of the Council will be at 2:45 p.m. when it will hear a keynote address from Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Swiss Federation, and hold a special debate on education, human rights and conflict. Also during the afternoon meeting, the Council will hear the national voluntary presentations of Malawi and Germany.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, in his opening address, said that education required far-ranging reforms and the United Nations Economic and Social Council could contribute by adopting a Ministerial Declaration that put education high on the policy agenda and bringing governments together to share their best practices and experiences. At the first preparatory meeting for this year’s review on education, in Doha, regional experts focused on novel approaches to expanding education opportunities for females and other marginalized groups in the Arab States. Reinforcing equity in education was the main emphasis at the Council’s April preparatory meeting held in Lomé. Boosting access to basic education remained a high priority for Africa, particularly in war-torn areas. At the national, regional and global levels big issues confronted governments in the quest to make education a reality for all. Poor quality was a concern, given that standardized tests revealed that many students lacked basic reading, writing and math skills, even after years of formal schooling. Secondary school graduates themselves were often ill-prepared for the workforce and this could be seen by high levels of youth unemployment across much of the world. Continued progress in education would require recruiting, training and retaining good teachers; embracing cost-effective technology; and improving accountability. Mr. Kapambwe indicated that the Council could contribute to educational reform by reaching a consensus that acknowledged the need for greater burden sharing between the developed and the developing countries, and between the private sector and governments, in the education efforts of developing countries as a way to alleviate the negative effects of brain drain on the latter; that acknowledged the need to bring innovative solutions to challenges of access of education, particularly to the girl child in developing countries; that acknowledged the need for education beyond the basic level; and that recognized the need to design curricula that taught relevant skills. Such a consensus was not out of reach and the task was not beyond the power of the collective force of the political will of governments, private sector and civil society.
JOSEPH DEISS, President of Sixty-Fifth Session of the General Assembly, said that the Economic and Social Council was, along with the General Assembly and the Security Council, one of the key inter-governmental bodies of the United Nations and had a key role to play in global governance. In order to be relevant globally, the Economic and Social Council should pay attention to what was being discussed in other forums. The topic of education was the subject of the substantive session of the Council. Education was essential for prosperity, development, the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, social change and the empowerment of women. The positive impact of education on development, health and all Millennium Development Goals had been clearly established. Five years remained until the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the objectives were far from being considered achieved. In many countries, progress had been made in enrolling children in primary school. However, there was still much work to be done in many countries, including least developed countries, small and island developing States and countries recovering from conflict. Further, disparities existed between men and women, rural and urban areas, rich and poor and other groups. The substantive session would contribute to assessing these issues and answering questions as how to ensure universal enrollment. The Economic and Social Council needed to pay particular attention to economic and social issues related to education and to take up strategic and economic aspects in order to play a key role in the discussion. The Council had a key role to play in economic global governance. Mr. Deiss encouraged the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council. The Economic and Social Council needed to address the power of the G-20 and whether the Council was marginalized given the current state of economic global governance. The previous week, the General Assembly held a general debate on economic global governance. The Economic and Social Council, as a key player in economic global governance, and in cooperation with the G-20, was acknowledged, as was the need to reform the Economic and Social Council. The economic competence of the Council needed to be strengthened and its mandate needed to be re-calibrated to better address economic issues. The reform of the Council had begun, but it was important to ensure this momentum continued to move forward.
ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, Deputy United Nations Secretary-General, welcomed the Council’s decision to focus on education this year. Recent research suggested that teacher absenteeism was a severe yet under-reported problem, especially in rural areas; as a study by the World Bank showed, nearly one-in-five public school teachers was likely to be absent on any given day. Primary enrolment had expanded dramatically, yet the general education momentum appeared to be stalling in many ways and progress had since slowed measurably. The pervasive nature of poor quality education in rich and poor countries indicated that getting children to school was only part of the battle for improved education. This High-Level Segment offered a critical opportunity to evaluate progress on both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, net enrolment of the world’s primary school age population rose from 82 per cent in 1999 to 88 per cent a decade later, yet roughly 67 million children remained out-of-school today. Furthermore, the High-Level Segment played an important role in channeling ideas and resources to where they were needed the most, in particular, by advising Governments on how to close the global primary education financing gap, estimated at $ 16 billion. Productivity could be boosted by drawing attention to the ways education funds were spent and monitored and better integrating education into national developing strategies. With 2015 fast approaching, the Council should consider ways to accelerate progress and prepare for the period beyond 2015. Member States and the United Nations must work together towards more practical policy recommendations to better implement existing mandates and towards synergies that were necessary to fulfill the mandate to “deliver as one”. Progress on education demanded particular fortitude. Unlike investments in vaccines, which paid instant health dividends, education investments typically took years to mature. For this reason, with resources stretched and budgets tight, political commitment would be tested more than ever.
