This entry has been written by Lucía Rodríguez Donate, Advocacy Programme Coordination of the International Federation Fe y Alegría and GIAN for the Right to Education coordinator, Silvio Gutiérrez, Fe y Alegría Nicaragua director and Pedro Walpole, member of the GIAN of Ecology.
The World Education Forum celebrated in Incheon, South Korea, from May 19th to 21st has finished with the approval of a Declaration as the result of the agreement of governments, international organizations and civil society representatives from around the world. For starters, these are good news because it is not always easy to come to agreements in these terms. The Declaration states an ambitious vision of the Education for every person that wants to be achieved in the next 15 years.
In the way here, some significant progresses have been made and also some failures and in the last period two years of negotiations and conversations were needed. The International Federation Fe y Alegría has participated in this process through the UNESCO Collective NGOs Consult.
As the final result of this work week in Korea, we must highlight the importance given considering education as a Human Right and as a Public Good and how exercising it enables to exercise the rest of rights and duties. Education is the cornerstone of the sustainable development.
It gains a great importance the shared vision of transforming lives through education. Precisely, it is expected to “guarantee an inclusive, equitable and quality education promoting lifelong learning opportunities for everyone”.
It includes important unprecedented commitments in this kind of declarations in free education; the importance of positioning well trained and paid, motivated teachers; the centrality of equity and inclusion; the quality of education; the acknowledgment of the civil society participation of the civil society in the processes; and the financing commitments. The full Declaration will shortly be available but the key elements included which we value most positively are:
- 12 years of publicly-funded, free, equitable quality primary and secondary education, of which at least nine years are compulsory.
- At least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education and ensuring that all children have access to quality early childhood development, care and education.
- A commitment to address all forms of exclusion and marginalisation, disparities and inequalities in access, participation and learning outcomes.
- Recognition of the importance of gender equality in achieving the right to education, including a commitment to supporting gender-sensitive policies, planning and learning environments.
- Commitment to quality education and improving learning outcomes, including ensuring that teachers and educators are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally-qualified, motivated and supported.
- Commitment to quality lifelong learning opportunities.
- Recommendations on crisis responses and ensuring that education is delivered in safe, supported and secure learning environments
- An affirmation that the fundamental responsibility for implementing this agenda lies with the State.
- Urging adherence to spending at least 4-6% of GDP and/or allocating at least 15-20% of total public expenditure to education.
However, the challenges and the risk of failure are a fact. For this to be a success, the commitment of all is mandatory: governments, multilateral agencies, unions, ngos, the private sector, young organizations, etc…There is a long way for this good intentions declaration to be not only that but a concrete set of domestic policies and international cooperation roadmap. It becomes essential to develop an action framework that defines the goals and indicators and to narrow down the political declaration in the financing commitments of the countries at both levels, domestically and from the international cooperation.
The international community will meet in Addis Abbeba for the Financing for Development Summit in July and the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September. After these meetings, the UNESCO General Conference in November will set the Education 2030 Framework for Action that the governments will adopt. What will happen in the next months? Will we be able not to step backwards?
In order to make this political agenda a reality it is mandatory to make a greater investment in education for the following years and to allocate national and international means to it. UNESCO estimates that 22.000 million dollars are needed to achieve the education for all that we want. Will governments commit to it truly?
On behalf of Fe y Alegría International Federation we will do everything in our hands to contribute to make a reality the right to a lifelong quality education for everyone, through its daily work in communities, in the dialogue with policy makers, in the design of suggestions and proposals and all of it by the side of the educative community. There is a lot to do yet, but we can make it if we do it together.