Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Location: Trusteeship Chamber, UN headquarters, New York
Speakers: Mr Jan Eliasson (Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations), Ms Irina Bokova (Directo-General of UNESCO), Ms Amina Mohammed (Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning), Mr Alassane Djimba Soumanou (Minister of Secondary Education, Technical and Professional Training and Youth Integration, Benin), Dr Martha Kanter (Under Secretary of Education, USA)
Speakers of the moderated panel discussion: Dr Rukmini Banerji (Director of ASER Center/Pratham, India), Ms Jo Bourne (Associate Director of Education, UNICEF), Dr Teresa Bracho (Member of the Governing Board of the National Institute for the Evaluation of Education, Mexico), Mr Dennis Van Roekel (President of the National Education Association, USA), Ambassador Carsten Staur (Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations)
Moderated by Ms Alexis Gelber (Adjunct Professor at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University)
Attended by: Candace Tang, Nora Crossnohere, Marli Kasdan, Mary Lam, Alyssa Strasser, Iman Yashruti,Janice H.W. Wong, Sunny Hor
By Candace Tang
Building on the significant progress that has been made in expanding access and improving gender parity in primary and lower secondary education, the UN Secretary-General’s Global Initiative on Education calls on the global society to pay attention to the improvement in education quality.
Despite the efforts of international community to expand access, UNESCO’s 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report revealed a rather disheartening result. An estimated 250 million children are not able to read, write, or count well, though more than half of them have spent at least four years in school. The challenge today lies in the concern for the poor quality of education as well as the lack of holistic indicators to measure the inputs and the outcomes of learning.
Mr Jan Eliasson forwarded a message from the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, emphasizing that education is the key to create sustainable society. Providing young people with knowledge and ability to become a productive member of society is the foundation for a better future for all.
Ms Irina Bokova later on highlighted education as a basic human right and addresses the quality of learning as the central to this right. In order to empower the youth to contribute fully as global citizens, skills to escape poverty and unemployment must be efficiently passed on to future generations. The urge for public attention to shift its focus from the access of education to the access of quality was again echoed.
Reflecting on the five transformative shifts mentioned in the Post-2015 dialogue, Ms Amina Mohammed believed that each of the shifts can be applied to the field of education respectively. The big agenda remains in the gap in data issues. A measuring matrix must be developed to help us get implementations on scale and access resources in more innovative ways.
Benin, a member of the African Union, demonstrated the determination of the nation to invest in education. Mr Alassane Djmba Soumanou declared “A nation is its education, the way it learns, and the way their children learn.” However, he also mentioned the gap between education and jobs. Breaking with the past education system, he urged that schools must be responsive of what the community needs in order to train students with the capability of looking after themselves after education. Partnership between private sectors and schools has also been included in the shifts of the Post-2015 dialogue.
The opening session of the Global Education First Initiative was concluded by Ms Martha Kanter’s assertion that education is a sense of globally shared responsibility for the promotion of sustainable social prosperity and economic growth. “Every single person on the planet should be able to enjoy the rewards of the globalized world”, stated Ms Kanter. We are still in search of an integrated educational system that provides us with a cradle-to-career and life-time well-educated life.
Edited by Wayne Dean Doyle