GORDON BROWN, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said the international community faced a turning point, a decision point, a fork in the road, where it needed to do all it could to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Otherwise, broken promises, broken dreams and broken trust would prevail. The international community said it would achieve all Millennium Development Goals, and as was the subject of the Economic and Social Council, ensure all children went to school. If this goal was not achieved, trust between developing and developed countries would be broken. Mr. Brown said 67 million children did not go to school. The current economic conditions made it more difficult for these children to go to school. According to some estimates, if the unfortunate economic conditions continued, soon, 75 million children would not be attending school. This could result in 1.2 billion young people without employment and economic opportunity - all due to a failure on the part of the international community to act to ensure universal school enrollment. In the United Kingdom, 100,000 pounds were spent on each child, from the beginning of primary school to the end of secondary schooling. In Africa, the average expenditure was 300 pounds. The average child received only four years of schooling. This lack of opportunity, as seen in Egypt and Tunisia, could catalyze major political change. The lack of access to education was a crisis of empathy and equity. Broken trust was prevalent worldwide. Promises had been made and the international community had failed to deliver. Before 2015 arrived, it was necessary to keep the promises made, renew the dream of education for all and renew trust between rich and poor countries. Mr. Brown stated there was no technical, physical or any other barrier, besides political will, for making education for all possible. Training teachers and building classrooms were necessary, but no scientific genius was required. Technological advances made achieving education for all possible. However, a plan for the next four years was required. A global movement was required. People in all countries needed to be mobilized to action. A global fund for education, like the global fund for health, would help to realize the goal of education for all.
IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said 20 years ago, the World Conference on Education for All launched in Jomtien, Thailand, had emphasized the importance of education for development. More recently, the 2010 Human Development Report indicated that countries which made considerable investments on education 40 years ago had made the greatest progress. Since the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, an additional 52 million children had gained access to primary education. South-East Asia had reduced their out-of-school population by half but the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa spent after 10 years 6 per cent more on education. New media, mobile telecommunication and social networks had revolutionized the life of students and teachers and cultural diversity offered new resources. Several gaps on equity, quality and financing remained to be bridged. Inequalities of wealth, gender, ethnicity, language, location and disability were holding progress back. The 2011 Global Monitoring Report on “The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education” showed that 40 per cent of the world’s 67 million out-of-school children lived in only 35 conflict-affected countries. UNESCO was running the largest educational programme in Afghanistan and led work on teacher training, curriculum development and the rehabilitation of higher education, and a “Literacy Initiative” to reach some 5 million illiterates by 2015, in Iraq. Improving the quality of education required the prioritization of teacher education, training and recruitment in national goals, as the “Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa (2006-2015) aimed to do. The financing gap must be addressed, including the $ 16 billion gap needed for low-income countries to reach the goals of Education for All. Current aid levels were insufficient and Governments should invest out of the current crisis through education and the international community must meet the commitment it has made. Strengthening coordination between the Education for All convening agencies and partners like the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization was needed. In order to engage in a new global solidarity compact and start setting the agenda for after 2015, renewed commitments were necessary to bridge these key gaps.
SIMON WILLIS, Global Vice President of Cisco, said it was a privilege to continue working with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations and other international bodies, in improving girls access to education and information technology. Mr. Willis was pleased to provide the private sector perspective on education. Cisco specialized in networking and collaboration. Many years ago, Cisco stepped up to the challenge that an insufficient number of people, especially engineers, were available to keep up with expertise demanded by a proliferation of networks. Cisco started a programme, in collaboration with international and national partners, for education in networking and information technology. Cisco investments in education were beneficial to local communities and also the information technology sector. Cisco had pushed for increased participation of girls and women, which was particularly tough in engineering, entrepreneurship and information technology as these were seen as male professions in many countries. Cisco had decided to take lessons learned from this programme to work with national education systems to use information technology to increase the speed technology and the effectiveness of teaching and teacher training. It was essential to incorporate three different sectors. The public sector funded, top-down model was failing and would continue to fail. While still regulated by the public sector, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society needed to join in efforts to improve access to education. In a world of distributive and interconnected networks, there had been a paradigm shift in the way authority was wielded and education disseminated. The central-led approach to educational problems had broken down in this environment. New technologies had unlocked the empowerment of communities, parents and students to take part in the co-creation of education. It was sometimes difficult to manage this environment, as it could tend towards anarchy, but increased resources, flexibility and creativity unlocked in learner-centered systems produced significant educational gains. It was also important to blend the real and human with the technical. Information technology could scale up and reach many with the sensitive and smart deployment of these technologies.
