UNESCO Director-General Launches EFA Global Monitoring Report with Call to Action on Youth Skills
The Director-General launched the 2012 edition of the EFA Global Monitoring Report with an appeal to fix the youth skills deficit through additional financing, more programmes to train young people who have missed out on an education and new partnerships between the public and private sector.
"The price societies pay for raising children without basic skills is unacceptably high. This violates individual dignity and human rights. It undermines growth and tills the soil of unrest," said Irina Bokova. "Education is the best investment in the societies we want, in the economies we need. The Report estimates that every $1 you spend on a child's education yields $10 to $15 in economic growth over that person's working life time," noting the urgent need to put education at the top of the political agenda, the goal of the UN Secretary-General's Education First Initiative.
Ringing the alarm on the stagnating progress towards reaching universal primary education, the United Nations' Special Envoy for Global Education Mr Gordon Brown, urged that every failing country should draw up an action plan to address obstacles to schooling, from child labour and early marriage to poor sanitation and lack of facilities in rural areas, which the international community should come into support. "We have made a promise, we have a responsibility to deliver."
Lubna Salek, a youth representative from Egypt, assertively appealed for the voices of youth to be heard: "We are asking governments to be more active, to involve youth and to reach the disadvantaged, to find a real solution to help youth access quality education."
Voices from the developed and developing world highlighted a range of policies for bridging the skills gap. Noting the paradox of high unemployment and skills shortages, South Africa's Minister for Higher Education and Training described initiatives to better align skills with needs, improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training and increase opportunities to do apprenticeships. Andreas Schleicher, OECD Deputy Director for Education, emphasized the impact of combining education with skills development. France's Delegate Minister for Educational Achievement, Ms George Pau-Langevin underlined her country's commitment to quality education for all, and in particular to fight against school failure, which hits children from disadvantaged backgrounds hardest, also noting support for UNESCO's efforts globally. Ms Irene Pritzker, president of the Innovation, Development Progress Foundation (IDP), called for stronger support for market-driven solutions in deprived and unreached areas where parents and communities are taking education into their own hands. The President of the Campaign for Female Education, Ann Lesley Cotton, shared knowledge drawn from 20 years of work in rural communities of Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular the focus on the social environment, community participation, and building a broader rural economy with the full participation of women.