After more than a year of fighting for a stand-alone goal on education in the post-2015 agenda, EI reached an important milestone in New York last week as the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals met for its final session.
The so-called Open Working Group (OWG) was tasked with proposing a set of global development goals that would help the world tackle the most urgent social, environmental, and economic challenges. After 18 months of negotiations, the OWG agreed on 17 sustainable development goals, including goals on quality education, gender equality, and ‘full and productive employment and decent work for all’.
From the very beginning of the process, EI has proposed a stand-alone goal on quality education for all and called for a specific commitment to qualified teachers. Over the past year, EI and its affiliates have contributed actively to the process and engaged in direct advocacy efforts to ensure that these priorities would be reflected in the OWG’s final proposal.
Recognition for education
EI welcomes the stand-alone goal on “inclusive and equitable quality education for all” and, in particular, the accompanying target on completion of free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education. This is a clear signal that the world community recognises the importance of education and is willing to go beyond current commitments to primary education. The goal also includes specific targets on quality pre-primary as well as vocational and tertiary education, and on youth and adult literacy.
Particularly important for EI are also the targets on qualified teachers as well as gender-sensitive, safe and non-violent learning environments. These reflect a broader notion of quality education and are priorities of EI’s campaign, Unite for Quality Education, launched in October 2014.
Keep education on agenda
While there still is room for improvement in the OWG’s proposal, it reflects a number of EI’s priorities and represents a strong basis for strengthening the language as the process moves forward. Educators and education trade union leaders from all over the world have placed quality education high on the agenda. Now, the focus must be on keeping quality education on the agenda and further strengthening the commitments of member states to quality education for all.
The next step will be the UN General Assembly’s discussion on the OWG’s proposal, with the aim of adopting a new global development framework in September 2015.