The debates included the following sessions:
Providing meaningful learning opportunities to out-of-school children
In this session a panel of experts explored the changes needed in countries which have large out-of-school children populations as well as examples from countries which are ‘in the final mile’. “They are all different, they don’t fit into one box” said Mary Joy Pigozzi, Director of Educate A Child (EAC). Ms Pigozzi emphasized the need for attention to children who are displaced, conflict affected, working children, and so on. Mr Albert Montivans, Head of Education Indicators and Data Analysis at UNESCO Institute for Statistics added: “one of the priorities is to better the disadvantaged”.
The session was also attended by the Minister of Education, Haiti, Nesmy Manigat, the CEO of Global Partnership for Education Alice Albright, and the Director-General in the Romanian Ministry of Education, Liliana Preoteasa. The panelists raised their voices on ‘inclusion’, ‘partnership’, ‘financing’, and ‘sustainable planning’ in order to pull youngsters into the schooling system. The session concluded with further food for thought from Mr Nesmy Manigat, the Minister of Education,Haiti: “Let’s also talk about the children who are in school, yet they do not learn. Teach them what the meaning of school is - what do we need to do in school and not only focus on the policies”.
Mobilizing Business to Realize the 2030 Education Agenda
Representatives from business and education organizations gathered at a parallel session on mobilizing business to realize the 2030 agenda. Chaired by Justin van Fleet, Chief of Staff for the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, the session established a business case to invest in education and focused on how business can coordinate action with other stakeholders. The lively discussion saw questions from the floor around ICT’s, but also issues of trust; with a representative from the Philippines asking the panel whether business cares about education or is simply benefiting from it. The President of Lego Education, Mr Jacob Kragh, said there was a sincere objective from the company “to pursue the benefit of the children and make sure they get the chance to be the best they can in life”. He said that "taking over education was by no means the objective of the private sector", and reiterated the importance of working closely with governments and the public sector. Panelists also included Vikas Pota from GEMS Education, Martina Roth from Intel Corporation and Jouko Sarvi from the Asian Development Bank.
In parallel, Argentina’s Minister of Education, Alberto Sileoni, was joined by UNESCO Director, David Atchoarena, and UN Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Amina Mohammed, at a session on Global and regional coordination and monitoring mechanisms. The session dealt with the importance of having robust mechanisms for coordination and monitoring. Session participants looked at how global and regional mechanisms for education should work alongside the new mechanisms for the overall Sustainable Development Goal, with Mr Atchoarena pointing out that the focus on ‘country-level’ monitoring and review was much stronger in the new education agenda.
Effective Governance and Accountability
In this group session, the panelists suggested the right direction for contemporary national education governance. Namely the key policies and strategies to construct a pragmatic governance framework that is both regulatory and collaborative were suggested throughout the discussion.
The chair, Mr. Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO’s regional office in Bangkok, Thailand, posed three questions before the discussion: How can we define the term “effective governance”. What would be the role of the private sector and how to balance between autonomy resulting from decentralization, and accountability. The panels and the participants engaged in a lively debate: “Governance should focus on dialogue between communities in society so that private sector can become stakeholders to invest in education,” stated the Minister of Education, Bolivia, Roberto Aguilar, as an answer to the second question. He also gave an example from his country where education campaigns are usually funded by private institutions, saying it is social responsibility for private entities to participate actively in the effective governance framework.
The Minster of Education, Democratic Republic of Congo,Maker Mwangu Famba, said the core elements of effective governance were transparency and responsibility.
How does education contribute to sustainable development post 2015?
Sustainable development is not just about technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone. The realization of the transformative power of education and the importance of cross-sectoral approaches need to be taken into account. This was the message given by Ms Amina Mohammed, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Post 2015 Development Planning, as she said that education was not simply about learning, it is about empowerment and key in the sustainable development agenda. In this session, the panel members discussed how education can address global challenges, in particular how education contributes to addressing climate change and health issues and poverty reduction.
Education is one of the most powerful tools for people to be informed about diseases, take preventative measures, recognize signs of illness early and be informed to use health care services, the speakers highlighted. Mr Mark Brown, the Minister of Finance in Cook Islands, said that current knowledge as well as new knowledge should reach not only school children but also adults, as they are the educators.
The growing interaction between education and climate change cannot be neglected, Ms Kandia Camara, Minister of National Education, Cote d’lvoire, said: “There are school programs to teach healthy lifestyles and the importance of forests,” actions are being taken to ensure climate-safe and climate-friendly school environments.
Furthermore, Mr Renato Janine Ribeiro, Minister of Education in Brazil, expressed the difficulty of eradicating poverty, “the challenge we face is ‘hunger, they live in places that are very difficult to access”, he said. Hence, geographic placement poses as a barrier to accessibility. Yet, in order to mitigate the problem with a collective effort, he asserted that Brazil would be happy to share its valuable experience on education for sustainable development with any country in order to bolster efforts.
Towards the end of the session, the CEO of the Campaign for Popular Education, Bangladesh, Ms Rasheda Choudhury, firmly stated: “The two nonnegotiable principles are: first, education is a fundamental human right and second, it is the state’s responsibility to provide education to their every single citizen”.