Education after 2015 debated at the UNESCO General Conference
The 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference was held from 25 October to 10 November to establish the Organization’s programme and budget for 2012-2013.
A number of education-related events took place in the framework of the General Conference, while the Education Commission (1-3 and 7 November) was convened to allow Member States “to anticipate and define the future of education, and to strengthen UNESCO’s role as a laboratory of ideas with a view to consolidating its role as a global intellectual leader in education” (Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education).
The Education for All 2015 targets were central to the discussions that took place at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, both as regards the run up to them and the future beyond them. Member States underlined the continued challenge of ensuring gender equality in and equitable access to education, not only in low income countries, but also in economically developed contexts were the marginalization of certain individuals and communities must still be overcome (for example, the case of persons with disabilities, or indigenous and migrant populations).
Member States also drew attention to the importance of education remaining at the heart of the international development agenda beyond 2015, and of consolidating the Organization’s position as the leading agency in the field. Equally, Member States highlighted the importance of improving the quality and relevance of education, and of adding qualitative measurements to the quantitative in measuring progress made in the field. Moreover, successes in broadening access to primary education have led to a growing demand for secondary education, which should be addressed now and in the future.
To reinforce the capacity of and inclusion in education systems, Member States called for improved teacher training; for greater recourse to information and communication technologies; for a greater focus on entrepreneurial and employment skills; and for continued attention to education for sustainable development (civic, social, political and environmental education).
The Education Commission also paid special attention to the recommendations of the UNESCO Youth Forum (17-20 October), half of which related to education. Member States welcomed the contribution of young people, stressing its importance in shaping education for the future, as well as the future of education. Many among them called for a wide dissemination of the Forum’s Final Report, as well as for the Education Sector to take careful note of it in its work over the coming years.