"Educating Children is a Development Imperative," says UNESCO Director-General
On 16 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, gave a keynote address at the High-Level Meeting on “Solutions to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals for Children”, held at the United Nations in New York in the presence of Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden.
The meeting, organized by the Permanent Missions of Italy and Sweden to the UN, World Childhood Foundation USA in collaboration with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and its Partners, and The St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, brought together global leaders to discuss the unprecedented opportunity that new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework provides to focus on the world’s most vulnerable children.
Among the participants there were representatives of governments, United Nations agencies, including Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, artist Maestro Andrea Bocelli, Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, and UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker and the SDG Advocates of the UN Secretary-General, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, as well as representatives from civil society and private sector leaders, including Kees Kruythoff of Unilever and Paul Sistare of Atlantica Hotels International. Robyn Curnow, CNN Anchor/Correspondent, moderated the event.
“The new UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, launched last week, shows that 263 million children are out of school today […] Children in conflict zones account for a third of these, and attacks against schools are increasing,” said the Director-General underscoring that girls are most excluded with 32 million girls out of primary school.
“This situation throws a shadow over entire societies, and weakens efforts to achieve any of the Sustainable Development Goals,” declared the Director-General. “Educating these children is a human rights issue. It is a development multiplier. It is a development imperative.”
“The new development agenda reminds us that the explicit targets for children are global and apply to Sweden as well as to Nepal, Kenya, Peru, and everywhere so that no child will be left behind. A sense of urgency and a collective knowledge are what we need today,” said Olof Skoog, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN.
“The ambitious nature of the sustainable development goals pushes us to forge partnerships in mobilizing governments, private sector and civil society to work for the successful implementation,” said Sebastiano Cardi, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN.
“Poorest children, predominantly girls, are those that are left farthest behind. Safe transitioning to adolescent is good not only for the girls but benefit the whole society economically and socially. UNESCO has been a major partner for opening opportunities to girls and boys in the adolescent years through education and last year we have launched a crucial partnership with the Organization and UNWOMEN to this effect,” said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
“Children are not only our future, they are very much our present, and we can act now – it is not only beneficial for future generations, it is an imperative today,” stated the Director-General.
On the same day, the Director-General attended an event organized by the World Childhood Foundation USA with Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, during which UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker, was awarded the Childhood Thank You Award in recognition of his decade long fight for children’s rights by advocating for ending of recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by promoting rehabilitation of child victims of conflicts and gang violence in Africa, Mexico and the United States, and to acknowledge his commitment to children globally as the UNESCO Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation and a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate for the United Nations Secretary General.
The Award was presented to Forest Whitaker by Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden.
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