Building peace in the minds of men and women

Education is a human right and a security imperative says UNESCO Director General

UNESCO Director-General urged for political leadership and private sector engagement to make education a central focus of the humanitarian response to the Syria Crisis, speaking at a special session organized during the World Economic Forum in Davos on 22 January with UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown .

"We have a responsibility to put education forward not only as a human right but as a security imperative," she said, highlighting its fundamental role in giving youth hope, skills and prospects for the future.  

‎"Here in Davos we are seeing an increasing convergence of views  between governments, private sector and a broad community of partners around the transformative role of education and skills for economic growth, poverty eradication, social inclusion, girls and women's empowerment  and the fight against radicalization," she said. "This lies at the core of the tremendous hope  carried by the universally adopted Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development." 

Special Envoy Gordon Brown voiced encouragement before the recognition by the business community in Davos that the humanitarian crisis ‎was also their concern.

'We need a collective effort to transform prospects for millions of children. ‎If we don't act, child marriage, labour and trafficking will just increase," he said, stressing the importance of the 4 February Syria Donor Conference in London and of the Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in June to increase significantly humanitarian funding for education, including through the creation of a new fund. 

Proof that the private sector is mobilizing ‎was reflected through the Global Business Coalition for Education's (GBC) announcement that the private sector committed $50 million to help in getting 1 milion Syrian refugees back to school. 

 GBC's Executive Chair Sarah Brown stated that this was not only about funding but creative ideas and expertise that required effective coordination on the ground to address complex challenges.  

 "The number of new technology companies and emerging businesses joining in this effort shows the enormous potential of harnessing future-oriented innovations from the private sector to address education in emergencies," she said in a statement.  Many of the commitments ‎come from organizations based in the Middle East. 

Ms Bokova praised the Coalition for mobilizing the private sector ‎in Davos. "This shows what can be done when there is commitment and a strong outreach strategy to the private sector.' 

Ms Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President of Intel, one of the Coalition's founding partners, stressed the importance of a holistic approach and sharing knowledge to drive social change.