JULIANA ROTICH, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Ushadi, introduced a social development network to be implemented in Kenya. The platform allowed citizens to evaluate and make demands on services, from governments and other providers, by deploying web and mobile-based platforms to effectively aggregate and communicate citizens’ observations directly to the authorities and service providers through text (sms), video and voice messaging technology. Citizens and service consumers did not rely on suggestion boxes anymore, and often Governments were not responsive and non-governmental organizations spoke for themselves. For this reason, the platform would allow citizens and users to communicate their needs to providers more effectively. In the context of United Nations calls for citizens’ feedback, this model provided a new mechanism to obtain information directly from the public and ensure accountability of service delivery. Through contributing to data collection, the public became a partner in addressing many pressing problems. This model challenged the rigid categories of academic quantitatively and qualitative studies and linked objective reality through subjective experience and accounts. Ms. Rotich asked the United Nations to extend its framework to allow for the inclusion of the view from the ground. The expected results would assess resource allocation, management and cases bases on citizens’ voices, and sub-national information that had been unavailable until now. This platform provided a great opportunity to leverage the open data movement and to couple with the voices of the public to get their feedback, in particular, service delivery. Even though the implementation of the pilot programme would take place in Kenya, the programme was open-sourced and could be used in other places.
Policy Messages from Annual Ministerial Review Preparatory Meetings
SAAD BIN IBRAHIM AL MAHMOUD, Minister of Education and Higher Education and Secretary General of the Supreme Education Council of Qatar, presented the report on the Regional Preparatory Meeting for West Asia on “Innovative Approaches to Reaching Women, Girls and the Marginalized in the Arab Region”. Participants recognized that while countries in the region had made progress towards achieving universal primary education, little progress had been achieved in the past three years to retain children in schools or prevent drop-outs. Progress towards education objectives in the region was very uneven. Some countries had made significant progress on increasing girls’ enrollment, but others had failed to make progress due to poverty, conflict and occupation, as well as cultural and gender stereotypes. Further international support was needed, in particular through new and voluntary approaches including South-South cooperation, to finance education. The Doha meeting recalled the importance of the private sector in facilitating the transition from basic education, vocational training, higher and non-formal education into the labour market. The meeting also emphasized the need to increase the number of teachers and to enhance the quality of teaching through multisectoral policies addressing recruitment, training, retention, professional development, evaluation, employment and the status of teachers. Investments on school infrastructure should provide support for principals and school managers, sanitary and other facilities for girls, thus removing key obstacles for their education. Education for All was not only a goal and a right in itself, but an essential condition to achieve all other Millennium Development Goals. Further efforts were necessary to realize the right to education, including in emergency situations, and to increase access to quality education, in particular for children with special needs and those living in rural or marginalized areas. The meeting also urged countries to remove financial barriers to education; provide gender-friendly services in teaching and learning environments; increase national and international funding for education and to foster targeting resources; eradicate gender stereotypes in curricula and teaching practices; and to make innovative use of information and communication technologies, especially for the marginalized.
