UN deputy chief calls for making 2024 ‘turning point’ for education

UN deputy chief calls for making 2024 ‘turning point’ for education

UNITED NATIONS (APP): United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has called for a transformation in education as she addressed a high-level education event organized by the European Union during a visit to Brussels on Thursday.

With education in crisis around the world leaving many children behind, there needs to be a commitment to “bring them back into the fold,” the Deputy Chief stressed at the EU’s Global Gateway High-Level Event on Education.

She paid in particular tribute to the children of Gaza, where because of the Israel attacks children have had no education for over six months, and where there have been direct hits on 212 schools.

“Today, the light for Gaza and the children of Gaza is out. We need a commitment to try to light that candle again for the children and the people of Gaza. Education is hope. Education is the future.”

The coming year will see a series of meetings that will build on the UN’s Transforming Education Summit convened in September 2022 in New York in response to a global crisis in education, after more than 90 % of the world’s children had their education interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 22-23 September 2024, world leaders will gather to forge a new international consensus to deliver a better present and safeguard the future as part of the UN’s Summit of the Future.

The Deputy Secretary-General called for two specific outcomes on education at the summit: “First, we need a clear recognition from world leaders of the urgent need to transform and invest in education as a global imperative. Second, we need major breakthroughs on issues that are critical for education, including reform of the international financial architecture, strengthened digital cooperation and a new agenda for peace.”

Without additional measures, an estimated 84 million children and young people will stay out of school by 2030 and approximately 300 million students will lack the basic numeracy and literacy skills necessary for success in life.

“Education is a fundamental human right. Investing in education is the greatest investment we can make in our common future, in peace, and sustainable development, and particularly in gender equality,” Ms. Mohammed urged delegates at the Brussels event.

Contemporary education systems across the world are beset by challenges, including “of access and equity, of relevance and quality, and of ensuring that the digital era does not result in leaving billions of people behind,” she added. She also called for a breaking away from “orthodoxies on education and its financing”.

“I know that we can make 2024 a turning point for education. Let’s get to it.”

The high-level education event in Brussels focused on the EU’s role in transforming global education and bridging skills gaps.

The EU has committed at least 10% of its international partnerships budget (over €6 billion) to education. It has also outlined that it will prioritise education and research under its Global Gateway Strategy, the bloc’s strategy to invest in infrastructure projects worldwide.

“We can only achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we invest in education and skills building,” said European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen at the event.

During her visit to Brussels, the Deputy Secretary-General also chaired the Governing Body meeting of the Spotlight Initiative, the world’s largest targeted effort to eliminate violence against women and girls.

The UN initiative is in partnership with the EU and other stakeholders and responds to all forms of violence against women and girls. Its programmes across 30 countries and regions have a particular focus on domestic and family violence, sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices, femicide, trafficking in human beings and sexual and economic exploitation.

Since 2019, the initiative has resulted in more than 2.5 million women and girls accessing gender-based violence services, and two million men and boys have been educated on positive masculinity.

Ms. Mohammed thanked the EU for its “historic” contribution of 500 million Euros, and raised concerns about the vulnerability of women and girls in a context of heightened conflict, crises and disasters.

With current resources, the Spotlight Initiative is on track to prevent 21 million women and girls from experiencing violence by 2025, she said. With additional investments, it is estimated it could prevent violence in over 70 million women’s lives across 60 countries, and reduce prevalence in target communities from one in three to one in five women and girls within a decade.