ECOSOC CONTINUES GENERAL DEBATE ON IMPLEMENTING INTERNATIONALLY AGREED GOALS AND COMMITMENTS IN REGARD TO EDUCATION
Countries Re-affirm their Commitment to the Millennium Development Goal on Education and Call for Increased Funding for Educational Objectives
6 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council this afternoon continued its general debate on implementing the internally agreed goals and commitments on education and on current global and national trends and challenges and their impact on education.
In the general debate, speakers said the decision to highlight the internationally agreed goals in education as the priority theme for the 2011 Economic and Social Council substantive session was particularly auspicious. Speakers particularly welcomed the emphasis on the importance of girls’ access to and retention in quality education. The Annual Ministerial Review provided valuable analysis on the progress made to date and what remained to be done if education goals were to be reached. Speakers emphasized that education was the best agent for eradicating poverty and galvanizing development. Globally there had been significant progress in getting children into school, but progress was slowing. Changes in a digitized world enabled developing and emerging countries to leapfrog the digital divide to transform traditional forms of classrooms and teaching processes. Speakers shared their experiences in improving education through policies and programmes. They highlighted efforts to prioritize education in pursuing development, including primary education, schooling for girls and vocational and higher education.
Education-related development goals could only be reached with greater international efforts. Speakers emphasized the need for an inclusive education system that reached out to the poor and marginalized groups. International cooperation had a central role to play in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals. The economic and financial crisis should not be used as an excuse for shifting funding from education to other policy areas, particularly in international development assistance. Securing financing for education could not be stressed enough. The financing needs remained tremendous and thus meeting educational goals required mobilizing sources of funding outside the public sector. Investments in education were investments in the future, and the burden of providing education should not be borne exclusively by governments. Speakers agreed that civil society had an essential role to play in meeting goals in education, particularly in providing informal educational opportunities, reaching marginalized and poor groups and providing education in rural areas.
Taking the floor this afternoon were Frederick D. Barton, Representative of the United States to the Economic and Social Council, Fernando Rojas, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, A. Gopinathan, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Shukuru Kawambwa, Minister for Education and Vocational Training of Tanzania, Ruben Dario Reinoso, Vice-Minister for Academic Development, Ministry of the People’s Power for High-Level Education of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nafisa Shah, Member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, V.K. Bunwaree, Minister of Economic and Human Resources of Mauritius, Peter Gooderham, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations Office at Geneva, He Yafei, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Vesna Vukovic, Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mykola Maimeskul, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Jean-Baptiste Mattéi, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Sang-ki Park, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Latif Labida, Minister in Charge of School Education of Morocco, Roberto Flores Bermudez, Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Maria Nazareth Farani Azvedo, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Kristinn F. Arnason, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Luvuya Ndimeni, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Hamza Omar Hassan Ahmed, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, Nancy Madrigal, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Monsignor Silvano M. Tomasi, Permanent Observer for the Holy See to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The following non-governmental organizations also took the floor: International Federation of University Women, Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in consultative relationship with the United Nations, Legion of Good Will, Baha’i International Community, World Association of Girl Guids and Girls Scouts, Terres des Hommes, New Future Foundation Inc, World Vision International, Soroptimist International, European Disability Forum, Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrize Salesiane di Don Bosco, Convention of Independent Financial Advisors, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, World Information Transfer, Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research, International Forum for Child Welfare and World Jewelry Confederation.
Also this afternoon, in a parallel meeting, Turkey, Mexico and Qatar provided national voluntary presentations followed by interactive discussions.
The next meeting of the Council will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 7 July 2011, when it will hold a special policy dialogue on education challenges in Africa and least developed countries. At 3 p.m., the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, will make a keynote address, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, will make a statement. From 3:30 p.m. onwards, the Council will continue with the general debate on implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education.
