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“Investment, innovation and data for a better assessment” day 1 on the High Level Political Forum on the SDG 4

“Investment, innovation and data for a better assessment” day 1 on the High Level Political Forum on the SDG 4

  • Posted: Jul 11, 2019 -
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During this week we are participating in the official review of the Sustainable Development Goal SDG 4 in the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development of the United Nations. In the hands of Nate Radomski, Friends of Fe y Alegría Coordinator in the United States and thanks to the nature of the NGO with Consultative Status of Fe y Alegría Federation, this is a privileged space to update and agree on the challenges and reflections that are handled in the international context of education in the world.

These sessions bring together government officials, government agencies, the private sector and a large civil society that is pointing out crucial emphases to illuminate the strategies to come if we really want to achieve this Goal by 2030.

From the education sector they warned that the world is facing a global education crisis: unless rapid action is taken, they warned, the world would not achieve inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030. Four years after the implementation of this SDG, UNESCO, warned that if current trends continue, the number of children and young people not enrolled in 2030 will only partially decrease from 264 million to 225 million. According to the latest data from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (DESA), about 617 million children and young people in the world lack a good foundation in mathematics and reading . If this trend continues, they warned that this number will increase close to 1.4 billion in 2030.

In the panel in which education leaders and NGOs from around the world participated, they also denounced that the progress and implementation of SDG 4 is taking place at a slower pace than expected. To achieve sustainable results, they stressed that more national funding, both private and public, is needed to improve public education systems. To overcome these obstacles and achieve the goals of SDG 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, the participants told all interested parties to consider three lines of action: a more efficient and equitable investment in public education; an increase in innovation; and a better statistical analysis.

In addition, the debate on the importance of the quality of education for the sustainable development of the world population, framed in a model of global citizenship, was outstanding. “The world must train students who are critical thinkers and global citizens with empathy, tolerance, creativity and compassion. We must work in marginalized and vulnerable communities: rural communities, indigenous people, migrants / refugees …

Taking care of the one who teaches

Parallel panels highlighted the role that the body of teachers must play and play, which has to respond to the challenges and the educational model in question. It was pointed out, as from Entreculturas we claim where we work, that the teaching profession is valued because it is still unattractive and this is due to a variety of factors, including: large volume of work, low wages, poor conditions, investment inefficient public, less respect for human rights, such as the right to organize. Among the measures proposed in the debate, it is crucial to develop new tools and holistic support systems to hire new teachers.

We invite you to follow the Forum updates through social media searching for the hashtags: 
#HLPF
#SDGs
#GlobalGoals

SDG 4 to review: The High-level Political Forum in the UN

SDG 4 to review: The High-level Political Forum in the UN

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2019 -
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The High-level Political Forum (HLFP) is the central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, provides for the full and effective participation of all States Members of the United Nations and States members of specialized agencies. 

The 2019 HLPF, from 9-18 July, looks at the fourth Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG 4) for the first time.

Three new publications are being launched to mark the occasion:

beyond commitments cover

Beyond commitments how do countries implement SDG 4 
Produced under the auspices of the SDG – Education 2030 Steering Committee, this special report shows the different ways that countries have taken on the challenge of implementing SDG 4 at the national level. It showcases good practices from countries that have reflected SDG 4 in their policies since 2015 and suggests a new framework for assessing the extent to which their policies match their 2030 commitments in the future.

Available languages:

English
 

meeting commitments cover

Meeting commitments: are countries on track to achieve SDG 4?Co-produced with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, this paper highlights the first ever projections for SDG 4 targets. A third of the way to 2030, it shows that the world is drastically off track. By 2030, one in six children, adolescents and youth will still be out of school. Only six in ten young people will be completing secondary education.

Available languages:

English / Français / Español

hlpf comic book cover image

Let’s work together- Education has a key role in helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals A new six-part cartoon that highlights the links and synergies between education and many of the other sustainable development goals. The cartoon shows the importance of sectors working together to achieve their aims.

Available languages:

English

International Mother Language Day: why indigenous knowledge can be lost and also restored through education

International Mother Language Day: why indigenous knowledge can be lost and also restored through education

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2019 -
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February the 21st marks the International Mother Language Day. It appeared in support of the Bengali Language Movement, which on its recognition party in 1952 ended in a tragedy: the Pakistani police and army, occupying Bangladesh by that time, opened fire on the multitude of speakers demonstrating for their language rights in Dhaka. Since the year 2000, when it was proclaimed by UNESCO, this day has been celebrated with the aim of promoting linguistic diversity, which is under increasing threat. The reality is serious and the statistics do not lie: every two weeks, on average, a language disappears. With the extinction of a language memory and an irretrievable heritage are also extinguished.

