Following the Millennium Development Goals

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1 The new global education agenda: Education 2030 Developing the new education agenda: an inclusive, comprehensive and country-owned process Matthias Eck Jordan Naidoo Margarete Sachs-Israel Following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit in 2010 and the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, the United Nations launched a complex and multi-layered Member State-led process with broad participation from major groups and other civil society stakeholders to shape the post-2015 development agenda. Much had been achieved through the Education for All movement and significant progress made towards the MDGs since However, the Education for All (EFA) Goals were not reached by the 2015 deadline and therefore continued action is needed to complete the unfinished agenda. One of lessons learnt was that the narrow education agenda of the MDGs had diverted attention from important EFA goals. Against this background the Global Education Community had to find a common voice on how best to chart the way forward for a single new global education agenda that attends to the unfinished business of the EFA goals and education-related MDGs while addressing current and new education challenges. To this end, UNESCO, as the global coordinating agency of the EFA movement, in collaboration with EFA partners led the development of the post-2015 education agenda Education 2030 by facilitating and coordinating consultations of Member States, civil society and other key stakeholders. This included two series of global regional conferences, the Global Thematic Consultation on Education co-led by UNESCO and UNICEF, the Global Education for All (EFA) Meeting 2014 in Muscat, Oman, resulting in the Muscat Agreement and finally the World Education Forum 2015 (WEF 2015) in Incheon, Republic of Korea, which adopted the Incheon Declaration. The Declaration represents the firm commitment of countries and the global education community to a single, renewed education agenda. Calling for bold and urgent action to transform lives through a new vision for education, the Declaration entrusts UNESCO to continue its mandated role to lead and coordinate the Education 2030 agenda. These efforts successfully informed the work of the Open Working Group on SDGs and intergovernmental 33

2 negotiations on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, resulting into a strong goal on education, SDG 4 ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all with seven targets and three means of implementation. SDG 4 encapsulates Education Education 2030 in brief Education 2030 is comprehensive, holistic, ambitious, aspirational and universal, and is inspired by a vision of education that transforms the lives of individuals, communities and societies, leaving no one behind. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises education as central and essential for achieving the other SDGs. While it highlights education as a standalone goal, it further includes targets on education under several other SDGs, including those on health; growth and employment; sustainable consumption and production; and climate change. As education has the potential to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, it should be part of the strategies to achieve each of the 17 goals. 34

3 The key features of Education 2030 are access, equity and inclusion, gender equality, quality of education and lifelong-learning. Addressing the unfinished business of the educationrelated MDGs and EFA goals, Education 2030 still focuses on access. It aims at ensuring all children and youth access to and completion of at least 12 years of free, publicly funded, inclusive and equitable quality primary and secondary educa tion, of which at least nine years are compulsory. Moreover, it aims at ensuring access to quality education for out-of-school children and youth. The provision of at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education of good quality is also encouraged. Disparity in and exclusion from education persists. Therefore, Education 2030 aims at ensuring equity and inclusion in and through education, addressing all forms of exclusion and marginalisation, disparity, vulnerability and inequality in education access, participation, retention and completion and in learning outcomes. Gender equality features very highly on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is another key feature of Education It pays particular attention to gender-based discrimination. One of the lessons learned from the MDG and EFA experience is that focusing solely on access can neglect paying attention to the quality of education. Education must be of good quality to lead to relevant, equitable and effective learning outcomes at all levels and in all settings. Teachers are instrumental in this respect. They must be well-qualified, trained, adequately remunerated and motivated using appropriate pedagogical approaches. The focus on quality is also highlighted with the target on teachers under SDG4. Last but not least, Education 2030 is guided by the concept of lifelong learning. It aims at providing broad and flexible lifelong learning opportunities in order to complement and supplement formal schooling. Global Citizenship Education and Education 2030 Apart from the teachers target, the premium on quality is also reflected in target 4.7 under SDG 4, which includes Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Global Citizenship Education (GCED). Education which supports building sustainable and peaceful societies is essential in the world of today which faces social, economic and environmental, but also increasingly political challenges. For this, the content of education is of utmost importance. It must be relevant, focusing both on cognitive and non-cognitive facets of learning. The knowledge, skills, values and attitudes required by all people to lead fulfilled lives, make informed decisions and become responsible citizens as well as active agents of change locally and globally can be acquired through ESD and GCED, which include human rights education, intercultural education and education for international understanding. There are several indicative strategies to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development through GCED. These strategies include the development of policies 35