FREDERICK D. BARTON, Representative of the United States to the Economic and Social Council, said that education transformed individual lives and empowered individuals, in particular in the case of women, increasing average income and promoting stronger societies. The United States was interested in promoting education and further recognized the contribution of education to peaceful transitions, sustaining democratic governance and promoting peaceful societies. Official development aid dedicated to education was higher than ever in support of the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals. The United States’ strategy leading to 2015 would improve reading skills for children, develop relevant skills around the world, and assist 15 million learners in conflict situations, by promoting work with multilateral partners. The United States was implementing the new global partnership for girls education with UNESCO and had partnered with UNICEF working in Benin and camps in Cameroon. During the last decade, the international community had made great progress in education, however, there remained 796 million illiterate adults, two thirds of them women, and access to higher level education remained limited, in particular for girls. Sharing experiences on efforts to make delivery more efficient and cost effective, and strengthening teachers’ forces, including the private sector and other non-traditional partners in the conversation, for example charitable foundations, should be shared. Both the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals would soon expire but the underlying challenges would continue and had to be addressed.
FERNANDO ROJAS, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that education made it possible to fulfill human potential and promote solid human resources, it also allowed individuals to acquire skills and knowledge and to face new challenges in competitive societies, and made them aware of their rights, life prospects and possibilities. Peru had increased its budget by 44 per cent to modernize education and guarantee better training for teachers, and illiteracy had been reduced to less than 3 per cent. The gender gap had generally been bridged at all levels, leading to higher female participation in secondary and tertiary education. Poverty and ethnic differences led to marginalization, and it was necessary to take account of children with disabilities as well as those from migrant and ethnic groups and rural children, to ensure quality education and equal opportunities. A broad legal framework and policies were formulated to overcome discrimination against children and adolescents and to improve the quality of education in rural and remote areas. Projects had been implemented to gather lessons learnt; to integrate communication and information technologies to promote education in remote and rural areas with extreme poverty; and to improve the teaching process. Governmental efforts should be complemented by civil society to provide inclusive education and solidarity to ensure that quality education could reach an increasing number of Peruvians.
Mr. A. GOPINATHAN, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the theme of this year’s annual ministerial review provided an opportunity to focus on an issue that was not only a fundamental human right, but also a catalyst for the achievement of many other development goals. The Secretary-General’s overview of emerging trends was a sobering reminder of the significant challenges in making sustainable progress in education. India took note of the Secretary-General’s recommendations that emphasized improving the efficiency and effectiveness in current domestic spending, policy coherence, investment in teachers and other areas. India concurred with the Secretary-General’s stress on crucial inter-linkages between education, health, poverty and gender equality. In India’s national context, education had consistently been put at the center of development policy. India had pursued a multi-pronged strategy for educational goals. The Right to Education Act in 2009 guaranteed free and compulsory education to all children aged six to fourteen. India’s commitment to achieving gender parity in education had led to more literate females than males. India remained conscious of the challenges that continued to be daunting, including those pertaining to quality of education delivery and gender disparity. India remained committed to sharing its development experience with other developing countries.
SHUKUR KAWAMBWA, Minister for Education and Vocational Training of Tanzania, said the main challenge was translating the concept of sustainable development into reality for the world’s people. This started even before primary education and continued throughout life. Education systems needed to embrace humanity’s relationship with the environment in a sustainable manner. The expansion of Education for All ranked high among the priorities of the Government of Tanzania. From 2005 to 2010, increased enrolment of both girls and boys at all levels of education, increased numbers of teachers and classrooms and improved management capacity at all levels were key achievements. The recent financial crisis came without warning, and the massive response far exceeded the small needs to overcome all the education challenges. It was imperative that the financial crisis should not undermine sustainable investment in education in developing countries. Education was the best agent for change for the eradication of poverty and galvanizing development.
RUBEN DARIO REINOSO, Vice-Minister for Academic Development, Ministry of the People’s Power for High-Level Education, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, said the commitment and contributions of Venezuela to the Economic and Social Council were evident in its voluntary presentation and participation in its different bodies, in line with the importance given to social issues and the environment, and with the legitimate desire and aspiration to play a positive role in improving the working methods to conduct democratic governance in the multilateral system. Education was a constitutionally-oriented mandate that guided the integral development of the human being, strengthening national identity, and the formation of a culture of peace, social justice, respect for human rights and the practice of equity and social inclusion. Enrolment in higher education, pubic and cost-free, had increased by 170 per cent in the past eleven years. Venezuela increased investments in education from 3.38 per cent of its GDP in 1998 to 7 per cent in 2009. University education had been decentralized and reached over two million university students, the consolidation of the Mission Sucre strategy for decentralization of education and the consolidation of Mission Alma Mater, which ensured the transformation of the technology school and colleges into Territorial Polytechnic Universities. The Government had guaranteed everyone’s right to education as a human right and a public good and also provided an intercultural context that took into account the contributions of ethnic groups (white, Indian and of African descent).