 

This reality has a direct impact on the right to education, as figures show that 40% of the world’s population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand. However, there is a growing awareness and advocacy of the importance of education systems in contributing to avoid the disappearance of languages. Apart from inclusion, a key reason for respecting indigenous language in education is the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge into schools. This is not footling: these days, for example, traditional knowledge is recognized as an important tool for adapting to climate change. For this reason, for example, Mundiya Kepanga, member of the Huli tribe in Papua New Guinea, attended the launch event of our GEM Report 2016 on “Education in the service of peoples and the planet”, describing how, in his school, he “learned to live in harmony with, and take care of, our planet”.

 

Linguistic diversity also creates challenges, in areas such as teacher recruitment, curriculum development and teaching materials, and policies for bilingual education are often not fully implemented. In Chile, when the indigenous languages were incorporated into official curricula in 2010, teachers in an intercultural and bilingual preschool felt that, in addition to learning the language, they needed more cultural knowledge and first-hand experience with indigenous communities.

 

And yes, although some may deny it, education is not necessarily the answer to this problem. Education can be both a reason why indigenous knowledge is lost and a potential way to restore it. Days like this, years like 2019, help us to re-evaluate our education policies and programs to make sure that we are not part of the problem, but rather part of the solution.

UNESCO has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019), stating that “we hope that the actions taken during IYIL2019 will generate as much interest and positive change as possible for indigenous languages and for those who speak them. The survival of indigenous languages plays a vital role in the sustainable development of the communities that speak them. As such, the events taking place during IYIL2019 must take into account the three main themes of the year, covering both the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

 

“It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few. Through language, people preserve the history, customs and traditions of their community, memory, unique modes of thought, meaning and expression. Language is fundamental in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace-building, reconciliation and sustainable development.

INTERNATIONAL ACTIONS AT 2019 Global Action Week for Education

INTERNATIONAL ACTIONS AT 2019 Global Action Week for Education

  • Posted: Jan 29, 2019 -
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Global Action Week for Education constitutes one of the cornerstones of the education movement. Launched and led by the Global Campaign for Education, it is a platform that offers the opportunity to carry out specific activities to bring about change and bring the whole world together for the same cause. It involves four regional networks including 91 countries and around 120 organizations.

The #EducationDay, is celebrated today, January 24th all over the world and, in this article, we would like to highlight some of the several actions that have been launched across the globe:

 

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA

In Europe, apart from the actions that have been promoted in Spain by Entreculturas and some other NGOS, some of the most important projects are the following:

In Whales a research issue has been proposed celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Warnock Report. This research calls for papers addressing a wide range of issues on the importance of responding to special educational needs. There are also campaigns promoted by the Department of Education of the Government of the United Kingdom. These include a strong social media presence by means of videos and multimedia content from the Education Leads to Empowerment campaign.

UKAid has opted for social media campaigns to publicize International Education Day; following this mechanism, Save the Children Denmark celebrates the day by sharing some images with its followers.

In the USA, initiatives such as the Ingnatians for Peace and Justice Club of Cleveland has initiated the Red Chair Project to raise awareness of the challenges in education that exist today.

AFRICA

One African Child, Sustainable Development (ESD) & Global Citizenship Education (GCED) work to promote a better life for children from low-income communities in both Nigeria and Kenya. Through their platforms, they are running an interesting campaign in schools in cities like Lagos in order to improve the education levels and opportunities in the area.

In Kenya, organisations such as GRoots have held small discussions on the importance of girls’ education for a better future. Also, in some schools in the country have celebrated this special day with their students.

Along the same lines as Kenyans, in Nigeria, Nigerian Youth for Education has also generated a small online debate to analyze the role of education in society. Similarly, the Nigerian civic organization BudgIT has used the day to formulate a Freedom of Information request to the Universal Basic Education Commission.

ASIA PACIFIC

In Asia-Pacific countries, the Asia Child Rights Coalition has promoted the day by publishing a review of sustainable development goals in relation to quality education.