CHURAIRAT SANGBOONNUM, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Thailand, stated that a one-day Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting on “Education and the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals” took place in Jomtien- Pattaya, Thailand in March 2011. The overall regional outlook for reaching many of the Millennium Development Goals was positive. The Asia Pacific region had seen a significant rise in primary school enrollment to 95 per cent. In addition, gender parity had been achieved or was on track at all levels of education. However, these achievements were overshadowed by considerable disparities both among and within countries. Raising levels of attainment of education would enhance employability and increase the earning capacity of individuals as well as help drive the much needed innovation leading to economic growth in the region. The meeting also considered direct links between education and progress toward the Millennium Development Goals health-related targets. Pre- and post- natal health care services and the prevalence of tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and other diseases were discussed. An urgent need to address young people’s right to comprehensive sexual and reproductive education services was highlighted. Concrete actions and policy measures were included in the Jomtien Statement issued from the Tenth Meeting of the High Level Group on Education for All. The need for national governments to allocate at least 6 per cent of gross national product or not less than 20 per cent of public expenditure minimum to education and to ensure cost effective use of resources was reiterated. Also highlighted was the fact that education financing should be strengthened through existing south-south and triangular cooperation as well as through innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors. National governments were urged to ensure their education systems supported the development of quality lifelong learning opportunities from the early years through childhood. Effective resource mobilization and the development of relevant curricula were identified as crucial factors. Emphasis was also given to the need to attract and provide qualified and motivated teachers.
ESSOSSIMNA LEGZIM-BALOUKI, Minister of Literacy and Primary and Secondary Education of Togo, presenting the report of the Africa Regional Meeting, said it addressed the Right to Education for All in Africa, and the need for improving quality and strengthening equity in education. Participants indicated that Education for All should be seen as part of education-related Millennium Development Goals. Concerning progress in education, there were very uneven results in Africa, large numbers of children remained without access to primary and secondary schooling. Concerning equity, participants recommended the involvement of stakeholders in the education system and efforts needed to be made to succeed in educational reform. The obstacles to improve educational quality were manifold, including cultural and material, affecting the performance of school children and vulnerable families who needed assistance. Comprehensive policies addressing teachers were necessary including recruitment, training and support. Country experiences and best practices to achieve the Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals could contribute to the development and implementation of new governance and school management models, as well as teaching strategies, and taking clear steps on consensus-based implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Participants reaffirmed the primacy of the right to education and the need to incorporate it in national constitutions. Dedicating resources to implement legislation and education instruments and to improve the quality of education, in particular, the strengthening of initial education and continuous education of teachers was also necessary. Improving equity at all levels was necessary in order to assure equal opportunity regardless of social, gender, ethnic, physical fitness or other factors. Governments should aim at making optimal use of resources to achieve priorities and objectives of existing strategic plans, in particular, the achievement of Education for All. Promoting a political commitment and determination to achieve financing for educational reforms was also important as well as to promote the contribution of all stakeholders to educational reform, and to ensure that schools remained open and involved in fighting against poverty while addressing gender issues, and protected vulnerable children. The link between the right to education and the right to work was important. Special efforts should be made to include marginalized children in educational programmes and to eliminate fees for primary education, making accessible free primary education for all.
EDUARDO ARAGUNDI, Under-Secretary for Education Planning of the Ministry of Education of Argentina, reporting on the Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Meeting, held in Buenos Aires in May 2011, said that the Regional Project for Education for Latin America and the Caribbean had emphasized that education was a human right. This right was exercised in accessing education and in continuing individual human development, with the help of quality education throughout one’s life. Significant challenges to accessing education remained. Education was vital for generating economic growth, reducing social inequality, ending social discrimination and exclusion, ameliorating social cohesion and strengthening democratic values. At the meeting in May 2011, quality was emphasized as a main concern. A number of other topics were covered and countries agreed that the agenda to strengthen the capacity of teachers needed to be based on the recommendations of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Teacher training needed to take into account pedagogical abilities, learning achievements and the capacity of teachers to reflect on their own practice. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean needed to consider training, professional development, certification and changes in the teacher career base according to quality and performance. It was important take into account infrastructure, equipment, resource management and training. Efforts in different countries needed to be connected and learned from. The region had demonstrated significant progress in improving the access and structure of education, but improvements in quality were still needed. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean agreed to sustain national and regional assessments, without precluding international involvement.
Special Policy Dialogue on “Accelerating Education for All : Mobilizing resources and partnerships”
IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said the session was an opportunity to build on the high-level meetings on education recently held. This session of the Economic and Social Council emphasized the urgent need to reach the Education for All goal. Work was not on track to meet this goal. Donors and international institutions had not allocated enough of their work to Education for All, whether on scaling up literacy or improving education in the early years of the child. Improving the quality of education at all levels and making equity a measure of educational goals at all levels were necessary. Chronic under-financing put efforts on a route to failure. There was a financing gap in developing countries in achieving Education for All goals. Ms. Bokova asked how countries could mobilize more national resources and use these resources more efficiently and equitably in an economic context that had changed dramatically. She inquired how to change aid for education with the increasing pressure to cut fiscal expenditures. The International Fund for Supporting Education was in need of replenishment. Aid effectiveness could be enhanced by working together on the basis of the Paris Declaration. Another concern related to public-private partnerships. Ms. Bokova asked how countries and institutions could make the best of partnerships on the ground. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was working to strengthen advocacy and partnership with the private sector. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had launched a global initiative for girls and women with the private sector.
