Afghanistan contributes to setting Global Education Agenda Post-2015 at the Asia Pacific Regional Education Conference, Bangkok.
Bangkok 8th August, 2014. Nearly 20 education ministers and their representatives from 37 countries in the Asia-Pacific region endorsed the Draft Asia-Pacific Statement on Education (APREC) Beyond 2015 at the Asia-Pacific Regional Education Conference hosted by UNESCO in Bangkok, Thailand.
H.E Farooq Wardak, Minister of Education, Afghanistan underscored progress made towards Education for All (EFA) goals and highlighted a strengthened Afghan education system serving an estimated 11.5 million children and youth, including 42% females. However, the minister called for further investment in education and recognized “the need for ongoing support from international organisations, NGOs and the private sector to expand access, reduce drop outs, improve quality and match the content of our education to the requirements of the job market and the human capital our nation's needs.” In particular he called for “ways to address the challenges in the most remote districts that lack female secondary schools and face a severe shortage of female teachers.”
The Draft Asia-Pacific Statement on Education Beyond 2015 represents one of the main regional inputs going into the World Education Forum next year, which will in turn inform the UN Summit in September 2015, where the final international development agenda for the next 15 years will be declared.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General of Education Qian Tang emphasized “The global education agenda is meant to drive development globally and nationally, and to inspire action in areas which are considered key for education. Therefore, it is crucial that all countries participate in the process of the development of this global agenda in order to ensure that it contributes to the realization of their own vision and ambitions for education.” He added crucially, that “Member states are in the driver’s seat for the development of the post-2015 education agenda.”
Endorsing the agenda Minister Wardak reiterated the need for a roadmap beyond 2015 to meet the needs of the Education Sector including the need for: sustained global financial commitment, especially for countries that are behind in their EFA goals, to create regional support and monitoring mechanisms to bring together countries National Taskforces, to facilitate experience-sharing and to forge further regional cooperation to enable all countries to achieve their EFA goals. Minister Wardak also highlighted the need for countries to be held accountable for allocating a sufficient portion of the national budget to education.
The Bangkok Statement outlines six Regional Priority Action Areas for Asia Pacific:
1. Lifelong learning for all: Equitable and inclusive access to quality learning for people of all ages and at all levels of learning, from early childhood care and education to tertiary education in formal and non-formal settings. A goal of 12 years of free and compulsory education for all by 2030 is strongly recommended.
2. Equity and equality: A commitment to addressing all forms of marginalization as well as disparities and inequalities, including gender inequality, in access to education.
3. Skills and competencies for life and work: Education should provide youth and adults with the skills they need to pursue decent work and other opportunities amid challenging times brought on by socioeconomic and demographic transformations. There should also be an emphasis on learning methods that encourage young people to be creative, innovative and to think critically.
4. Quality and teachers: Efforts must be made at all levels and in all educational settings to ensure that all learners are taught by professionally-trained, motivated and well-supported teachers. A key element in this regard is recognizing the importance and proven success of mother-tongue based multilingual education.
5. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for education: ICTs must be fully utilized to achieve the post-2015 education agenda to improve access to education, particularly in remote areas, as well as to support teaching and learning and strengthen education management.
6. Governance and financing: A commitment to establishing legal and policy frameworks that promote accountability and transparency in education and actively involve all stakeholders. Public investment in education should reach the internationally recognized benchmarks of 6% of GDP or 20% of total public expenditure devoted to education. Resources should be distributed equitably across education sub-sectors and geographic locations, with specific attention paid to marginalized groups.
The Bangkok Statement concluded by requesting that UNESCO, along with UNICEF and with the support of other international partners, continue to spearhead the development of the global education agenda going into the United Nations Summit in September 2015 and beyond.
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