For its part, the United Nations office in Vietnam on International Education Day promotes the education and training of women and girls in a special way.

Some institutions in Pakistan’s Punjab province published today: @SchoolEduPunjab First United Nations International Education Day is celebrated today all over the world. GOPunjabPK and the Department of School Education stand firmly in their determination to provide inclusive, equitable and quality education to all children in the province.

 

MIDDLE EAST

In Jordan, Queen Rania has published on the networks an image in which she participates with students from a school in an event related to International Education Day. In this line, the United Nations headquarters in Palestine recall their work to promote the right to education through the reconstruction and construction of educational institutions in Gaza with the collaboration of Qatar.

Finally, the Qatari network AlJazeera has posted an inspiring video in which Ken Robinson talks about creativity and education.

7 Q&As to Koumbou Boly Barry, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education

7 Q&As to Koumbou Boly Barry, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education

  • Posted: Jan 15, 2019 -
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The Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Dr. Koumbou Boly Barry, from Burkina Faso, took office on 1st August 2016 following her appointment at the 32nd session of the Human Rights Council.

UNESCO has asked Dr. Koumbou seven questions about the status of the right to education in today’s world.

  1. What role does the UN Special Rapporteur play in the field of the right to education?

My job and responsibility are to ensure that the right to education is respected and implemented worldwide, as well as to report violations. I listen to those who are deprived of their right to education, whether they are individuals or people represented by the civil society. My position also allows me to act as an intermediary between the various actors who play a key role in guaranteeing this right, both at the governmental level and within the legal system, as well as at the budgeting and planning stages. It is essential to ensure this right and to monitor it to ensure that it is effectively implemented. My role is not only to monitor progress in implementing the right to education, but also to assist governments in their efforts to improve, innovate and expand the access to quality education for all.

  1. What is the current status of the right to education?

The truth is that approximately one billion people worldwide do not benefit yet from their right to education, and that the majority of them are women and young people. Although the right to education is improving rapidly around the world, the quality of education still remains as one of the greatest challenges. Are today’s children really learning and acquiring skills? This is something in which we must seriously focus on and continue to follow up in order to build an equitable society. The digital divide is another major challenge. There is a significant risk that millions of people will be excluded. We need to take advantage of innovations and expand them to reach all classrooms and provide equal opportunities for students around the world. We also need to inculcate more values through curricula. Teaching coexistence, tolerance, peace, trust and respect for one another is fundamental to combating fear and hate.

  1. What have been the key achievements?

We must note the achievements over the years. Some countries in Africa have made more achievements during the last 10 years than in more than 60. From school infrastructures for the literacy and education of the girls to the use of technologies for learning, there are plenty of examples of reached targets. It is essential that civil society is involved in education: UNESCO’s normative role in favor of the right to education is essential and the Organization has greatly contributed to this fundamental right.

  1. What is the greatest challenge?

The poor governance of the education systems is one of the major challenges we face. When defining and planning a country’s education sector it is important that all partners are present to participate and contribute to the success of education in their own communities and to create a comprehensive vision emphasizing early childhood education, technical and vocational education and training and research. Budgeting and decision-making in education must be decentralized so that it can be adapted to the needs of different areas and specific vulnerable groups such as displaced people, refugees, poor families and people with disabilities. Communities and schools themselves must be able to make decisions that respond to their needs. Local actors such as parents’ associations and NGOs must be involved in these issues. These are the dynamics that we must apply at school level.

 

  1. What has been the worst violation of the right to education that you have witnessed?

There are many examples. Disabled children deprived of education because they cannot access school facilities. Pupils and teachers imprisoned and even killed for having demanded respect for their right to education or better working conditions. Pregnant girls expelled from school. There are still many places where these severe violations take place every day and this is unacceptable. There is still much to be done.

 

  1. What would you have done differently in your own career?

Having been Minister of Education and Literacy in Burkina Faso, I know that the key decisions taken at the political level affect millions of people as well as their future. I would have liked to become more involved in politics in order to bring about the necessary reforms and changes to my country’s education system.

 

  1. Who inspired you?

My grandmother was an important source of inspiration to me when I was a child. She was a woman of a strong, independent and open character. She taught me from a very young age to take my responsibilities seriously. Alice Tiendrebeogo, author and teacher, former Minister of Education of Burkina Faso, is also one of the people who inspired my career. And, of course, like millions of Africans and people around the world, I admire Nelson Mandela. His wisdom and values will continue to stand and light the way for future generations.