NAFISA SHAH, Member of the National Assembly and Chairperson of Pakistan’s Commission on Human Development, said that education was a starting point for the development of human personality and was key to reducing inequalities. The deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals was fast approaching, yet achievements were limited. High unemployment had devastated livelihoods in many developing countries and food and energy price hikes, which in averages constituted fifty to seventy per cent of poor households’ income, had a strong impact on education spending by families. Furthermore, there was a mismatch between education provided and market requirements. Resource availability was one of the biggest challenges to the prospects of realizing the Millennium Development Goal on education. The world had the resources, financial and technical, to address the challenges, what was required was the political will to do so. It was a fundamental duty of national governments to overcome weaknesses and deficiencies, as it was equally essential that commitments of assistance made by developed countries were honoured. There was need for financial and technical assistance to improve the quality of education and teacher training. Pakistan had introduced a new education policy in 2009, addressing issues of equity, and aligning the learning experience of students with domestic market demands as well as of the global economy, and it remained committed to provide education that allowed children to contribute to economic growth and national cohesion.
Mr. V.K. BUNWAREE, Minister of Economic and Human Resources of Mauritius, said Mauritius was well on the way to achieving the internally agreed goals in the field of education. A history of free education for all up to full-time undergraduate studies at Mauritius’s major university and compulsory education up to the age of 16 had been instrumental in opening access to education for all. Girls outperformed boys both qualitatively and quantitatively. Mr. Bunwaree stressed four major pre-requisites to be borne in view of the positive impact they had on education as a whole. All education systems needed to come to terms with the issue of inclusion. Developing and emerging economies should place a premium on multi-stakeholder consultations to prioritize developing educational policies. It was especially important to listen to the voice of youth. Policies should aim at the holistic development of learners, establishing an equilibrium between purely academic pursuits and overall value-based education was cardinal. Changes in a digitised world enabled developing and emerging countries to leapfrog the digital divide to transform traditional forms of classrooms and teaching processes. The challenges were essentially two fold: sustainability and empowerment without which the goal of any education provision would never be fully met.
PETER GOODERHAM, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the Annual Ministerial Review provided a valuable analysis of the progress made to date and what remained to be done if goals were to be reached. Mr. Gooderham particularly welcomed the emphasis on the importance of girls’ access to and retention in quality education. Globally there had been significant progress in getting children into school, but the progress was slowing. Mr. Gooderham believed that distance and costs should not prevent children from attending school regularly year on year. The Government of the United Kingdom had prioritized spending on programmes to help provide access to basic services, including education. Mr. Gooderham said the Government of the United Kingdom believed education was a basic human right that transformed lives. Education-related development goals could only be reached with greater international efforts which would build a foundation of opportunity for future generations.
HE YAFEI, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that countries had made commitments and efforts to increase educational opportunities and China welcomed the reports of the Secretary-General and the progress made by the international community in the field of education. School enrolment rates had increased across the world, particularly in developing regions. However, a large number of children, particularly in low income countries affected by conflict, remained without access to schooling; similarly children from marginalized and poor areas were more likely to drop-out. China believed education was the basis for sustainable development and was striving to build a harmonious world in the interest of peace and development, building peace and common prosperity. Developed countries should deliver on their Millennium Development Goals commitments; countries should abide by the principles of Education for All and ensure justice in their educational system. Investments including for teaching training and infrastructure were needed to ensure that steady and adequate resources were dedicated to education. Human talent was a strategic resource for a country’s development. In 2003 the Government published a plan for Education for All, and had built the largest education system in the world and continued to work to improve its quality; it had also reduced by half the number of people suffering from poverty and hunger. As a responsible developing country China had provided assistance to other developing countries, providing scholarships and training, for example, to African countries. Continued efforts should be made to achieve internationally agreed targets.
