The vision of education in the post-2015 development agenda must reflect two fundamental principles, said UNESCO's Assistant Director-General, Qian Tang.
He spoke at the Global Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda which opened on 18 March 2013, in Dakar, Senegal.
The first principle is that the right to quality education is a fundamental human right enshrined in normative frameworks and built into the legislation of most countries.
The second is that education is a public good. The state must be the custodian of the principles of education as a public good, paying particular attention to the promotion of equality.
Mr Tang also underlined that while governments must be in the driving seat, we also need to recognize that the delivery of education is a collective responsibility that involves families, communities, civil society organizations and business."We need to do a better job of harnessing all of these stakeholders to improve the delivery and financing of education," he said.
The Assistant Director-General also highlighted the need to consider what the last decades have taught us and build on these lessons before moving forward. He said that the first lesson is that Education for All is still very much an “unfinished agenda”.
Too many children remain out of school, and youth and adult illiteracy, school drop-out and inadequate learning outcomes persist at levels that are simply unacceptable.
Another lesson is that insufficient attention has been given to the quality of learning. "Teachers are central to quality learning at all levels and in all settings of education. As the role of teachers evolves from ‘transmitters of knowledge’ to ‘enablers of learning’, their preparation, status and conditions must remain a central concern”, said Mr Tang.
He welcomed the fact that that Education Ministers committed to a last ‘Big Push’ to accelerate efforts to reach the goals by 2015, at the Global Education for All Meeting held at UNESCO in November 2012.
The Global Education First Initiative recently launched by the UN Secretary-General would also be successful in mobilizing heads of state and other world leaders around this critical agenda, he said.
Four basic approaches
UNESCO envisages four basic approaches to the post-2015 agenda:
- Concern for peace and sustainable development should be at the centre of efforts to promote inclusive and equitable development beyond 2015. Education for global citizenship is already included in many countries’ curricula – but it needs to become a measureable goal.
- Any post-2015 development framework must be of universal relevance and mobilize all countries, regardless of their -development status, around a common framework of goals aimed at inclusive and sustainable development.
- The link between education and other development sectors must be strengthened: Education is an enabler for reaching all the Millennium Development Goals, but it is also dependent on progress in other policy areas.
- A framework for learning in the 21st century must be elaborated that promotes the development of inclusive lifelong learning systems.
UNESCO is contributing to framing the post-2015 education agenda in many ways. It has recently set up an international senior expert group to revisit two landmark education reports – the 1996 Delors report and the 1972 Faure report – and consider their relevance today. The outcomes of this review will be submitted to UNESCO’s General Conference in September 2013.
Following requests from our Member States, particularly in Africa, UNESCO is also supporting the development of national assessments of progress towards EFA since 2000. Complementing EFA Global Monitoring Report, these nationally-led assessments will steer countries’ debates on their future education agendas. They will also provide input into regional conferences, which in turn will feed the global education forum that the Government of the Republic of Korea has kindly agreed to host in the spring of 2015. This forum will summarize achievements since 2000 and set out a new global education agenda.