 

Koumbou Boly Barry

Dr. Boly Barry holds a PhD in Economic History from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. She is the former Minister of Education and Literacy of Burkina Faso and has consulted widely for various governments and international institutions on the right to education. Dr. Boly has been an advocate on gender issues in education. She also has ample knowledge and experience in training and research, a visiting professor at University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, University of Louvain La Neuve Belgium, a lecturer at Ouagadougou University ,Burkina Faso ,Vitoria University, Brazil and Fribourg University, Switzerland. She replaces Mr.Kishore Singh from India.

Originally posted in PatrimonioCultural.com and translated from Spanish to English.

6th World Assembly on Education concludes with new President and new Board

6th World Assembly on Education concludes with new President and new Board

  • Posted: Nov 27, 2018 -
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The second and third days of the World Assembly have been crucial for the movement to determine its collective structure and strategic approach. The Global Campaign for Education strategic plan and policy proposals adopted at the World Assembly will define how the movement will continue to progress towards its goals over the upcoming years.

During Saturday the new strategic plan which will set out the central objectives, priorities and goals of the organization for the next four years (2019-2022) was shaped. GCE’s political positions were also shaped and the current Constitution was revised to propose amendments. A key moment of the Assembly, which also took place on Saturday, was the election of the new GCE President and Board. And one of the amendments passed during this Assembly has been the creation of a seat on the Board of Directors for a youth organization.

 

New President

A new elected president, Refat Sabbah, the Secretary General of the Arab Campaign for Education for All (ACEA), takes the initiative to lead the movement towards a transformative, sustainable and fair future, and to ensure the strengthening of collective efforts to hold governments accountable for quality free public education worldwide.

Throughout my life, I have received immense support from my friends and colleagues, whom I consider role models and who play an important role in this growing movement.  I will do everything I can to achieve the just transition that we are all striving for. We still need you and depend on all of you to advise, guide and promote the movement in your regions and national coalitions. I am committed to serving you all and taking the movement to the next level” said Refaat Quote, President of the Global Campaign for Education.

Elected on November 17 at the 6th World Assembly by an overwhelming majority, Sabbah will provide overall strategic direction for the next four years. Refaat Sabbah, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Lifelong activist for human rights and education. He is the Director General and Founder of the Center for Teacher Creativity in Palestine, the President of the Arab Network for Civic Education (ANHRE), and has served on the GCE board since 2015. Refaat also founded ACEA, which represents eleven national education coalitions and three regional coalitions from Arabic-speaking countries.

Over the years, the movement has been led by incredible leaders, from the first Kailash Satyarthi to Camilla Croso, who has served since 2011 (re-elected for the second time in 2015). These crucial elections of both President and Board Members determine the direction of the movement for the coming years.

The coordinator of the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) and outgoing Chairperson Camilla Croso added that “being President of this global and diverse movement has been an honor and a pleasure. I wish to express my sincere appreciation for the collective commitment to economic, social and environmental justice, as well as human rights. At this World Assembly we face challenges and celebrate successes, yet we know that tangible action is still required to ensure a truly transformed education system. I am proud to have walked this journey with all of you and now I leave you in the hands of Refat Sabaah to guide us towards a future that guarantees a good quality public education for all.”

 

New Board

During this 6th world assembly, GCE constituencies elected their new members and board members.

Mr Samuel Dembele (ANCEFA) has been appointed Chairman of the Board. Samuel Dembele is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Network of the Education for All Campaign (ANCEFA; since November 2015), Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Coalition of Education for All in Burkina Faso (CN-ÉPT BF; since April 2014) and General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers for Secondary and High Education (SNESS; since 2010).

Ms Madeleine Zuniga of the Peruvian Campaign for the Right to Education is the new Vice President and Mr Mugwena Malukele of Education International (EI) has been elected as Vice Chair.

 

Article originally posted in Spanish language here

Fe y Alegría International Federation attends the World Assembly for Education in Nepal

Fe y Alegría International Federation attends the World Assembly for Education in Nepal

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2018 -
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During this week, November 13-18, the 6th World Assembly of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is being held in Kathmandu, Nepal. In this conference, GCE members and partners from all four corners of the world gather to discuss crucial and emerging issues regarding education.