VESNA VUKUVIC, Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that education was at the heart of achieving virtually all the Millennium Development Goals and, given the proximity to the deadline, a fast track should be implemented in order to come the closest possible to achieving the education-related goals. In Croatia, harmonization of education within the European Community started with the adoption of the Science and Higher Education Act; and, in order to promote the successful inclusion into work, economy and modern knowledge based technology, attention had been given to specialist vocational education and training under the Vocational Education and Training Act, in line with the Strategy for the Development of Vocational Education and Training 2008-2013. Efforts had also been made to connect schools in islands with small populations to schools in larger cities using real time communication technologies. Croatia was constantly investing in the modernization of school curricula and teacher training, through the introduction of information and communications technology. The Government was engaged in the development assistance in Afghanistan, and expected that education would remain high on the international agenda in order to achieve consistent and sustainable progress in the goals of Education for All.
MYKOLA MAIMESKUL, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that as mentioned in the “Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010”, the international community was still a long way from attaining the goal of universal primary education, despite the decreasing number of non-school attending children worldwide. Ukraine was concerned that gender-based violence, discrimination and harassment still hindered girls’ and women’s access to education in many countries. Ukraine acknowledged the strong linkage between education and all six priorities of the UN-Women Strategic Plan for 2011-2013. With regard to the increasing role of information and communication technologies in providing access to education for all, Ukraine believed it was important to take strong measures to protect children and adolescents from Internet content which could be inappropriate. Ukraine recognized that high-quality education was fundamental for countries’ success. In Ukraine, access to education was generally guaranteed. Still, challenges remained for Ukraine in the educational domain, namely achieving compliance of the national education system with the present needs of the labour market and overcoming discrepancies between the training of specialists’ and employers’ demands.
JEAN-BAPTISTE MATTEI, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said as France held the presidency of the G20 States, it considered education a fundamental right that ensured poverty alleviation and economic development. It was necessary to redouble efforts to adopt education and training to meet employment needs. France was one of the leading donors in education development assistance. Ensuring equal access to education was a major challenge. Young girls were deprived all too often of full education, while a majority of girls did not have access to secondary education. Due to the many challenges in ensuring access to education, France was helping developing countries to achieve education for all. Improving the quality of education, expanding access to vocational education and training, and increasing the enrolment of girls in school were important priorities. Securing financing for education could not be stressed enough. The financing needs remained tremendous, estimated at $ 6 billion, and thus meeting educational goals required mobilizing sources of funding outside the public sector. France expressed a wish that the international community moved together to assure education for all.
SANG-KI PARK, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the current review of education commitments and achievements was timely. Education was a fundamental human right and everyone was entitled to it. Furthermore, there was a close link between educational attainment, the achievement of other Millennium Development Goals, and the promotion of human rights. Efforts of the international community had reaped benefits and significant progress had been made in reducing the gender gap and increasing enrolment rates, despite uneven results across regions and countries. There was much room for improvement in the quality of education. The Republic of Korea was once one of the poorest countries but it had achieved significant economic and social development; investment in human development through education played a key role in this process. A well trained workforce became a driving force for economic development and prosperity. Governments could play a key role by promoting development within a national development strategy to promote sustainable and equitable development and promoting gender equality in education. The Republic of Korea remained committed to increase its official development aid budget to around three billion dollars and, in addition to multilateral assistance, it had cooperated with international organizations to promote sustainable development through capacity building in developing countries and to enhance employable skills. Further efforts were needed, in particular a greater investment in education to achieve development, effectiveness, and capacity building, training teachers, building schools and reducing the costs of education, particularly in those regions with the greatest need.
