Qian Tang, PhD, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO and Dr. Nicholas Alipui, Director and Senior Advisor on the Post-2015 development agenda, UNICEF.
Today, UNESCO and UNICEF will convene a high-level discussion on the post-2015 education agenda. This event, hosted by the European Commission, will kick-off the Global Partnership for Education’s Second Replenishment Pledging Conference in Brussels and aims at rallying the international community behind the Muscat Agreement, which puts forward an aspirational goal for education post-2015 and a set of clear targets that will drive measurable improvements in equity, quality and learning.
But what does this new commitment mean? Since the launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, what have we learned?
We know that in order to have a holistic and transformational education agenda, we must place the learner at the center of this process. We also know that in order to reach every last child, young person and adult, we must focus on the most marginalized and hardest-to-reach. And we know that we must move beyond just access to address issues of quality, to ensure that once in school, our children are learning.
These issues must be clear on our agenda if the proposed education goal and targets are to gain approval at the World Education Forum in 2015 and be adopted as an integral part of the global development agenda at the UN Summit in New York City in September 2015.
Children are the foundation for the future we want. To create this future, as Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta said, “The children of today and future generations must survive, thrive and have the opportunity to reach their full potential — free from fear and want — through expanded opportunities for all.”
“Education is a right that transforms lives when it is accessible to all, relevant and underpinned by core shared values,” says Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General. “Learning begins at birth and continues throughout life. This is why the new education agenda must ensure that flexible learning opportunities are provided for all children, youth and adults through different pathways so that no matter what the circumstances, everyone acquires strong foundations and the chance to continue learning and always gain the new skills they need to better their lives and adapt to rapid change.”
There is no shortcut to education, and the future education agenda must be comprehensive, to ensure that no-one is left behind.
Taking education forward
Adopted by education leaders and key education stakeholders in May 2014, the Muscat Agreement represents a new global consensus on the future of education, and should be the basis for further negotiations.
The Muscat Agreement includes all elements necessary to address the challenges of getting all children in school and learning as well as providing education and training opportunities for youth and adults throughout life. The agreement reflects the consensus that the education agenda should take a lifelong learning approach and must focus on equity, quality and learning. It covers early childhood care and education; basic education; adult and youth literacy, skills for work and life; and skills, values and attitudes for peace, global citizenship and sustainable development.
The agreement recognizes that professionally trained, qualified and well-supported teachers are required for achieving these targets. Of course, progress won’t be possible without a strong target on education financing, echoed by the call of the GPE Replenishment Conference for additional financing for education. This is critical, as no ambitious agenda can be implemented without adequate resources.
We believe that the Global Partnership for Education will play an important role in financing the post-2015 education agenda. Its growing emphasis on catalyzing funding for education in fragile states will be particularly valuable for delivering an agenda resolutely focused on overcoming inequities in education.