Over the course of the next few days, UN Member States will be meeting in New York for the next intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. They will be discussing global indicators for each of the sustainable development goals and accompanying targets, with some countries providing examples of how they will approach implementing new development priorities at the national level. Member States will also discuss ways of coordinating with the Finance for Development process for the sustainable development goals that has been taking place since October 2014, and is building up to the Addis Ababa conference in July.
Timed with these week’s negotiations, the Global Education First Initiative has launched a new video, using the findings from the GMR’s Sustainable Development Begins with Education booklet released last September. The video highlights the precise ways education can help achieve key goals in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda: from gender equality and healthy families to sustainable consumption and peaceful societies.
The many pathways that education contributes to a more sustainable future may seem obvious to some, but must be conveyed to those for whom it is not. For, while many governments have increased their commitment to and support for education since 2000, its emphasis among donors and in many countries remains vulnerable to shifting conditions – financial and otherwise. We have seen this in the form of declining international aid for education since 2010, for instance.
Over the next few days, as member states discuss linking the shape of education goals to the process of finding resources for them, the case for investing in quality basic education for all is strong. Sustainable development for low and middle income countries is only truly possible through comprehensive cross-sector efforts that begin with education.
But the funding challenge is considerable. Our recent paper showed that there is an annual finance gap of US$22 billion for achieving universal pre-primary, primary and lower-secondary education by the new development deadline of 2030. It is looking worryingly likely that we may end up with an ambitious set of targets in education with a lack of funding to achieve them: a pitfall we should be able to avoid falling into this time around.
Before this happens, we must hope that education’s unique power to act as a catalyst for wider development goals is realized at the same time as is the importance of avoiding an impending finance gap for the sector. We can change history if we work together and commit to do so.