LAIFA EL ABIDA, Minister in Charge of School Education in Morocco, said that when education succeeded in equipping citizens with values, knowledge and schools, it had an immediate impact on standards of living, family health and the autonomy of women, and environmental protection. Developing countries had not achieved the Millennium Development Goals despite significant efforts, given the scarcity of resources, weak institutional capacity, and recent increases in fuel and food prices. Morocco had implemented a comprehensive reform to its education system, based on a national charter and consensus. Salary expenditure had increased by 150 per cent, between 2008 and 2011; furthermore other initiatives had been implemented, creating new projects, targeting socio-economic challenges and enabling equal opportunities; including the provision of text books and supplies to schools in rural areas; and conditional cash transfers for disadvantages communities, thus increasing a significant increase in enrollment rates from 84.6 per cent in 2000 to 97.5 percent in 2010, for children aged six to eleven, and increased boy and girls parity. Following the adoption of a new Constitution on 1 July 2011, further decentralization, commitments to democracy and human development, and increased powers of local authorities were achieved.
ROBERTO FLORES BERMUDEZ, Permanent Representative of Honduras to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said in the case of Honduras, the President had focused on accelerating social and economic development. Education was one of the priorities of such development. The experience of improving education had been enriched by a number of programmes. Important progress had been made towards international and national targets. The coverage of education in the first two cycles of education, the primary and secondary levels, had risen to 90 per cent. These were the results of concerted efforts. The Government had an open dialogue with all stakeholders, including the teaching corps, in developing laws and regulations. International organizations and Members States were responsible for consistency in international cooperation. Countries committed to their youth could generate and implement public policies for improving education. The international dialogue in Honduras placed education as a priority in the holistic vision of the country. Because of its political will and efforts made, Honduras hoped to continue to enjoy the support of international donors and the international community.
MARIA NAZARETH FARANI AZVEDO, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the decision to highlight the internally agreed goals in education as the priority theme for the 2011 Economic and Social Council substantive session was particularly auspicious. No other tool could play a more decisive role in poverty eradication and social inclusion. Without access to quality and universal education it would not be possible to realize the goal of sustainable development. Brazil believed that it was necessary to adopt a systemic approach to education that encompassed all policy aspects. Similarly, basic and university education and continuous learning had to be fostered as much as illiteracy had to be fought. Brazil’s education policy integrated a comprehensive social development agenda. Financing played a central role in educational policy. Brazil’s goal was to qualitatively and quantitatively expand public investment in education. Social inclusion through superior education in Brazil was also a goal. For over a decade, Brazil had been making significant progress in the area of education. Educational services, the level of schooling and quality of education had improved simultaneously. Brazil believed it was moving in the right direction, although there was still much to do. Investments in education were investments in the future.
KRISTINN F. ARNASON, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that education was a fundamental human right and it held the key for future generations. There were many challenges to ensuring education for all around the world, amidst challenges such as the global financial crises, armed conflicts, and the effects of climate change. Girls were particularly vulnerable in this regard, especially those in conflict areas or rural areas in developing countries; and although the enrollment of girls and women in schools and educational programmes had steadily increased, significant gaps remained. Fortunately, educational opportunities had improved, generally speaking, in the last decades. Iceland’s Development Cooperation strategy identified education as a key priority sector; sought to increase opportunities for women in developing countries through adult literacy training; and emphasized the building of schools to provide a proper learning environment and the retention of girls. Literacy was crucial for empowering women, improving health and increasing women’s participation in society and decision-making. The international community must seek innovative ways to ensure that all children receive education, including school feeding and nutrition programmes. Finally, education was fundamental in the quest for gender equality and, moreover, gender equality and the empowerment of women were prerequisites for sustainable development, peace and security.
LUVUYO NDIMENI, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of UN Women were indicators that the achievement of these goals was indeed possible. These goals were interlinked and mutually reinforcing and should be pursued through a holistic approach. Without education the integration of societies to national and international policies was unrealistic, for example, in the context of achievements in the combat of malnutrition, education had played a significant role. Although education played an important factor in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, many challenges remained, among them, constrained household incomes, quality of teaching and learning and poor infrastructures. Increased expenditure on education and additional resources were necessary; and the economic and the financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to shifting governments’ service delivery. Public-private partnerships were also critical. Provisions must be made so that children had access to education in the context of free or affordable transport, cash and food transfers, which had proven to be an effective way to keep children at school. International partnerships remained key in achieving the millennium goals and concerted efforts were needed to bridge the gaps between political intentions and actions, and the fulfillment of previous commitments.
