As Education 2030 –the new international education policy—takes root, countries will begin the difficult task of reviewing their education policies and systems in order to improve education and learning for all at every level. This blog explains the role that UNESCO will play, as the lead agency for Education, in helping achieve the vision of the new agenda.
Education 2030 as encapsulated by Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SD) sets a fresh and more ambitious universal education agenda. The new agenda continues and builds on the EFA movement, taking account of lessons learned. One key change from the EFA movement to the post-2015 agenda is that there will be a single renewed education goal embedded in the overall development framework. The agenda also goes beyond ‘business as usual’, with an even stronger focus on inclusion and equity and on education quality, learning and skills. Another new feature is that it is universal and is owned by the entire world, developed and developing countries alike.
The United Nations has a special collective responsibility to coordinate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at global level under the close supervision and guidance of its Member States. Accordingly, UNESCO, along with other agencies, and together with GPE and OECD, are expected to individually and collectively support countries in implementing Education 2030.
Leading and Coordinating
UNESCO will continue its mandated role to lead and co-ordinate Education 2030. To ensure strong global coordination as written into the Incheon Declaration, UNESCO, in consultation with Member States, the WEF 2015 co-convenors and other partners, will develop an appropriate global coordination mechanism in order to join up efforts to reach the new agenda that will work within the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development architecture.Cooperation between the UN and multilateral agencies, regional and intergovernmental organizations, and regional and sub-regional communities, will help to tackle common challenges in a coherent way. Inclusive and efficient coordination will focus on such aspects as data collection and monitoring, including peer reviews among the countries; mutual learning and exchange of good practices; policy-making; dialogue and partnerships with all relevant partners through formal meetings and high-level events; regional communication strategies; advocacy and resource mobilization; capacity building and implementation of joint projects.
At the same time, the heart of the Education 2030 agenda lies at the national level. Therefore governments have the primary responsibility to deliver on the right to education and a central role as custodians of efficient, equitable and effective management and financing of public education. They will need sustained political leadership in education, which guides the process of contextualising and implementing the Education 2030 goals and targets, based on national experiences and priorities, and ensuring a transparent and inclusive process with other key partners.
Measuring and Monitoring Progress, especially for the disadvantaged
Alongside its coordinating role, UNESCO will also assist with strengthening its measuring and monitoring successes, keeping a focus on ensuring the vulnerable are not left behind in progress towards the vision of Education 2030.
Multiple partners, in close cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), will provide direct and targeted support to their Member States to strengthen measurement and monitoring capacities, particularly in relation to tracking inclusion, equity, quality, and learning outcomes. UIS will facilitate learning and sharing of best practices with a view of strengthening country data systems, particularly for African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing states (SIDS) and middle income countries. The Education for All Global Monitoring Report, published by UNESCO, will be continued in the form of a Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) for monitoring and reporting on the SDG 4 and on education in the other SDGs.
Encouraging additional funding
Partnerships and improved coordination while extremely important, will not, alone, ensure realization of the new agenda, without increased finances. The full realization of Education 2030 agenda requires sustained, innovative and well-targeted financing, and efficient implementation arrangements, especially in those countries furthest from achieving quality education for all at all levels and in emergency situations. UNESCO is a part of key initiatives such as the Finance Commission established at the Oslo Summit, for which the Director General is one of the conveners. As such, we will be doing all we can to encourage additional funding to help reach Education 2030. Efforts to close the funding gap must start with domestic funding. At the same time, international public finance plays an important role in complementing the efforts of countries to mobilize public resources domestically.
National contexts are diverse, but the following international and regional benchmarks are crucial reference points: allocating at least 4% to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) to education; and/or allocating at least 15% to 20% of public expenditure to education. At the same time, international aid remains a crucial source of necessary education finance if the targets are to be met. The fulfilment of all commitments related to official development assistance (ODA) is critical.
To achieve the expanded ambition of Education 2030, it will be necessary to mobilise global and national efforts, inclusive partnerships and sufficient resources. Education 2030 also highlights that participation must begin with the involvement of families and communities and include civil society organizations, teachers and educators, and their organizations, the private sector, philanthropic organizations and foundations and youth, students, and their organizations. There is no doubt that realizing the potential of Education 2030 for historic progress in education will require bold, innovative and sustainable actions, and participation by all in order to ensure that education truly transforms lives in the world.
This blog is part of a series containing last minute reflections before a new education era begins.