29.01.2015 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Sharm El Sheikh Statement: Setting the scene for education post-2015

Building effective channels for regional cooperation, advancing quality education and lifelong learning, and advocating for education provision in countries affected by conflict and those hosting refugees to be accepted as a global responsibility, are among the main highlights of the Sharm El Sheikh Statement that Arab ministers of education adopted today, concluding the Arab Regional Conference for Education post-2015.

After three days of lively debates, ministers, officials, and representatives from international and regional organizations, NGOs and education experts from the Arab region agreed on significant recommendations on the education Agenda for post-2015, and committed themselves to a new regional approach manifested in the Statement:

“Recognizing the challenges our region encounters […] we will strive to ensure the integration of education priorities within the broader development frameworks of our countries, and national development agendas, as well as sustaining political support at its highest levels and enhancing social mobilization given its paramount importance”.

Throughout this major conference, education leaders in the Arab region, with the assistance of UNESCO and other EFA partners, managed to address main educational challenges common to their countries, pledging to take tangible steps towards enhancing regional partnership, establishing new mechanisms to finance education through exploring public and private partnerships, and prioritizing equity and access to education for marginalized populations, particularly girls, through inclusive national and regional strategies.

Speaking during this event, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Dr. Qian Tang, stressed the need for urgent and inclusive educational responses, as the Arab region faces a surge in numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons due to instability, drastically undermining the right to education. Dr. Tang called upon education ministers in the Arab countries to “join efforts in order to advocate for education needs of children and youth in conflict zones, and advance them in national agendas”, considering this as a crucial first step, that will eventually help the Arab countries gather international support for this cause, particularly through its integration in the discussions of the post 2015 Agenda that will take place during the World Education Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea, next May.

The Director of UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States, Dr. Hamed Al-Hammami, stated that “Education is key to achieve sustainable peace and development in the Arab countries”. “As much as education can play a role in building up tolerant and peaceful societies, lack of education for youth and high dropout rates due to conflict jeopardize the future of a whole generation, and are a major threat to stability”, added Dr. Al-Hammami.

While the Statement highlighted the central importance of equity and quality in education, a special attention was accorded to education in times of conflict. Arab ministers “call upon UNESCO, in collaboration with the EFA co-convening agencies and other partners, to continue leading the coordination of the development of the post-2015 education agenda and the corresponding Framework for Action”. Arab leaders also recommended that “UNESCO continue to provide technical support for the implementation, monitoring and enhancing accountability of the future post-2015 education agenda […] and working to mobilize the adequate financial resources to support educational systems afflicted by crises and conflicts in the region and advocating to support education for all”.

To read the full draft of the Sharm El-Sheikh Statement please click here

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