HAMZA OMAR HASSAN AHMED, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Sudan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the repercussions of the international crisis and the sharp increase in the cost of basic goods had an impact on development, as did climate change. These had a serious effect on developing countries in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including the goal for education. Financial resources were an obstacle to providing education for all in developing countries. There was a lack of equity in world trade, world famine and disease, which were challenges for the international community and were prevalently relevant for Africa. Less than five years remained to meet the Millennium Development Goals. It was clear that in order to reach these goals, it was necessary to face up to some challenges. The economy was slowing and the impacts of climate change were worsening. These had impacts on the provision of education. Poverty had the most significant impact on school attendance. Sudan had prioritized education in pursuing development, including primary education, schooling for girls and vocational and higher education. The number of students had risen from four million in 2004 to six million in 2009. Member States needed to provide the necessary financial means and the necessary priority to education to meet these goals, particularly in Africa.
NANCY MADRIGAL, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the debates heard over the last few days had been interesting, including the national voluntary presentations. The Millennium Development Goals would not be met by 2015 because unfortunately the world was dominated by selfishness, injustice, hegemonic pretensions, waste and unbridled consumption by a minority. Millions of people suffered in misery. The efforts of the global south were hampered. An international order based on solidarity, social justice and respect for the rights of human beings needed to be established. Compliance with commitments for international development assistance should be a priority. Cuba had made significant steps toward development, despite the economic blockade of the United States. All Cubans enjoyed full access to education. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized Cuba as one of the top four countries in terms of educational achievements. Without international support, it would not be possible to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Cuba had made a modest contribution to educational objectives in developing countries.
SILVANO M. TOMASI, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the theme of this ministerial review was of urgent importance to the overall achievement of integral human development and the future of the human family. Education was a fundamental right of the human person and played an important role in promoting development and reducing inequality. The international community had made progress in increasing access to school, but given the current situation the goal of universal primary education by 2015 would not be achieved; similarly 28 million out-of-school children lived in environments affected by violence. The State had an essential responsibility to assure the provision of education, as well as parents, churches and local communities. For centuries religious groups had supported basic education and, in fact, were the first institutions to provide basic education to the poorest populations; there were currently some 200,000 Catholic primary and secondary schools with some 58 million students and 3.5 million teachers. The key role of education had become even more essential to enable peaceful coexistence and mutual appreciation among all sectors of society. The whole educational effort should be conceptualized within a spirit of justice and throughout practical measures that made education better suited to meet current challenges, and in which all elements of society should participate. Policy makers tended to see education as mainly key to economic survival, but the horizons needed widening. Finally, meeting the international goal of education was an ineludible requirement, partnerships with civil society and the private sectors could effectively contribute to this goal.
HILLEVI PERRAUDIN, of the International Federation of University Women, said in a joint statement that a new agenda of investment in education, especially secondary education for girls, could be the catalyst for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable social and economic development. Poverty put girls at a distinct disadvantage in terms of education. In the poorest households, approximately twice as many girls of secondary school age were out of school compared to their wealthier peers. Evidence suggested that girls not in formal education had their first sexual experience and first child earlier and were more likely to be poor and forced into early marriage, or coerced into sex; and too many adolescent girls would not complete secondary education. Comprehensive Sexuality Education, involving human rights, HIV prevention, gender equality, sexuality and active citizenship was a crucial part of formal and informal education. The international community should provide development assistance and the necessary resources to ensure that girls could enjoy access to secondary education and comprehensive sexuality education.
CYRIL RITCHIE, of Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations, said that civil society had an essential role in education, which had been confirmed by forums on the issue and by representatives of non-governmental organizations. The urgent demand of civil society was that Governments fully implemented the commitments made in agreeing to the Millennium Development Goals. The primary responsibility rested with governments, from whom civil society expected revitalized political determination and enlightened budgetary decisions. The Millennium Development Goals were intimately tied up with international goals to secure women’s rights. Civil society would not relent in advancing the cause of educating girls because educated girls were the bedrock of prosperous and stable societies.
