Global Action Week for Education in 2017 has placed its focus on ensuring accountability for SDG4, and active citizen participation. In 2015, citizens campaigned successfully for governments to commit to a Sustainable Development Goal which ensured that everyone has the right to quality education – education which should be public, equitable, inclusive and free. Two years later, it is time for governments to prove they are working towards this goal – it is time to deliver.
While there are challenges to the realisation of this right, from long-term conflict to national elections and policy changes, commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, and to the Education 2030 agenda are long term and cannot be ignored.
At the same time, citizens must be given a voice in any decision-making process which impacts on their lives. Yet in too many countries the voice of citizens is being stifled; across all regions of the world, certain national governments have taken more aggressive action to limit civil society activity, from restrictions on funding, ‘political activity’ or protest, to direct criminalisation of civil society activity.
Education underpins many of the SDGs, and it is fundamental to the realisation of other rights. Governments must deliver on this goal, and citizens must be able to play their part in holding them to account for it. The cost of not delivering education is too high to bear.
Around the World: A Snapshot of Activity from GCE Members
Throughout the world, Global Campaign for Education members carried out different activities in Global Action Week: this is a brief summary of some of them.
In Afghanistan, the Global Education Campaign’s Afghan coalition organized its “Education for All” campaign for Global Action Week for Education 2017. It took place between 6-11 May for security reasons. Around 60 organizations showed interest in being part of this campaign. On Sunday 29 April, the Afghan government held a conference on SDGs.
In India there were activities aimed at public mobilization and social commitment. India is struggling to make a number of changes at a national level in educational policy, including the abolition of child labor and increased aid to children in the most marginalized areas.
In Bolivia, the Global Action Week for Education included the presentation of the results of a study on the state of public education in the country, with emphasis on funding; A discussion on SDG4 and its implementation in Bolivia and meetings with education authorities to present studies on the Bolivian situation of education.
The Dominican Republic supported the global call with the motto “We defend quality, inclusive, equitable and participative education” through various mobilization actions with the objective of sensitizing Dominican society about ODS, specifically in education. The activities included an Implementation Workshop and the publication of the Social Guide on Education Policies, a seminar on Progress and Challenges in the implementation of the Education Agenda 2030, a newsletter dedicated to ODS and several round tables, debates and Reflections on different aspects of the education agenda.
In Burkina Faso, the National Coalition of Education for All created a new document reviewing the financing of national education, citizen participation and the empowerment of civil society in the development, implementation and monitoring of education policies. Meetings were held with ministers responsible for education, the Minister of Economy, the President of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister. In terms of public events and activities, several political leaders “returned to school” in their local areas. A national civil society forum for education was organized, and the coalition has also created a documentary on the theme of the Global Action Week for Education 2017.
In Gambia, in addition to striving for transparency and accountability mechanisms, specifically to involve women, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups, the Education for All Network included funding demands in its Global Action Week for Education.
In Albania, on 23 April, the Albanian coalition for Early Childhood Education launched Global Action Week at the Center for Openness and Dialogue in Tirana. It also circulated a manifesto for education, “We Stand Up for Education,” identifying priorities in local and national education that were sent to political parties. An open forum was held in Kruja Major, north central Albania, under the title “Increasing the funding of education at a local level”. There were other open forums on “Education 2030” in 8 regions of the country. A public consultation was organized with the participation of social organizations and the education minister on “Education budget, challenges and priorities”, and a public resolution that was sent to the media enhancing the government’s commitment to the SDG4.
In Spain, the Global Action Week focused on the issue of responsibility from the perspective of citizen participation. An event was held with Parliament to generate visibility. The campaign was developed under the slogan “A word for education”.
These are just some of the examples. Cape Verde focused its activities on inclusive education, through seminars and street theater performances, while Brazil emphasized more on the Sustainable Development Goals, as Cameroon did . Countries like Nigeria opted for a protest over the education situation before the National Assembly.