21.09.2017 - ODG

A Joint Call to Step Up Education Financing

On 20 September, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called for increased financing to reach the global goal of inclusive and equitable quality education in a series of events organized in the context of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Leading a panel on country-led reform during the high-level side event on “Financing the Future: Education 2030”, she stated that “ownership is at the heart of implementing the 2030 agenda.” 

The starting point is that “education is a right and the single most important factor in beating poverty.” But one in four countries are not meeting the call for governments to allocate at least 4 to 6 per cent of GDP and/or 15 to 20 per cent of public expenditure to education. 

“The call for external financing is just as crucial,” she said. “Now we must act through political will, sound policies and partnerships.”

During the panel, the Secretary-General of the Maghreb Economic Forum, Amel Karboul, stressed the need to transform education systems to deliver because putting more money into broken systems devalues education. 

The Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Michaëlle Jean emphasized the urgency of investment in qualitative improvements, in skills training and learning in mother tongue. 

The former Minister of Education of the Republic of Korea, Ju-ho Lee, recalled the impact of his country’s historic investment in education, while the Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund Theo Sowa stressed the role of civil society in holding governments to account, while also partnering with them to reach the most marginalized populations.

The event brought together the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, French President Emmanuel Macron, the President of Senegal Macky Sall and the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg. It was co-hosted by Norway, France, Malawi and Senegal, in partnership with the Education Commission, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education, the Malala Fund and the One Campaign. Emphasis was placed by all leaders on increased investment; conflict and crisis situations; girls and young women and lifelong learning to cope with rapid transformations. 

During the event, the Presidents of France and Senegal announced the co-hosting of the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Conference in Dakar on 8 February 2018, which will aim to mobilize USD 3.1 billion dollars for 2018-2020.

On the same day, the Director-General also took part in a side event on “Sustainably Financing Education”, hosted by the Global Campaign for Education. She asserted that “civil society is vital to continue pushing for education to be at the top of policy agendas and to hold governments to account.” 

She reiterated that effective mobilization of both domestic and external resources calls for innovative means and new financing sources. 

“But, first and foremost, we need substantial and consistent increase in domestic financing of education to meet the expanded scope and scale of the new education agenda.”  

At the event, Global Campaign President Camilla Crosso called for a strengthening of public education, while Education International President Susan Hopgood echoed this appeal, calling for a national and global approach to tax justice.

The same day, the Director-General joined the annual event organized by the Global Business Coalition for Education focusing on the private’s sector role in bridging the skills gap and preparing youth for a more collaborative economy. During the event, the Coalition’s Executive Chair, Sarah Brown, recognized the Director-General’s contribution to expanding educational opportunity for young people and children.  

Asked why she had made education a priority of her mandate, Ms Bokova asserted in that “in the past eight years, we have succeeded in creating a global movement to mobilize for education. This has happened through partnership,” she said. “This collective engagement is the only way to hold governments and all society to account – and make the future safer, more inclusive and prosperous for ultimate renewable resource – today’s children and youth."

The event saw the launch of the Youth Skills and Innovation Initiative launched to bring young people, business and government officials together to look for the most effective ways to improve youth and innovation skills, with special emphasis on marginalized populations. It will make recommendations on how to develop and scale training, content and technology for the jobs of tomorrow. The Director-General is a member of this Commission, co-led by the Coalition and Intel.

Emphasis was also placed on children and youth in crisis situations, with several donors, including the European Union and Denmark, announcing commitments to Education Cannot Wait, the fund established in 2016 to mobilize resources, advocate and bridge the humanitarian to development divide.

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