DANILO PARMEGIANI, of Legion of Good Will, said Legion of Good Will had secured positive results by helping to eradicate poverty through education. When they were encouraged and motivated, the communities assisted responded with very significant changes. The Legion of Good Will used its own methodology to address the needs of formal schools. By providing this support, the results of individual and collective transformation were increased. Optimizing resources and providing multi-stakeholder partnerships, the Legion of Good Will had been able to promote a platform of actions that guaranteed the complete development of students.
SIMIN FAHANDEJSADI, of Baha’i International Community, said that despite progress made in increasing enrolment rates and committing more resources to education, it had been difficult to achieve a cultural shift towards the recognition of the need to prioritize education for girls and women. systematic approach to changing behavior and institutional norms was needed and work to create lasting change for girls should also consider the roles and attitudes of men and boys. In thousands of neighbourhoods around the world, the experience of the Baha’i community had yielded concepts refining the quality of its educational processes. Education must address material, social, and spiritual dimensions of human development, and should provide the space to further develop technical, artistic, social, moral and spiritual capabilities. A process that built capacity at the grass roots created an environment for meaningful and sustained educational progress.
LILLI SCHIRCH, of World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts, called on governments and the international community to accept that non-formal education was an essential part of the educational process and to mainstream a comprehensive approach to education in national educational systems; to strengthen the partnerships between formal and non-formal education to meet all educational needs; to introduce measures to improve the visibility of non-formal education, recognizing skills and competences attained through it; to provide recognition to organizations and institutions delivering non-formal education; and to include non-governmental organizations delivering non-formal education in decision-making processes at national and international levels.
EYLAH KADJAR, of International Federation Terre des Hommes, said education was one of the pillars on which development could be built. Education helped children build the skills to make their way as adults and reduce poverty. Education was a human right and substantive progress had been made to achieving education for all. Yet, 67 million children were out of school. Terres des Hommes brought its contribution to the Millennium Development Goals by bringing education to children that did not have the possibility of enrolling in regular school, such as street children, children who worked as domestic servants and children with disabilities. Terres des Hommes was also keen to provide educational opportunities of relevance which had a concrete impact on children’s successful integration into their communities. An outstanding approach to education for marginalized groups and populations was the concept of “double knowledge” which provided both modern and traditional education in rural areas. This approach created continuity between generations. Terres des Hommes emphasized the need for an inclusive education system that reached out to the most marginalized among children.
DELOIS BLAKELY, of New Future Foundation, said it was important that young people on every part of the planet had the opportunity to receive their human right of education. Financial literacy programmes could teach young people, remotely, about economics. It was the firm belief of the New Future Foundation that over the long term educating youth would benefit the world economy. E-learning and technology teaching methods should not replace more basic learning techniques. The availability of personal technology and electricity in developing countries was limited which was why this hybrid or blended approach was limited and also why alleviating poverty was important in achieving educational goals.
MICAEL OLSON, of World Vision International, said that with less than four years left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for education more efforts were needed. Recent evidence showed that despite considerable investment in education no corresponding impact on quality had been achieved and children in low-income countries performed only at the third percentile of a high-income country distribution. World Vision was refocusing its education agenda to set reading targets for programme impact areas and to partner with other non-governmental organizations, the private sector and Governments to complement efforts, build capacities and secure local educational resources by engaging parents and communities themselves; these creative alliances would be necessary to close the quality gap and to assist the large numbers of children lacking functional levels of reading, basic mathematics and essential skills.
SINA STIFFLER, of Soroptimist International, stressed the importance of bottom-top approaches and the benefits of working with local groups; and indicated that a positive impact could be achieved by consistently working with them. Proper sanitation facilities were a decisive factor for girls to be allowed to attend school. Soroptimist International recommended working to ensure quality of education should match the preoccupation with access; addressing the gender gap and preventing the risk of violence in school environments; ensuring that girls were not at risk of violence, assault or abuse on their way to and from school; and finally, employing a human rights based approach to education was necessary.
