GEFI Steering Committee agrees collective actions to catalyze education progress
On 18 April, the UN Secretary-General chaired the second meeting of the high-level steering committee of the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) to agree priorities for action over the next twelve months. UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, serves as Executive Secretary of the committee, which comprises representative of UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, as well as distinguished personalities committed to education. Two representatives of the Group of Champion Countries also attended the meeting to present the scope of their engagement in support of GEFI.
In his opening remarks, Ban Ki-moon congratulated UNESCO for its work to establish the GEFI Secretariat, recognizing the strong energy and momentum that has been built up behind the Initiative. The Director-General encouraged the Committee to concentrate on concrete actions to take GEFI forward, pointing to three priority areas for focus: spurring acceleration efforts to reach the 2015 goals; positioning education prominently in the post-2015 agenda; and advocating for increased resources for education, both domestic and external.
A strong consensus emerged during discussions on a set of high visibility, high impact advocacy opportunities over the coming months. The need to mobilize stronger G20 commitment to education; to focus top-level political attention on education during the UN General Assembly in September 2013; and to actively support replenishment efforts of the Global Partnership for Education, were identified as important areas for joint action. Steering Committee members also agreed on the need to work together to ensure that education figures centrally in the post-2015 framework both as a right in itself and an enabler of wider development progress. They emphasized the importance of building wider partnerships for education – engaging more with youth, with the private sector and with civil society groups. They also urged the need to build synergies with other movements for social change, in particular efforts to promote gender equality and end violence against women.
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