» A look back at highlights of a unique year in UNESCO’s Education Sector
19.12.2016 - Education Sector

A look back at highlights of a unique year in UNESCO’s Education Sector


A unique year is coming to a close for the UNESCO education sector. It is the first full year carried out in the context of the Global Education 2030 Agenda which informed the many different strands of our work from girls’ education to global citizenship

UNESCO is entrusted to lead the agenda which is captured in Sustainable Development Goal 4 and which can only be achieved by huge global participation at all levels.

Highlights of the Education Sector began in January with the launch of a new study, Every Child Should Have a Textbook by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report which proposed an economic model to reduce the cost and increase the availability of textbooks to students around the world.

Still in January UNESCO marked the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust with a round-table on the theme From Words to Genocide and an interview with Holocaust survivor Roman Kent.

International Mother Language Day was celebrated in February and March was a busy month with participants from all over the world gathering for Mobile Learning Week 2016 where they exchanged ideas about how mobile technology can foster innovation and ensure quality in the education sector.

Also in March, in the run-up to International Women’s Day, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics launched the gender eAtlas showing twice as many girls as boys will never start school.

There was good news in March with the awarding of the UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Distinguished Academic Performance which went to innovative teaching programmes in Malaysia and Cambodia.

Global Action Week offered a rich programme of events in April under the theme Fund the Future: Education Rights Now and in May an international Ministerial Meeting was held on the theme Education Responses to Violence based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression.

May also saw the first ever awards given out under the new UNESCO Prize for Girls’ and Women’s Education which went to projects in Indonesia and Zimbabwe.

In July new data released by UIS showed that 263 million children and youth were out of school from primary to upper secondary level and a meeting was held of the Partner Networks of the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development.

September was the Education Sector’s busiest month with the launch of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report: Education for people and planet: creating sustainable future for all.

This was followed closely also in September by the awarding of the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes which went to ground-breaking programmes in India, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Viet Nam.

September also saw the launch of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 3rd Global Report on Adult Learning and Education and the awarding of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development which went to projects in Cameroon, Japan and the United Kingdom. 

And finally in September the International conference on the Prevention of Violent Extremism through Education: taking action, co-organized by UNESCO and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development took place in New Delhi.

Following up on this theme, the Quebec-UNESCO conference Internet and the Radicalization of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living Together was held in October.

The future of skills for work and life was at the heart of the global UNESCO-Cedefop conference held in October.

Also in October UNESCO launched a new Strategy on Education for Health and Well-Being: Contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and we celebrated World Teachers’ Day.

This year’s climate change conference COP22 took place in November in Morocco with a whole day devoted to education.

UNESCO’s vital work in restoring education after emergencies was highlighted in November following the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.

In December the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030 held the 9th International Policy Dialogue Forum in Cambodia on the subject of motivating teachers. And following a series of Education 2030 Agenda regional meetings, the year culminated with a meeting of the Steering Committee who drew up a roadmap for coordination and implementation for 2017-2019.

In order to better communicate its wide range of education activities, the Sector’s achievements included the launch of a series of Real-Life stories and a podcast.

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