Heads of State and Government presented their National Statements of Commitment during Leaders Day at the Transforming Education Summit in New Yor (16, 17 and 19 September 2022). The events took the form of Leaders Roundtables. Additionally, a small number of themed workshops were organized to highlight the imperatives that cut across all areas of education reform. The Summit Youth Declaration and the Secretary-Vision General’s Statement for Transforming Education were also presented on Leaders Day.
The crucial subject of creative finance for education was brought up by Secretary-General António Guterres and Gordon Brown, who serves as his Special Envoy for Global Education.
He emphasized that the “world is witnessing several crises,” and that individuals, businesses, and governments around the globe are all struggling financially.
In addition, two-thirds of countries have reduced their education budgets since the COVID-19 pandemic started but he emphasized that education is the cornerstone of societies that are stable, rich, and peaceful.
“Reducing investment practically ensures worse problems in the future. We need to get more, not less, money into education systems,” declared the top UN official.
He made the case that while wealthier countries can get funds from domestic sources, the cost-of-living challenge is affecting many poor countries.
He went on to highlight the International Finance Facility for Education’s importance in securing funding for lower-middle-income nations, which are home to 700 million children who are not in school, as well as the vast majority of the world’s displaced and refugee children. According to the UN chief, the Facility is a tool to expand the resources available to multilateral banks to provide affordable education financing rather than a brand-new fund.
“We anticipate it to eventually develop into a $10 billion centre to educate the young people of tomorrow”, he said.
The Global Partnership for Education and other tools that offer grants and other forms of help will complement and cooperate with it.
Dignitaries at the summit. Photo: UNESCO
Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed opened Day 2 of the Summit, dubbed “Solutions Day,” and summarized the significance of curriculum reform, equity and inclusiveness, and educational innovation.
We do, however, require more and better financing, she added. Since we can’t do this with simply fresh air, we need fuel.
Scaling up programs should be done with “a sense of urgency,” she said, and she described education as “a large ecosystem” that supports many other admirable goals.
We already know what to do, so stop running any more pilot projects, she said.
Girls study together at school in Senegal. Photo: UNICEF/Vincent Tremeau
The Spotlight Session on day three specifically aimed to mobilise strong political commitment and partnership for action at the highest level to transform education to fully realize its potential for transforming society towards a just, peaceful, healthy, and sustainable world. This was done in part by strengthening a focus on two interconnected areas:
- Tackling climate and environmental crisis
- Fostering ethical and socially responsible global citizens.
The two areas of activity are closely related and complement one another. In addition, greening education would include learning and engagement on issues like climate justice, human rights to healthy environments, gendered impacts of climate change, climate denial and misinformation, and climate-induced conflict, which are closely related to global citizenship education. Empowered, equal citizens contribute to global efforts to promote social justice and tackle gender inequality and other sustainability challenges. This high-level discussion will generate crucial momentum for changing the quality and relevance of education in today’s society given the urgency of global environmental concerns.
The worldwide crisis in education—one of fairness and inclusion, quality, and relevance—has prompted the convening of the Transforming Education Summit. The futures of children and teenagers around the world are being severely harmed by this crisis, which is frequently gradual and unnoticed. The Summit offers a special chance to put education at the top of the international political agenda, mobilize action, ambition, solidarity, and solutions to make up for learning losses caused by the epidemic, and plant the seeds for altering education in a world that is changing quickly.
Often slow and unseen, this crisis is devastatingly impacting the futures of children and youth worldwide with progress towards the education-related Sustainable Development Goals badly off track. If unaddressed, its negative impacts on our collective pursuit of peace, justice, human rights and sustainable development will be felt for decades to come.
The primary expected outcomes of the Summit are:
1) National and international commitments to transform education;
2) greater public engagement around and support for transforming education; and
3) A Vision Statement on Transforming Education from the Secretary-General.
As part of the preparations for the envisioned UN Summit of the Future, the Secretary-Vision General’s Statement will be formally submitted as a contribution to intergovernmental discussions on the future of education. To ensure efficient follow-up at all levels, it will also inform the work of the SDG4-Education 2030 High-Level Steering Committee.