Education for All leaders reinforce partnership at New York meeting
More powerful messages and reinforced cooperation within countries are keys to increasing political commitment to education, said chiefs and top representatives of the Education for All convening agencies at a meeting led by UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova at the United Nations on 5 November.
“The recent Millennium Summit created increased momentum for education. It highlighted the importance of equity, quality and the critical role of girls’ education,” said Irina Bokova. “Now is the time for concerted action to put education at the center of development.”
Participants from UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank discussed “entry points” for making education more prominent on political agendas, drawing particular attention to health, jobs, livelihoods and poverty eradication.
UNDP’s Administrator Helen Clark advised that advocacy should highlight the role of education in building stability in fragile countries through equipping young people with skills for work. UNFPA’s Executive Director Thoraya Obaid stressed the impact of education on young people’s health and well-being, especially that of adolescent girls.
Strengthening education systems and building institutional capacity in the long term are key measures of success, said participants. They emphasized the importance of working within established platforms, including the UN Development Assistance Frameworks and the new MDG Acceleration Framework currently being piloted in ten countries. The Director-General explained that the aim of UNESCO’s field network reform was to bring UNESCO closer to the needs of countries.
Participants identified opportunities for global advocacy, including the Economic and Social Council’s Annual Ministerial Review Meeting (ECOSOC), the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, and Rio +20. They also insisted on working with the G20 to ensure that education and skills feature more prominently on the agenda. Looking beyond the 2015 target date for achieving the goals, all stressed that quality issues, secondary and vocational education were leading concerns.
Welcoming the Director-General’s initiative, Heads of agencies agreed on the importance of meeting regularly and plan to gather next on the sidelines of ECOSOC 2011.