The Global Campaign for Education is the world’s largest civil society organisation working to make the right to quality education a reality for all. The World Assembly, held every four years, is the governing body of the Global Campaign for Education, which brings together members of the GCE organisation to reflect over the achievements of the organization, share the knowledge gained during the previous period, discuss current and emerging issues in global education and participate in shared strategic planning for the next four years.

Lucía Rodríguez Donate from Fe y Alegría International Federation and Luis Carlos Soler, representative of the Red Generación 21+, are currently in Nepal. The World Assembly is one of the largest international gatherings of campaigners in the education sector. 

The theme of the 6th World Assembly is “Transforming education systems to achieve equality, inclusion and justice”. The topic reflects the fundamental belief of the Global Campaign for Education that education is a human right, and that quality education for all is achievable if both governments and the international community have the necessary political will to engage and invest in education policies. It also defines the central strategic areas of focus for the Organisation in the upcoming years.

There will be three main moments:

November 13TH: FRESCE Global Learning Event
It will bring together all national and regional members who are currently funded by the FRESCE program and who often do not have the opportunity to work together in the regions, only about every three or four years, therefore, it is a great chance to discuss in depth, share challenges and successes and to learn from each other.

You can follow the event through the hashtag #EduLearning2018; #EducationResearch #AdvocacyResearch

November 14TH-15TH: Pre-World Assembly Youth Meeting
This year is the very first time that the Global Campaign for Education will organize this event. During two days, young education campaigners from all over the world are invited to discuss and debate the main issues related to the education sector today. In addition, representatives will be invited to present their policy recommendations to be discussed and adopted by the World Assembly.  You can follow the event through the hashtag #gceyouthcaucus2018

November 16TH, 17TH, 18TH: World Assembly
It will have three highlights: a one-day policy forum for a high-level debate on the future of education, a reflection on the impact of GCE and on how to move forward to achieve the targets of SDG 4 that will result in the new GCE strategic plan and policy r, and the election of the Board and the new GCE president.
You can follow all about the Assembly on the Facebook and Twitter accounts from the Global Campaign for Education Spain or through the hashtag #GCEWorldAssembly2018.

Calling for change through a renewed vision and a “holy anger”: Father General’s address to GIAN and social apostolate coordinators

Calling for change through a renewed vision and a “holy anger”: Father General’s address to GIAN and social apostolate coordinators

  • Posted: May 22, 2018 -
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In a meeting for discernment and apostolic planning, Father General Arturo Sosa SJ reminded leaders of the Global Ignatian Advocacy Networks (GIAN) and Social Apostolate Coordinators who met in Rome from 23 to 27 April 2018 of the need for “a renewed vision of the deep link between social justice, care for the environment, the struggle for peace and faith.  All this, together, moves people to work for reconciliation among themselves, with creation and God.”  And to bring about change, “we need a kind of passion, a ‘holy anger’… a passion that cries ‘enough.’”

“The GIAN groups are our effort to be a catalyst for this change. I ask you to find the passion and the mission that can re-energise these structures… I know that unless we are focused, specific and targeted, our advocacy will not work well.”

And with preparations underway for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Pan-Amazon region that will take place in the Vatican in October 2019, Father General sees this effort by Pope Francis as “a concrete way to help move the Church to implement Laudato Si’” and “also a call to the Society of Jesus to focus on reconciliation with creation as a dimension of the mission we have received.”

The Society of Jesus is currently undertaking a discernment process of their Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAP) that involves a discernment in common, using the GC 36 decrees as a background, Father General’s letter that launched the discernment process, and the initial chapters of the book Shaping our Future.

Ecojesuit shares below a slightly revised version of Father General’s address during the meeting in Rome:

This is a meeting for discernment and apostolic planning and discernment in common means to hear together the Holy Spirit and to make decisions according to the inspiration we feel together.  It is possible only if we gain interior freedom as individuals, as a group, as an apostolic sector of the Society.  It is a conditio sine qua non for this or any group to liberate itself from a sectorial vision of the Society’s mission.  GC 36 is asking this group and the entire apostolic body of the Society to acquire the look of the Holy Trinity.  We are called to look at history with their eyes and find out how we, as a universal apostolic body, can do our best (magis) to make a contribution to the redemption of human beings.  It is also important to remember that discernment in common is a prior condition for apostolic planning.

