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October 23, 2020

Heads of State & Government at Extraordinary UNESCO Meeting recommit to Education and its Financing during and after the Pandemic.

Unesco Education

Photo: UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the Global Education Meeting. UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX.

Unesco Education

Photo: Global Education Meeting. UNESCO Headquarters, Paris. Image provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX.

Paris, October 23, 2020 — Heads of State & Government, Ministers from over 70 countries, and international partners met online in an extraordinary Global Education Meeting convened by UNESCO, the governments of Ghana, Norway, and the United Kingdom on October 22. They adopted a Declaration expressing a strong commitment to protecting education financing and outlining measures to be chosen over the next year to safeguard education from the devastating impact of the disruption caused by COVID19.

“At a time when countries are making difficult choices and trade-offs to turn societies around, education must be our top priority, our pillar for recovery. And yet only a minuscule share - on average less than 1% - has been set aside for education and training in national stimulus packages. Financing education is not a cost: it is our most crucial long-term investment. If we do not allocate this funding now, we will face a bleaker future,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

The meeting brought together the UN’s Secretary-General, the Presidents of Angola, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Namibia, Portugal, and Rwanda. The Prime Ministers of Italy, Morocco, Norway, and Spain, the Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, and SDG Advocate Queen Mathilde of Belgium attended the meeting.

Over 65 ministers of education from the five continents took the floor in the meeting to share measures to counter the pandemic’s impact on learning, along with multilateral and regional organizations, the Global Partnership for Education, and the Education Above All Foundation, among others.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underlined that education is the solution, and financing and political will are critical.

Affirming that “education is at the heart of the EU’s investment in development,” the European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, announced, “the decision to increase EU financing of assistance to education in partner countries under my responsibility from 7% to 10%.”

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy declared that quality education would be one of the pillars of the Italian G20 presidency in 2021, focusing on people, the planet, and prosperity.

The UK’s Special Envoy for Education, Baroness Sugg, highlighted the United Kingdom’s G7 presidency’s focus. “The UK is standing up for every girl’s right to 12 years of quality education. It is putting this issue at the heart of our G7 Presidency and co-hosting a major Global Education Summit next year to raise funds to get children into school and build back better from coronavirus,” she said.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, co-host of the meeting, stated that “two elements are important for rapid recovery: financing and political commitment. In many cases, the right to education will remain an empty promise unless education spending increases. We need to mobilize more international financing for global education.”

The endorsed Declaration defines priority actions that are essential for educational recovery in the coming 15 months:

  1. Taking every measure to reopen schools safely and inclusively;
  2. Supporting all teachers as frontline workers and paying heed to their training and professional development;
  3. Investing in skills development from the socio-emotional dimension to gaining competences for new jobs;
  4. Narrowing the digital divide that has shut out education for one-third of the world’s students.

These priority actions require that education budgets be at least protected, if not increased.

In the Declaration, governments and partners state their commitment to:

  1. Maintain or increase the share of public spending on education to at least 4-6% of GDP and 15-20% of public expenditure;
  2. Ensure that stimulus packages support measures that will mitigate learning losses and get the most vulnerable back to school;
  3. Increase the volume, predictability, and effectiveness of international aid;
  4. target assistance to countries and populations most in need, including those not reached by government programs.

The endorsed Declaration also condemns recent attacks on teachers, students, and schools and reaffirms education and teachers’ role.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said that Kenya “included a large education component in our economic stimulus package.”

Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said that “the modernization of our education system is a priority for this Government,” and “that education and professional development would become a cross-cutting policy involving all government ministries.

Colombia’s President Ivan Duque Marquez asserted that the pandemic brought understanding that education is the most important public policy tool to transform societies.

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie, who has supported UNESCO’s Global Education Coalition, stated that “all countries face huge pressures. But to try to balance the books at the expense of education would be utterly self-defeating, as well as morally indefensible.”

In their interventions, numerous participants recognized UNESCO’s role in improving global education coordination to accelerate progress towards SDG4.

As part of the Global Education Meeting, a group of global organizations called for urgent investment in education to prevent a generational catastrophe.

Source: UNESCO, Paris



“The first duty of government is to see that people have food, fuel, and clothes. The second, that they have means of moral and intellectual education.”

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 12:32 PM | Link to this Post

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