Helen Clark speaks of education’s ‘intrinsic and enabling value’

The third GEM Report Advisory Board meeting took place last week. The GEM Report was honoured to welcome Helen Clark as new Chair of the Advisory Board. Former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ms Clark was Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme from 2009 to 2017. She brings her excellent knowledge of international development challenges and actors to the team and will help guide the GEM Report’s work to advocate for education’s central role in the sustainable development agenda.

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Ms Clark spoke of her reasoning in choosing to take up the position as Chair of the GEM Report’s Advisory Board. “Education is a key Sustainable Development Goal because it’s so important in its own right but also because, if we achieve the education targets, it will enable progress across a whole lot of the other goals as well. So it is important both for its intrinsic and its enabling value and so has to be regarded as extremely significant for the 2030 agenda.”

Ms Clark chaired a discussion amongst Board members about the content and outreach plans for the 2019 GEM Report on migration, displacement and education due out on November 20th this year. “The report on migration comes at a very important time as the Global Compact is being negotiated and also as we have very high levels historically of displaced people and migrants.  The Report is addressing very real issues, while people are looking for policy solutions. I hope that it will resonate widely.”

‘2019 could be the year for education’ some other members of the Advisory Board said as they took the floor. For many years now, stagnating numbers of children and youth out of school have made hopes for achieving the ambitious targets in the SDG 4 education goal seem unattainable.  “For education, money is essential because you can’t get quality education without putting the investment into the wide range of things: the training of teachers, the curriculum, the materials, the technology, the transport access for children,” said Ms Clark of the main opportunities for real change in education. “But also for the SDGs a commitment to quality is vital too. Because we’ve seen a lot of children in the MDG period appear in front of a teacher for the first time in their lives but not able to learn a lot because the quality just wasn’t there. So if this can be the decade of access and quality, I’ll be very happy.”

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