The next challenging step is apostolic planning.  Both words are important.  The first one is apostolic that means that what we do is not a product of our minds, but a call we receive to be sent to collaborate in the missio Dei.  We are an apostolic body, i.e., a group of people “sent” to be part of a mission.  Therefore, we are not the owners of the mission.  We are followers – disciples of Jesus sent to be witnesses of His Good News.

Planning involves taking seriously this condition of apostolic body.  We are administrators of somebody else’s resources and we are committed to do that work in the best possible way.  We are a group responsible for the call to participate in the reconciliation of all things in Christ.  And so we try hard to do our best.  Following this mission has become, for each one of us and for this group, the deepest sense of why we do what we do.

After the UAP are formulated will come the process of planning how a complex apostolic body like the Society of Jesus can be oriented in the next 10 years.  Provinces, Conferences of Major Superiors, apostolic areas and apostolic works have their own plans.  How can the UAP help the Society in its apostolic planning at all levels to be more focused?  How can the UAP lead us to a better use of our limited resources?

GC 36 confirms and focuses the mission of faith and justice, dialogue and interculturality that inspired our commitment for more than 50 years, since the Second Vatican Council and from GC 32 up to GC 35.  This confirmation means a renewed vision of the deep link between social justice, care for the environment, the struggle for peace and faith.  All this, together, moves people to work for reconciliation among themselves, with creation, and with God.

It is a confirmation of a deep current, of a deep way forward for us, in a world that is at a new moment in history and has become quite different from the world during the post-Vatican II years.  Here is a very important challenge for the apostolic body of the Society of Jesus and for the social dimension of its apostolate: to come to know, understand and share with others what is happening in human history and to find effective ways to help to move it to the reconciliation and justice shown in the Gospel.a

“We come together to form a body of Jesuits and partners in mission organized in such a way that collaboration is a characteristic of the entire apostolic body. Our action is also in collaboration with others within the Church or with those persons and groups struggling for social justice, with peacemakers and with those working for the preservation of the environment.”

“We come together to form a body of Jesuits and partners in mission organized in such a way that collaboration is a characteristic of the entire apostolic body. Our action is also in collaboration with others within the Church or with those persons and groups struggling for social justice, with peacemakers and with those working for the preservation of the environment.”

Getting out of poverty, the possibility to access quality education, participation in making political decisions democratically: these remain unrealised wishes for the great majority of human beings.  How can we, as a universal apostolic body, improve our commitment to help these desires to be accomplished?  How can we face the ambiguous process of human mobility in the actual world where there are new ways of interaction among individuals and peoples oriented to a more integrated humanity, side by side with people fleeing from war or poverty?  How we can combat the trafficking of human beings and new forms of slavery?

Many other questions about our mission of reconciliation and justice can come from what is going on in the world today.  The GC 36 puts before us a very special one:

GC36 asks Father General to continue to work with Major Superiors and Conferences to promote, within the communities and ministries of the Society, a consistent culture of protection and safety for minors, in keeping with the suggestions of the Congregation regarding formation, community life, ministries and governance.

The promotion of a consistent culture of safeguarding involves the transformation of unjust existing structures and a deep change in every culture.  It also a matter of promoting the human rights of vulnerable people.  And so, I have decided that the implementation of this project be entrusted to the Secretary for Social Justice and Ecology.

Pope Francis has convoked a special Synod in 2019 on Amazonia.  It is a concrete way to help move the Church to implement Laudato Si’.  Maybe is also a call to the Society of Jesus to focus on reconciliation with creation as a dimension of the mission we have received.  It is very clear that Pope Francis is thinking not only about a specific geographical area of the world, but that he also wants to move us to more concrete apostolic actions regarding the care of our common home.  How can we introduce this matter in our discernment in common and apostolic planning?

An important accent put by GC 36 is that we are collaborators with God’s action in history today and we are called to become companions in a mission of reconciliation and justice.  To become companions means that we see ourselves as collaborators.  We come together to form a body of Jesuits and partners in mission organized in such a way that collaboration is a characteristic of the entire apostolic body. Our action is also in collaboration with others within the Church or with those persons and groups struggling for social justice, with peacemakers and with those working for the preservation of the environment.

Globalisation today brings us together across the globe and makes networking easier.  Of course it has also widened the gap between rich and poor so it is not totally a blessing – in fact there are many problems.  But, without doubt, it gives us the ability to be a universal body for mission and our Jesuit networks have opportunities now that 10 years ago did not exist.