Present were representatives of key constituencies from the private and public sector and Ms. Bokova welcomed the opportunity to discuss education with such a range of stakeholders. Indonesia, for example, had made significant progress in improving access to education, under very special circumstances. Ms. Bokova asked the Minister of Education of Indonesia how to maximize the effectiveness of limited national resources. The Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway was also present and Ms. Bokova commended Norway for allocating more than one per cent of gross domestic product to aid. Ms. Bokova asked the Minister how developed countries could make good on their Education for All commitments, how aid could be made more effective and what alternative sources of financing were available.
MUHAMMAD NUH, Minister of National Education of Indonesia, said that education was a top priority for national development. In 2002 a constitutional amendment committed the Government to allocate at least 20 per cent of its budget to finance education, a three-fold increase of the funding level in 2000. Indonesia had made strong commitments to ensure the achievement of the Education for All goal, primary education was now close to universal with an enrolment rate over 95 per cent and junior secondary over 98 per cent. Indonesia managed a large educational system, including 44 million students in primary education, across 200,000 schools and with over 2.8 million teachers. The two-fold strategy addressed both the supply side and issues of quality. It guaranteed the availability of affordable education for every child along with the promotion of social awareness, on the basis of increased funding. An affirmative policy of resource mobilization targeted children from poorer families, remote areas, outer islands and border areas, and provided scholarships for 13 per cent of the student body. An integrative strategy included primary and junior secondary schooling under a single roof, technology-enhanced learning and boarding schools. A National Education Standards and Comprehensive Education Quality Assurance System were established and minimum service standards were implemented to assist under-developed and under-resources areas. A National Examination was also established to monitor quality and improved management of human resources, teaching qualification and remuneration. Resource mobilization through multi-stakeholder approaches, including private-public partnerships, and targeted government investment was a key policy in order to achieve Education for All.
ERIK SOLHEIM, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation of Norway, raised the subject of Southern Sudan, where there was nothing in terms of educational facilities – no rooms, no equipment, no school books, no roofs and no salaries – and yet teachers continued to work in the spirit of educating the young. Education was of absolute importance. Mr. Solheim stated that in meetings about education, most usually, everyone agreed that education was necessary and that more resources were needed, and then the discussion ceased. Many developing countries had been incredibly successful. Indonesia was a case in point that when the political will was there, significant achievements could be made. Developing countries were responsible for educating their children and resources needed to be mobilized. However, many developing countries were allocating a significant proportion of funds to subsidizing fossil fuel use or on arms. New forms of development aid were being advanced by new donors, including China, India and Brazil. Development aid was rising worldwide. The number one priority for improving education should be a focus on teachers. Increasing the number of teachers but also improving their education and thus the quality of teaching should be priorities. Countries had made significant strides in improving education by abolishing school fees, as was the case in Burundi. Rwanda was a shining example, which had achieved one hundred per cent enrollment. The liberal policy that one should pay for schooling was a mistake. Access to education for vulnerable groups, including girls, certain ethnic groups and people with disabilities, should be emphasized. The issue of language, a contentious aspect in certain countries, needed to be raised. Children sometimes attended school without understanding the language employed in the classroom.
WENDY HAWKINS, Executive Director of the Intel Foundation, said that education could have a transformational effect on empowering individuals. For this reason education and the importance of education were in the DNA and soul of Intel and investments on education, for over 40 million children around the world every year, amounted to over a billion dollars since 2000. The Intel Teach Programme, established in 2000, had trained nearly 10 million teachers around the world to bring information technology into their classrooms and improve students’ employability by fostering problem-solving and team-work. The overwhelming majority of those teachers were women and they had become role models in their classrooms, showing that women were and could be competent users of technology, owners of that technology and the changes technology could bring to their lives. The Intel Learn Programme provided basic computer skills training and applying this skills to solving practical problems. This work reflected how governments could work effectively with corporations to improve equity and use education to bring real and positive change around the world. Intel practiced its philanthropy also working in close partnership with the governments where programmes were implemented, seeking to produce systemic change. Real and lasting effect must be achieved to bring about internal-led transformational changes in countries. Intel helped develop systems which were cost-effective where technology could serve as an inspiration for the design of educational programmes. Intel was interested in furthering collaboration with other corporations and was currently implementing the ATC21S Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills evaluation, in collaboration with Cisco and Microsoft. Reflecting on the conclusions of the recent “Global Philanthropy Event to Boost Funding for Education”, Ms. Hawkins indicated that education policies must address education change, education transformation and employability, and cater for children with no access to education, those with access to schooling but poor education and those unprepared for employment after work. Governments should work in dialogue with universities and businesses in order to ensure the employability of the student.
