In its efforts to drum up support for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Quality Education, UNESCO co-organised a high level meeting with UNICEF in New York on 19 July.
The high level meeting was hosted by the governments of Morocco, Norway and the Republic of Korea, and attended by representatives of UN member states and other key education stakeholders. The meeting discussed strategies for addressing the needs of the most marginalised populations and how to ensure inclusion, equity and gender equality through education.
In her opening remarks, the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, drew attention to new figures on the number of out-of-school children and youth, standing at 263 million worldwide, and the huge education financing gap of $39 billion USD annually. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, who delivered the key note address, reminded UN member states that the main responsibility for financing education rests with national governments. She urged donors to support developing countries, pledging her government’s commitment to continue to support education and civil society around the world. She recognized the critical role of teachers, stating: “It’s important to listen to teachers who know children’s conditions best”.
Mr OH Joon, President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) briefed the meeting about the ongoing High Level Political Forum and pledged his support for education.
ILO Director General, Guy Ryder, spoke about the need to address child labour and ensure skills for young people. He also drew the meeting’s attention to the last report of the Joint ILO/UNESCO Committee of Experts on the Application of the Recommendations concerning Teaching Personnel (CEART) which showed the declining status of the teaching profession.
Intervening from the floor, EI Senior Coordinator, Dennis Sinyolo, urged governments to invest in teachers – their training, recruitment, professional development, salaries and conditions of service. He urged governments to engage in genuine and meaningful dialogue with teachers and their organisations. He also drew the UN member states’ attention to the plight of refugee and migrant children and failure by many governments of transit and destination countries to meet their educational needs.
Other speakers at the breakfast event included the Bolivian Minister of Education, the Permanent Representative of Tanzania to the UN, the Chief Executive Officer of GPE and representatives of UNICEF and UIS.