14.05.2014

Muscat global meeting calls for a strong Education goal in the development agenda for post-2015

© I. Kassemi
International Conference in Oman to assess progress towards Education For All goals and identify new challenges (from right to left - Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, Dr Madiha bint Ahmed Al Shaibaniya, Minister of Education of the Sultanate of Oman, His Highness Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq Al Said, Representative of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman, Mr Matata Ponyo, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Global Meeting on Education for All pledged to galvanize international support for the overarching goal to “ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030,” in the final statement of the conference held in Muscat (Oman) from 12-14 May 2014.

Over 300 participants attended the meeting including the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 20 education ministers and vice-ministers, as well as representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academics, researchers and other stakeholders. They acknowledged that the “six goals listed in the Education for All (EFA) agenda and those related to education are far from being achieved by 2015.”

UNESCO Director-General urged the education community to speak with one voice to ensure that inclusive, lifelong quality education is included as a goal in the UN’s post-2015 development agenda. 

“Education is not a charity. It is a public good and a gamechanger that has an impact on all the development goals – environmental protection, gender equality, poverty alleviation and more. We need to craft a new vision of education for the 21st century,” said the Director-General. “A vision for quality lifelong education should be founded on equity and inclusion. A vision of education for global citizenship and sustainable development. This is a moment to craft a strong joint commitment – a Muscat Agreement -- for an ambitious future education agenda, which meets the needs and rights of every girl and boy, and fulfills the potential of youth.” 

© I. Kassemi
International Conference in Oman to assess progress towards Education For All goals and identify new challenges - His Highness Sayyid Asa'ad bin Tariq Al Said, Representative of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman (center) Mr Matata Ponyo, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (on the left) and Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General (on the right).

In their final statement, participants noted that "more than 57 million children and 69 million adolescents still do not have access to primary education… In 2011, an estimated two-thirds of the world’s 774 million illiterate adults are women. Gender equality is a source of “extreme concern”: “The number of countries achieved gender parity did not exceed 60 percent in primary education and 38 percent in secondary education." 

The participants stressed that "education is a fundamental human right" which must be at the top of the global development agenda, one based on fairness and inclusion, with a particular focus on gender equality. 

By calling for support to "ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030", participants pledged to use the Muscat statement as a reference for negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda to ensure it features a strong education component. 

The Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr Augustin Matata Ponyo, described education as “the foundation for the progress of nations and wealth,” and presented the measures his country has taken to make basic education free and compulsory, build 1,000 classrooms a year, support teachers and increase spending on education.

Oman’s Education Minister, Dr. Madiha bint Ahmed Al Shaibania, who chaired a ministerial session on the post-2015 education agenda with the Director-General, underscored the importance of reaching a common position that would be adopted at the World Education Forum in the Republic of Korea in 2015.

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