On 6 March 2015, UNESO Director-General Irina Bokova participated in an Information Meeting for Permanent Missions on the World Education Forum 2015 (WEF 2015), in the presence of United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea Mission to the UN, Mr Oh Joon.
This information meeting was organized in view of the WEF 2015 to be held in Incheon, Republic of Korea, from 19 to 22 May 2015, where the global community will take stock of achievements and shortfalls and agree on a joint position for the post-2015 agenda and how to realize it, ahead of the UN High-Level Summit in September.
“Following Jomtien (1990) and Dakar (2000), the World Education Forum in Incheon is the moment when the world will gather to set a new agenda for a better future for all,” said the Director-General.
Thanking the Republic of Korea for its leadership, she underlined that the World Education Forum 2015 is a landmark event. “It will be the moment to renew our vision and chart a new course, to put education first, to make sure no one is left behind,” she continued. “This is the moment for all of us to shape a new education agenda for the 21st century. A vision of education as a stand-alone goal in the future agenda, essential for the success of all other goals.” She appealed to every Member State to be represented at the highest possible level and for the engagement of all partners.
In his opening statement, the Secretary-General recalled that "the World Education Forum will take place at an important time for the United Nations as we prepare to adopt a new development agenda and launch a new set of Sustainable Development Goals. We hope that the outcome of the Forum will be fully aligned with that effort so that there is a single education agenda that delivers for all."
The Director-General went on to highlight the progress made across the world to improve access, advance gender equality and to strengthen education systems, affirming that “this shows what can be done when political will is matched with effective policy. But we must draw on the right lessons from this experience.” She called for a new focus on quality, to foster learning throughout life and help girls all the way through secondary education and beyond.
“At times of uncertainty, in this period of turbulence, education is our best bet, for human rights and dignity, for more sustainable development, for more lasting peace,” she said.
In support of the seminar on Global Citizenship Education that followed the Information meeting, the UN Secretary-General stated that "In an era of rising intolerance and extremist violence, global citizenship education will play a crucial role in promoting mutual understanding. It is essential to counter radicalization and the divisive, hate-filled narratives that extremists use to gain new recruits. The World Education Forum will be an important contribution to our efforts, and I wish to thank UNESCO for its leadership."
Opening the seminar, the Director-General stated that in this turning point year for the Millennium Development Goals, when States are defining a new global sustainable agenda, “challenges are global – we need to act globally in response. We need new skills for new times – we need new forms of global citizenship.”
“I make this appeal in the year when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of UNESCO,” said Irina Bokova. "More than ever, we need to bridge cultures through dialogue and respect, we need to learn to live together in solidarity, in harmony with the planet. More than ever, education must be more than transmitting information and knowledge.”
The seminar was co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Korea to the UN with the support of the Asia Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding. The event took place in the presence of the Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, H.E. Mr Hahn Choong-Hee.