Since we are largely organized on province lines, the existence of interprovincial networks can be a challenge.  GIAN, as a relatively new project, is experiencing some of the pains of being an interprovincial network in a largely provincial Jesuit structure.  The issues that GIAN addresses are vital ones:

  • Migration
  • Ecology – care of our Common House
  • Governance of mineral and natural resources
  • The right to quality education
  • Peace and Human Rights

Through Laudato Si’, Pope Francis “also wants to move us to more concrete apostolic actions regarding the care of our common home. How can we introduce this matter in our discernment in common and apostolic planning?”

Through Laudato Si’, Pope Francis “also wants to move us to more concrete apostolic actions regarding the care of our common home. How can we introduce this matter in our discernment in common and apostolic planning?”

These are words on a page.  But they represent so much human suffering.  Think of the wars in Syria and in Kivu, in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Think of the millions on the move, searching for a better life because the world’s political and economic system has failed them totally.  Think of the children without education who have to work from a young age.  Think of people exploited in mines so that people in boardrooms and stock markets can make big profits.

To bring change, we need a kind of passion, a “holy anger” if I can put it that way.  We need a passion that cries “enough.”  We need a passion that mobilises people of faith and all people of goodwill to work together for change.  Because the Gospel is about change, about liberation.

The GIAN networks are our effort to be a catalyst for this change.  I ask you to find the passion and the mission that can re-energise these structures.  I ask you to identify, very specifically, the changes you want in each of these areas and then to map out how to get there with an outline of resources needed and a time frame (which for sure will have to be flexible).  Advocacy is not an easy task and the Society needs to improve the ways we do it.

I know that unless we are focused, specific and targeted, our advocacy will not work well.  The Social Justice and Ecology office here exists precisely to help with such strategizing and help the GIAN groups to find that focus, that passion, that energy, that direction.

I see here people at this table who have great experience in all these areas.  Please use that expertise to bring people to freedom.  Use it to fight for justice.  Pope Paul VI said: ‘if you want peace work for justice’.  We do want peace.  Peace is a Gospel promise, a beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers”, a fruit of the Resurrection.  And so, our mission for the service of faith and the promotion of Justice is foundational, moving us beyond any ideology to a service of Christ carrying His cross and laboring for the peace that the world cannot give.

Thank you again for your presence here. It inspires me in my work. It gives me the consolation and the energy to tackle the issues that face me here every day.

The Society has a great mission and you, both lay people and Jesuits, are part of trying to take it forward and renew it as you discern, pray and work together so that the frontiers of unbelief and of poverty, of discrimination and injustice can be pushed back and so that people can find true liberation and reconciliation based on the Gospel promise and on the person of the Risen Christ.

Thank you and I wish every blessing for your meeting here and an enjoyable and fruitful time in Rome.

Arturo Sosa SJ

Declaration: civil society organizations are optimistic about the replenishment of education funding

Declaration: civil society organizations are optimistic about the replenishment of education funding

  • Posted: Feb 22, 2018 -
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The organizations participating in the Dakar Financing Summit have issued a joint Declaration in which they celebrate the significant progress of the countries gathered in Dakar to finance the right to education.

The most important commitments of the conference were those of the developing countries, which added approximately 30,000 million dollars, in additional financing. In addition, the European Union, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway add a promise of funding that reaches almost 1,800 million dollars. The new Member State of the AME, United Arab Emirates (UAE) will also support an initial contribution of 100 million dollars. The total amount pledged by donors in this replenishment period exceeded 2,000 million dollars. Although this amount is much higher than promised in 2014, it does not reach the goal set by the AME for the next three years, which aims to reach 2,000 million dollars a year by 2020.

On the promises of partner countries in development, even with the significant commitments established today, is not enough to overcome the educational crisis. Worldwide, 264 million children and young people are still out of school, the majority of whom are girls, and 617 million children are in school, but fail to learn the basic skills, due to the scarcity quality of the education they receive. More funding is urgently needed to ensure that SDG 4 is reached on time. Achieving a real breakthrough in the financing of education will require significant internal resources; and that requires social justice. The flows of illicit financing, tax evasion and avoidance, as well as harmful tax incentives, must end. On this, Croso said: “The key to financing education is social justice.” The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, argued energetically about the event: “There is money available in the continent to finance education for this goal, but we must eliminate corruption and illicit financial flows.”

