“I consider myself to be a lifelong learner… Where would I be without education? He questioned the crowd assembled in the famous Generally Assembly Hall, “Where would any of us be?”
We “must alter education” because it transforms people’s lives, economies, and societies.
The UN president noted that education is quickly turning into “a big divider” rather than “the great enabler,” noting that 70% of 10-year-olds in underdeveloped nations are illiterate and “barely learning.”
The wealthy can access the most significant resources, colleges, and employment. In contrast, the poor, particularly girls, individuals who have been relocated, and students with disabilities face substantial barriers to obtaining the education that could transform their life.
Sustainable Development Goal #4, which focuses on equitable access to high-quality education, has “dealt a hammer blow to progress on COVID-19,” according to the report.
The International Commission for the Future of Education report card, which unambiguously stated that “Education systems don’t make the grade,” was cited by Mr Guterres in his statement that “but the education issue began much before – and ran much deeper.”
Failure to pass
He insisted that “education is failing kids and societies,” citing rote learning, obsolete and constrictive curricula, and undertrained and underpaid teachers.
While the funding gap for education “yawns greater than ever,” disadvantaged pupils are penalised by the digital divide.
The UN chief emphasised that “now is the moment to change educational institutions.”
He emphasised the need for excellent learning to assist each learner’s lifelong growth in light of the emerging 21st-century education vision.
“It must assist people in learning how to learn, with an emphasis on teamwork and problem-solving… give the building blocks for learning, from reading, writing, and math to science, technology, social skills, and emotional intelligence… fostering students’ ability to adjust to a workplace that is continuously changing, and being accessible to everybody at all stages of life.
Mr Guterres emphasised the need for education systems that “distinguish reality from conspiracy, instil respect for science, and celebrate humanity in all its diversity” in an era of pervasive misinformation, climate denial, and attacks on human rights.
From idea to execution
He listed five commitment areas to help realise the goal, starting with ensuring everyone has access to high-quality education, especially ladies and those living in crisis-ridden regions.
He urged the Taliban in Afghanistan to “lift all limitations on girls’ access to secondary education immediately,” stressing the importance of schools being accessible to everyone without prejudice.
Next, Mr Guterres urged for a shift in emphasis on teachers’ duties and skill sets to facilitate and promote learning rather than transfer information, calling them “the lifeblood of education systems.”
He promoted making schools “safe, healthy settings, with no room for violence, stigma, or intimidation” as his third point.
He urged governments to collaborate with private sector partners to improve digital learning content to meet the fourth goal, which states that the digital revolution benefits all learners.
The UN chief introduced his absolute priority by saying, “None of this would be achievable without a rise in education financing and global solidarity.”
He advised nations to safeguard their education budgets and direct funds to educational resources.
“Financing for education must be the top priority for governments. The Secretary-General stated, “It is the essential investment any country can make in its people and future. “Providing great education for everyone should focus on spending and policy recommendations.”
He concluded that the Transforming Education Summit would only succeed in its global objectives if “a global movement” was mobilised.
So that everyone can learn, prosper, and dream throughout their lives, let’s move forward together. To build a more sustainable, inclusive, just, and peaceful society for everyone, let’s ensure that today’s students and future generations have access to the education they require.
Illness, economic growth, and war
The chief of UNICEF, Catherine Russell, brought attention to how war affects children’s education and urged governments to “scale up support to help every kid learn, wherever they are.”
The delegates heard from Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, on the catastrophic effects of HIV on young girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa last year, where 4,000 girls were infected per week.
It’s a crisis, she exclaimed. Because there is no cure for HIV when a girl is infected at that young age, it affects the rest of their life and possibilities.
She informed the gathering that 12 African nations had endorsed Education Plus, an ambitious plan to prevent HIV transmissions by providing accessible, universal, high-quality secondary education for all African boys and girls, strengthened by extensive empowerment initiatives.
Audrey Azoulay, director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), emphasised that Afghan girls must be free to return to school because “there can be no economic progress and no peace without education.” She insisted, “It is their right.” Watch her give her speech right here.
Malala Yousafzai, the UN Messenger of Peace, was among the other notable speakers. She urged world leaders to protect every child’s right to education and make schools safe for girls, saying, “if you are serious about creating a safe and sustainable future for children, then be serious about education.”
According to Somaya Faruqi, a former captain of the Afghan Females Robotics Team, every girl has the right to education. She claimed, “while our cousins and brothers sit in classes, many other girls and I are forced to put our aspirations on wait.” Every female should attend school.
Vanessa Nakate, a recently appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, emphasised the need to ensure that all children have access to education since “their future depends on it.”
Another highlight was a moving musical performance by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo, who urged everyone to speak out in favour of reforming education.
130 nations commit to reviving education
Later in the day, it was revealed that more than 130 nations at the summit had committed to reforming their educational systems and stepping up efforts to end the global learning crisis.
Promises were made after 115 nationwide consultations, where leaders, educators, students, members of civil society, and other partners came together to discuss the most pressing issues.
A third of the countries committed to supporting the psycho-social well-being of students and instructors, while nearly half of the countries prioritised steps to remediate learning loss. Seventy-five per cent of countries emphasised the significance of gender-sensitive education policy in their promises, and two out of three countries also included steps to offset education’s direct and indirect costs for economically deprived groups.
These declarations emphasised the importance of education in accomplishing all the SDGs and their connections to poverty, conflict, and climate change crises. The recovery of COVID-19 and getting back on track with the SDGs were addressed through measures focusing on the need for educational innovations to equip today’s learners for a fast-changing global environment.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network