Funding innovation key to quality education and lifelong learning

04 July 2017
“Progress has been made on access and quality of education but commitments on funding still need to be fulfilled,” said Ms Koumba Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education at the opening of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee’s third meeting held at UN Headquarters in New York on 29-30 June, 2017.  
 
As a global coordination group, the Steering Committee allows governments, specialized UN agencies, international, regional, and teacher organizations, private sector, foundations, youth and civil society networks a space to coordinate efforts and provide guidance for action at country level.  
 
Expressing hope in the power of global community efforts, Ms Boly Barry highlighted the need for international and national funding to be combined. She emphasized the important role of informal and alternative education while calling on government, international and regional mechanisms to “work with youth organizations and civil society to move mountains."
 
H.E. Dessima Williams, Special Adviser for the SDG Implementation, Office of the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, stressed that sustainable financing needed to be coupled with ‘strong political will.’ She also highlighted the Youth Roundtable organized on 28 June by UNESCO’s MGIEP as part of a high level event on education. At the event youth called for, among other things, “incentivizing the teaching profession and increasing paid internships”. 
 
Roles and responsibilities
 
Also touched on was the role of regional organizations which are in a position to help build public servant policy skills, mobilize partners, build on existing capacities and coordinate roles and responsibilities at regional and national levels. 
 
Mr Jan Pakulski, Head of Unit Studies, Impact Assessments, Analysis and Statistics DG Education and Culture, representing the European Commission said: “The European Commission has mechanisms and processes for peer learning among 28 countries.”  
 
Aaron Benavot, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report said, “Regional organizations provide inter-sectoral linkages, beyond a silo approach to education. They also have a pivotal role in helping to align national policies with global commitments and support peer learning.”
 
A common vision 
 
The need for a common vision was highlighted by Ms Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Deputy Director for Programme and Development, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat.  SEAMEO represents Regional Organizations for Asian and Pacific States at the Steering Committee. She said: “SEAMEO and the Association of South East Nations have set up a common mechanism regarding SDG4 implementation and monitoring”.
 
The Arab States region has developed a regional roadmap for the implementation of SDG4. Mr Abdusalam Aljoufi Advisor at Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States (ABEGS), representative of Regional Organizations for the Arab States, said the roadmap “takes into account the particular humanitarian context of the region in the SDG4 implementation”.
 
Minister of Education from the Maldives, Aishath Shiham, stated, “youth and adult illiteracy remains a major challenge in South Asia as we embark on SDG agenda… the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Education 2030 framework for action identifies specific challenges and proposes practical contextualized solutions for our countries”.  
 
This includes providing a platform for advancing regional cooperation and proposing innovative practical measures to help all the SAARC countries to achieve SDG4.
 
At the national level, Mr Victor Soo, Education Programme Officer at the Permanent Delegation of Kenya to UNESCO and one of the African States’ Regional Groups’ representative, explained: “Kenya and East Africa have been working full speed to align national and regional plans to SDG4 targets and commitments”. He stated that the “government of Kenya is planning to develop a PanAfrican roadmap for the implementation of the SDGs in March 2018”.  
 
Ms Florence Robine, Director, Direction Générale de l’Enseignement Scolaire, Ministry of Education in France, representing Western European and North American States’ Regional Group highlighted the challenges of new incoming populations. “Welcoming migrant populations and displaced populations, some coming from conflict zones, requires putting initiatives in place. Access for all to affordable studies and professional training and the elimination of discrimination and disparities is necessary for sustainable development. SDG4 is a guideline that we have mainstreamed into our plans, curricula and policies.”  
 
Speaking as representative of the E-9 countries Mr Sohorab Hossain, Secretary, Secondary and Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh said: “E-9 countries are home to half of out of school children, so significant progress on SDG4 for them would be game changing”.