ELLEN WALKER, of European Disability Forum, said that persons with disabilities needed to be considered in examining achievements in education. Currently, persons with disabilities were excluded from all levels of education. Global data on persons with disabilities and education was lacking and this was unfortunately in itself a sign of discrimination. However, there was a consensus that children with disabilities were vastly overrepresented among children not attending school. Opportunities were lacking later in life for people without education. Children with intellectual disabilities and hard-of-hearing students needed special accommodation that should be provided by States.
MARIA D'ONOFRIO, of Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrice (IIMA), welcomed the decision to dedicate the High-Level Segment of the Economic and Social Council to education. Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrize Salesiane di Don Bosco considered that education in the broadest and truest sense included every contribution to a human being’s development. Many new educational challenges were due to the increased vulnerability of children. Education should go beyond mere structures and supplies. Teaching staff needed to address the specific problems of children and thus those of society in general. Istituto Internazionale Maria Ausiliatrize Salesiane di Don Bosco recommended that States devoted particular attention to teaching staff.
PIERRE DIZERENS, of Convention of Independent Financial Advisors, said there was a realization that the private sector was key to the eradication of poverty and that education was a necessary for social progress. Sustainable economic development in emerging and developing economies could not rely solely on the public sector. To broaden its role in high-quality education, the Convention of Independent Financial Advisors had partnered with UNITAR to jointly develop Internet based distance learning tools to teach financial sector officials through quality training for skills on governance, ethics and moralizing of financial markets.
OLIVER RIZZI CARLSON, of United Network of Young Peacebuilders, said that the burden of providing education should not be borne exclusively by governments. The education provided should be one that empowered and should at its core enable children to deal with adversity in non-violent ways. Peace education empowered children and teachers to transform challenging contexts and to create effective learning environments despite the lack of resources.
DAVID TUNDO, of Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, said the Centre appreciated the opportunity to address Israel’s systematic violation of the right to primary education in the occupied Palestinian territory. As a result of Israel’s belligerent occupation, Palestinian children were denied any meaningful education. Public schools of all grades had been extensively damaged during Israel’s military operations. The Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip was indiscriminate, unjustified under security grounds and clearly amounted to collective punishment of the civilian population. Israel’s actions with regard to the right to education were inconsistent with its binding obligations under international law. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights asked that the international community take all appropriate measures to end Israel’s repeated violations of international law, which inhibited basic human rights, including education, and the development goals in the Palestinian territory.
BARNETT KOVEN, of World Information Transfer, said that every child’s education began long before an individual entered school. Emphasis needed to be on helping the parent develop key behaviours in their offspring that would enable a child to adjust and adapt in a fast changing world. The fundamental concept of parenting healthy kids was maintaining the relationship between feelings and actions. The accepted stages and characteristics of development provided a framework for parenting strategies. Health had several meanings, referring to the mental and physical health of the child as well as the health of our planet.
RITA JAKOB, of Foundation for Subjective Experience and Research, said that primary education needed to be developed within a holistic approach since many factors outside of school affected the likelihood of children’s enrollment. For example, children and youngsters, at the age of 6 to 14, should not be left alone for long after school; similarly, dialogue, exchanges and information for a better comprehension of the other was extremely important, not only in fragile States; if such tools were missing, there was no basis for democracy and the implementation of human rights.
CATRINA WILLIAMS, of International Forum for Child Welfare, said that although children had benefited from the protection derived from a common language under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and existing multilateral reporting frameworks examining States, nonetheless, the number of migrant or refugee children was increasing rapidly with globalization and significant increases in in-country migration. They were often vulnerable and marginalized, and suffered from separation from their parents, emotional trauma, acute poverty and vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation.
GAETANO CAVALIERI, of World Jewelry Confederation, said the World Jewelry Confederation had strengthened its activities in support of the Millennium Development Goals with a focus on priority actions for implementing international goals and commitments with regards to high-level, quality education. Thanks to its network of national associations and commercial membership, the World Jewelry Confederation was a key player in promoting sustainable economic and social development in the 40 countries where it was active. The World Jewelry Confederation had created the United Nations International Training Centre for Corporate Opportunities in May 2011. The Centre aimed at stimulating business around the world to embrace corporate social responsibility and adopt the principles of the UN Global Compact to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals.
For use of the information media; not an official record