RICK BARTON (United States) expressed its appreciation for the discussion and presentations made. The United States, regarding the presentation by Norway, which emphasized the quality of teachers as well as the emphasis of Intel on the subject, asked for information about the most compelling practices in improving the quality of teachers and recruiting teachers. If there was such an ambitious, global goal of Education for All, there had to be examples of successful teacher recruitment.
ERIK SOLHEIM, Minister of Environment and International Development of Norway, said that Finland had succeeded in making teaching a high-status job. Finnish students wanted to be teachers, while Norwegian students more often wanted to be football or movie stars. Mr. Solheim recommended asking the Finnish about efforts in this regard. There had been a social transformation in Finland, as the salaries of teachers were not that high. In Ghana, increasing the number of teachers had been successful because it had mobilized its resources, such as retired teachers or teachers outside the system in other professions.
IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said that the teacher training launched with Microsoft was a good example of using public-private partnerships and international technology for teacher training. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization supported teacher training, as the host of international teacher trainer task force and teacher training initiatives across Africa.
WENDY HAWKINGS, Executive Director of the Intel Foundation, said that computers were not magic, teachers were. The Intel Foundation had invested millions of dollars in teacher development, and thus the subjects evoked in the Council touched on many priorities for Intel. In many countries, the role of technology could help to mitigate or provide a bridge to skills lacked by teachers in the classroom. One important model was referred to as the flipped classroom. This was effective in bolstering the skills of teachers, whether in weak or strong classrooms. The flipped classroom made it possible for students to listen to lectures by experts prepared in their own time. This allowed for more time in the classroom for interaction between teachers and students, providing teachers the opportunity to guide students through learning, foster debate and even change their relationships with pupils.
SHEILA SISULU,of World Food Program, speaking in a joint statement, made recommendations with regards to food security and hunger. Governments should mainstream education for rural people within national plans and monitor their implementation, including through school-feeding, rural development, agriculture and poverty reduction policies, and measures at national and decentralized levels. Effective policies should be established and implemented by enhancing collaboration between Education and Agriculture Ministries; high quality and relevant materials, including non-traditional and vocational programmes to empower rural people beyond traditional education that utilized telecommunications and promoted South-South and North-South cooperation should be developed. They suggested that the Governments shared knowledge and good practices and supported activities that promoted entrepreneurship in rural areas. Almost two thirds of the world’s populations lived in rural areas and lacked access to good education.
BAE SEONG GEUN (Republic of Korea) said that the Republic of Korea had expanded its efforts to contribute balanced and sustainable global development and emphasized the importance of education as a basis for development, even amidst difficult circumstances, as the Republic of Korea found itself after war. The importance of education for development was reflected in the Korean experience and the determination to escape poverty through education. Given the importance of national plans for the achievement of progress in education and thus the goals of Education for All, the Republic of Korea proposed that the international community supported the efforts of Governments to establish systematic national plans and indicated that educational policies should be linked to national economic policies, promoting decentralization through public-private partnerships. The Republic of Korea was supporting, in collaboration with UNESCO, activists’ efforts towards the improvement of education in Africa.
JORMA JULIN (Finland) said as Finland was mentioned by Minister Solheim, Finland felt it was important to mention its experience. As Minister Solheim mentioned, it was not the salary, but the working conditions of teachers that inspired interest in the profession in Finland. There were also incentives available to teachers, such as continuous training to keep teachers updated and motivated. In Finland, there were many more applicants for teaching positions than positions available. Teachers were highly respected. Teachers could achieve miracles but could not do so alone. Municipalities and other government institutions needed to provide good working conditions. Finland agreed with the Republic of Korea when it stated that education was an important element for economic success.
