New York based Friends of Education discuss the upcoming Global Education Meeting

On September 14th, 2020, the United Nations-based Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning engaged in the preparation for the upcoming extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting (2020 GEM).
As the world experienced the unprecedented disruption of learning due to COVID-19 pandemic, the Group of Friends discussed steps necessary to mitigate this crisis at the virtual meeting, chaired by Ms Ayako Ito, Second Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN.
On behalf of UNESCO, Ms. Maki Hayashikawa, Director of the Division of Education 2030 Support and Coordination at UNESCO, briefed the gathering on the collective efforts of the international education community since March this year. She highlighted the launch of the Global Education Coalition to ensure coordinated global support of national educational responses to the pandemic, as well as the upcoming the extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting (2020 GEM) to be held on 20 – 22 October.
The 2020 GEM, organized by UNESCO and the Government of the United Kingdom, will focus on the global priority actions to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) in the context of COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, she said. This extraordinary session will serve as the platform for global leaders and high-level policy makers to agree on a set of global priority actions to be put in place by the end of 2021 for the recovery and strengthening of education systems at the country level. Ms Hayashikawa also informed that global leaders will explore a roadmap to improve the global SDG 4 - Education 2030 coordination mechanism. In the exchange with the participants, she stressed that efficient funding for education, safe reopening of schools, ensuring inclusion, equity and gender equality, as well as equitable access to connectivity and digital skills are among the main themes of the meeting
According to her, the outcome document “2020 GEM Declaration” will carry a strong signal on the determination of leaders and decision takers to accelerate progress toward SDG 4 in the COVID-19 context and beyond by delivering on a set of concrete global priority actions. In the run up to the drafting of the Declaration, a number of thorough consultations with Member States, development partners, regional organizations and civil society will take place
Ms. Simona Cruciani, Political Affairs Officer at the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, also briefed participants on the work in place to harness education as a tool to fight hate speech. She highlighted the UN Secretary-General’s Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19 Hate Speech (May 8, 2020) and United Nations Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech in line with the UN Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech launched last year. More specifically she briefed the participants on the preparations of the Global Education Ministers Conference on addressing and countering hate speech through education, organized jointly with UNESCO.
The Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning, co-chaired by Argentina, the Czech Republic, Japan, Kenya, and Norway, was established in January 2019 as an advocacy initiative to rally political commitments for education at the United Nations Headquarters. Together with 25 other countries-champions, the Group strives to advocate for the centrality of education for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.