The Norwegian delegation at the conference increased its current contribution by 40% and also, as its delegate said: “committed to increase support to countries with the will to expand their tax base”. Support for various levels of progressive tax systems is fundamental for sustainable global development and for the achievement of education for all.

Now it is the turn of civil society to commit to follow-up on promises in the next three years. We must see these funds arrive where they are most needed, and ensure that they are spent sensitively to improve inclusion, equity, and quality in public education systems.

Check here the complete Declaration of the Civil Society Organizations present at the Dakar Financing Summit.

International Day against the use of child soldiers: the right to education in danger

International Day against the use of child soldiers: the right to education in danger

  • Posted: Feb 22, 2018 -
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On the occasion of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, which was held on February 12, we recall the importance of exercising the right to education as a factor of protection against conflicts and how the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) contributes to it.

There is often a close relationship between forced displacement and forced recruitment of minors. Displaced children are an easy target to be recruited because they often lack protection and education, which makes them more easily manipulated. Girls and boys, some of them with less than six years old who are forced to fight and kill, or are involved in espionage activities. They are forced to lend, support armed groups as informants or messengers or participate in illicit activities such as drug production.

Sometimes girls are also sexually harrased. Many die, are seriously injured or end up prisoners. They are victims of constant abuse that transforms them into violent people, which makes their reintegration into society an enormous challenge.

In the world, more than 230 million children live in areas affected by armed conflicts. The Secretary General of the United Nations, in his 2016 report on childhood, notes the existence of child soldiers in 20 countries, most of the African continent and the Asian region of the Middle East, where there is a higher number of children. armed conflicts. The report highlights the increase in the number of cases of recruitment and use of minors in countries such as Somalia and the Syrian Arab Republic (whose number in 2016 increased by more than two compared to 2015), as well as the high number of cases in South Sudan, where one of the highest numbers of children recruited for military purposes is recorded (1,100).

A “child or girl soldier” is defined as any person under the age of 18 who is part of any type of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, such as, but not limited to, chefs, porters, messengers, and anyone who accompanies these groups who are not members of the family. Includes girls and boys recruited to be sexually exploited and / or contract marriage. The definition, therefore, not only refers to a boy or girl who carries, or has carried, weapons (based on the “Cape Town Principles”, 1997).

The use of child soldiers is without doubt the most extreme form of child exploitation. These children go through terrible experiences that leave them desensitized and traumatized; Many of them can not forget the abuses they suffered. In the case of child soldiers, frequent physical injuries are accompanied by sexual abuse and forced marriages, which cause very serious traumas and, when they survive, rejection by their community. The Special Representative of the General Secretariat of the UN, in its annual report of 2017, showed that approximately 40% of children affected by recruitment and use for military purposes are girls.

In situations of displacement, education constitutes an indispensable means of protection and future projection for these children.

The Jesuit Refugee Service works by accompanying, serving and defending the rights of refugee and forcibly displaced children. It promotes schooling programs that protect these minors from the violence of the environment and allow them to have everything they need to be able to learn, restoring illusion and lost childhood. JRS offers collaboration with three specific initiatives:

Central African Republic

Central African Republic is currently plunged into a humanitarian, political and economic crisis since 2012. This situation has led to massive displacements both outside and inside the country: today there are 418,638 people. JRS works in the south and center of the country, specifically in Bangui and Bambari, assisting children to recover a normal life, so that they return to where they should be: the school. Thus, awareness-raising, psychosocial support and general training sessions are held, including actions for peace and reconciliation. In the case of girls, special attention is offered to facilitate their reintegration at the psychosocial and formative levels.

South Sudan

After the independence of South Sudan in 2011, more than 130,000 refugees arrived in Maban fleeing the Blue Nile in Sudan. Little did they imagine that in December 2013 the youngest country in the world was disintegrating into a fratricidal civil war. At that time, the refugees who had arrived in Maban barely two years before, found themselves caught between two wars. While the government of Kartum bombed their lands in the Blue Nile, the country that welcomed them lived episodes of unprecedented ethnic hatred. The children of this area live with the continuous threat of being recruited as minor soldiers. That is why JRS works in the Arrupe Learning Center, a residential school of Teacher Training so that they can improve their performance as educators and help prevent the use of minors in armed conflict, offering them on the contrary a higher quality in education and a space of protection in the schools of the refugee camp.