GOREL BOGARDE, of Save the Children, said that Minister Solheim had mentioned the importance of focusing on the vulnerable children in fragile or conflict-ridden States. Save the Children often thought of these children as falling in a blind spot but now knew how to better address education for these children. A displaced child could spend up to 12 years away from home. Parents, children and their communities desired to improve access to education. Save the Children asked the panellists for their advice on reaching children in conflict zones.
IRINA BOKOVA, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said the recent report, Hidden Children in Crisis, brought information to light about children in disaster and conflict-ridden countries. In these areas, 18 million children reportedly did not attend school. Only 2 per cent of aid to education went to countries in conflict. Education was then left to the development stage, but when countries moved from the conflict stage to development stage was unclear. Two days previously, Ms. Bokova said she had participated in a side-event held by Germany in New York, with the participation of major representatives of major non-governmental organizations, to promote the importance of enlarging the scope the monitoring mechanisms, including education of the children in conflict, in the context of the United Nations Security Council.
ERIK SOLHEIM, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation of Norway, endorsed the view expressed by Save the Children concerning the primary importance of life. Nonetheless, he argued, physical destruction of infrastructure was less important than loss of life, however it implied serious losses in human capital when they conveyed the loss of educational opportunities. Efforts must be made to ensure that education programmes continued in conflict contexts, for instance, as the authorities in Nepal and Mali did to promote education despite ongoing political confrontation. The Republic of Korea was an inspiring example, after the war it was one of the poorest countries in the world, and it remained an important success story.
KALIDOU DIALLO (Senegal) said that for Senegal, the Government had made enormous efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and to continue to fund education. In many French speaking counties in Africa, the reduction in the numbers of teachers, motivation and funding were fuelling strikes which had a negative effect on education; Senegal called upon the international associations of teachers to declare a moratorium on strikes until 2015. Traditional education did not stand up to its commitments with regards to public schools. In order for State efforts to be successful, schools must be modernized and offer good services. Finally, Senegal appealed to donors to foster fast track initiatives to make contributions more effective.
RENATE BLOEM, of CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation,, inquired how governments could raise the role of civil society in providing education and in being relevant to the quality of education. Education needed to be relevant for people in rural areas. CIVICUS asked how education could empower if it was not relevant to people on the ground. CIVICUS asked how girls could be retained in school and thus become a driver in making society better. CIVICUS inquired how the Economic and Social Council could be made to be a more effective, legitimate and expert pillar of economic global governance.
WENDY HAWKINS, Executive Director of the Intel Foundation, said the retention and participation of girls in school was an emerging priority for the Intel Foundation. The Intel Foundation was commissioning a film entitled Ten Times Ten, about girls in school, highlighting how education had been transformative in their lives. The goal of producing this film was to catalyze interest in improving the access and quality of education for girls. The Brookings Institution had produced a report that emphasized the way corporations could engage with governments on education and vice versa. This report captured the opportunities of cooperating with corporations. Ms. Hawkins had recently been discussing with corporate philanthropists to assess how philanthropy would change in the future, and this report foreshadowed many of the changes to come.
MUHAMMAD NUH, Minister of National Education of Indonesia, addressed the importance of ensuring the continuity of education in the aftermath of natural disasters. In reference to the impact of the tsunami and earthquake, Mr. Nuh stressed the importance of rebuilding educational infrastructure and ensuring the availability of teachers in disaster-stricken areas and stressed the importance of providing support for students. With regards to the role of civil society in education, he noted that Indonesia implemented special programmes in rural areas to strengthen support for students.
ERIK SOLHEIM, Minister of the Environment and Development Cooperation of Norway, reiterated the view expressed by Muhammad Nuh concerning education amidst natural disasters. The experience of Indonesia was a success story and its Government should make an effort to disseminate it as an example, in particular the effort to extend peace by reaching out to rebels. Mr. Solheim welcomed the focus on teachers, recognized the contribution of Finland by sharing its success story in this regard, and urged UNESCO to compile such success stories, including those examples on how to promote the interest in the profession among qualified people. Regarding the Norwegian experience, he emphasized efforts to secure gender equality. The active involvement of women to achieve equality played an important role in radically transforming the country. Today, over 40 per cent of members of Parliament were women and by law 40 per cent of companies’ board-members should be women.
For use of the information media; not an official record