UNESCO puts spotlight on equity and teachers during Learning for All meetings in DC
On 18 April, the Director-General took part in a day of events aimed at galvanizing renewed action to improve education access and quality, and accelerate progress towards the 2015 goals, co-organized by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown.
In her remarks, the Director-General issued a strong call for more concerted action to reach marginalized groups, highlighting the need for special efforts to reinforce teacher training and professional development as the single most powerful force for driving improvements in equity, access and quality.
Ministers of Education and Finance from seven countries joined multilateral and bilateral development agencies to discuss the main obstacles to education progress and effective strategies to overcome them. A wide-range of issues were discussed, but several common themes emerged, with strong emphasis on the need for integrated approaches that address the overlapping causes of exclusion, and for bolder action to tackle barrier to learning, in particular the shortage of trained teachers.
In discussions with the Ministers of Finance and Education of Nigeria, where only 60% of educators working in primary schools are qualified to teach, Mrs Bokova put the spotlight on the importance of strengthening school leadership as a lever for improving teaching professionalism and reinforcing support to teachers in the classroom. She also urged the need to reinforce governance at national, state and local levels to ensure resources reach the most vulnerable populations. Support to strengthen system-wide capacity and develop robust, data-driven national education plans was also an important theme in meetings the Director-General attended with political leaders from Haiti and Yemen. During the exchange with Ministers of Finance and Education from Bangladesh, attention focused on effective measures to bring learning opportunities to underprivileged groups. Mrs Bokova highlighted the potential of community learning centres to expand access, foster intergenerational learning, and strengthen the link between education and the workplace.
Following the series of individual country meetings, participants came together in a high-level round table to share views on common bottlenecks to progress and identify priorities for action for governments and their development partners. “We must prove that we can pool our resources and muster our will in the sure knowledge that educating children now will pay dividends to whole societies for generations to come,” the Secretary-General affirmed in his remarks.
UNESCO’s Director-General highlighted the importance of strengthening national capacity to deliver good quality education and of sound data to inform smart policy making. She also underscored the role of non-formal delivery mechanisms in reaching marginalized groups, and called for greater attention to the needs of children in conflict situations.
“Addressing the global learning crisis is essential to ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity,” President Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank stated in his remarks at the event.
The day’s events closed with a strong call for collective action to promote girls’ education and end gender disparities at all levels. The UN Secretary-General highlighted UNESCO’s efforts to provide literacy to girls and women in Afghanistan as a strong example of what could be achieved through concerted international engagement.
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