4 and programmes to promote GCED and bring them into the mainstream of formal, non-formal and informal education through system-wide interventions, teacher training, curricular reform and pedagogical support. This includes addressing themes such as human rights, gender equality, health, climate change, comprehensive sexuality education, sustainable livelihoods, and responsible and engaged citizenship. All learners need to be provided, throughout life, with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that are needed to build peaceful, healthy and sustainable societies. Good practices on GCED have to be developed and disseminated to improve the implementation of education programmes. Participatory programmes for both learners and teachers on GCED could be promoted to engage in their communities and society. The Education 2030 Framework for Action In the lead up to WEF 2015 and after, UNESCO together with Member States and partners undertook work on the Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA). The FFA expresses the strong determination of the education community to make the vision of Education 2030 a reality through bold joint action. It provides guidance for implementing Education 2030 at the country, regional and global level. It was adopted at the end of 2015 by 184 Member States and the Global Education Community. The FFA is guided by three main principles: First of all, education is a fundamental human right and an enabling right. To fulfil this right, countries must ensure universal equal access to inclusive and equitable quality education and learning, which should be free and compulsory, leaving no one behind. Education shall aim at the full development of the human personality and promote mutual understanding, tolerance, friendship and peace. Secondly, education is a public good, of which the state is the duty bearer. Education is a shared societal endeavour, which implies an inclusive process of public policy formulation and implementation. Civil society, teachers and educators, the private sector, communities, families, youth and children all have important roles in realising the right to quality education. The role of the state is essential in setting and regulating standards and norms. Thirdly, gender equality is inextricably linked to the right to education for all. Achieving gender equality requires a rights-based approach that ensures that girls and boys, women and men, not only gain access to and complete education cycles, but are empowered equally in and through education. The FFA proposes a set of strategic approaches addressing the key features of Education It also provides strategic approaches on policies, plans, legislations and systems as well as education in emergency situations, highlighting the importance of continuing to provide education in the case of crisis and emergency. The FFA provides a rationale and builds a common understanding for each of the seven targets and three means of implementation under SDG 4 and also ad- 36

5 dresses gaps in the targets. It provides a set of indicative strategies for implementing each of them. The FFA also spells out implementation modalities, including governance, accountability, partnerships, effective coordination, monitoring, follow-up and review and puts forward strong recommendations on financing. In 2000, the Global Education Community adopted the Dakar Framework for Action in support of the implementation of the six EFA goals. Now, 15 years later our ambition, as expressed in the Incheon Declaration and in SDG 4, is even bigger. The Dakar Framework for Action included regional frameworks for action and asked countries to develop comprehensive national EFA plans. The FFA, on the other hand, foresees that efforts at the regional and sub-regional level should build on and be in line with regional strategies and frameworks. Governments are expected to translate global targets into achievable national targets based on their education priorities, national development strategies and plans, the ways their education systems are organised, their institutional capacity and the availability of resources. This will require establishing appropriate intermediate benchmarks (e.g. for 2020 and 2025) through an inclusive process, with full transparency and accountability, engaging all partners so there is country ownership and common understanding. What does it take to achieve Education 2030? The implementation of a rightly highly ambitious education agenda will be a real challenge. It will require going far beyond business as usual. Some preliminary remarks on what this may entail should be made here. The heart of Education 2030 lies at the country level and governments have the primary responsibility for successful implementation, follow-up and review. Country-led action will drive change, supported by effective multi-stakeholder partnerships and financing. Broad ownership at the country-level has to be ensured in the first place. This requires building a common understanding among all stakeholders on the vision of Education 2030 from the country perspective. Experience over the past 15 years has shown that it is more productive to develop a strategy for integrating Education 2030 priorities in existing or new education sector plans, rather than setting up a separate Education 2030 Action Plan. The promotion of education policies need to be linked to the objectives of sustainable development and poverty eradication and create policy coherence. Given the interrelated challenges of today, education should be an integral part of National Sustainable Development Strategies and the connected funding strategies. Explicit linkages between education and the other 16 SDGs should be made. To ensure effective national coordination, existing national coordination mechanisms for education need to be strengthened to deliver on SDG 4. At the same time this coordination mechanism needs to be linked to the overall SDG coordination mechanism. The national coordination mechanism needs to go beyond the Ministries of Education to include other Sectoral Ministries 37

6 and in particular the Ministry of Finance to secure inter-governmental cooperation, adequate funding and high-level political support. Any such coordination mechanism needs to ensure the participation of all relevant stakeholders and reflect the reality of education delivery in the country. The success of Education 2030 depends on collective effort. Countries need to make the most of partnerships and go beyond a traditional understanding of the contribution of other stakeholders. Civil Society Organisations, for example, can play an important role in implementation. Ideally partnership arrangements would be institutionalized. Strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms have to be put in place. Follow-up and review processes based on robust monitoring, reporting and evaluation policies, systems and tools are essential for the achievement of Education Follow-up and review arrangements should build on existing platforms and processes as much as possible in order to not overburden national administration. These mechanisms will have to be rigorous and evidence-based, informed by data which is timely, reliable and disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts. Monitoring, follow-up and review should support countries in making informed policy choices and mobilising resources. The full realisation of Education 2030 requires significantly increased, sustained, innovative and welltargeted financing and efficient implementation arrangements. The Incheon Declaration has urged countries to adhere to the international benchmarks of allocating at least 4% to 6% of gross domestic product (GDP) to education and/or allocating at least 15% to 20% of public expenditure to education. Domestic financing must prioritise those most in need. Improved governance and accountability can increase efficiency and effective use of existing resources. The annual financing gap between the domestic resources available and the financing needs to reach the Education 2030 targets is projected to average USD39 billion between 2015 and 2030 in low and lower middle income countries. Therefore the trend of decline in aid to education needs to be reversed. Further aid effectiveness has to be improved through harmonisation and better coordination. The equity of external financing shall be improved, better targeting neglected sub-sectors, low income countries and vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in middle income countries. South-south and triangular cooperation should be strengthened and existing multi-stakeholder partnerships be scaled up. Last but not least urgent efforts to increase the amount of aid to education in conflict and crisis have to be made. All potential resources for financing education need to be unlocked and innovation in financing is critical. This includes, focusing investments on equity, inclusion and quality in education, creating synergies with funding from the private sector, challenge and expose the misuse of resources and institute transparent monitoring and reporting on financing. 38

7 References UN Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals. UN. UN. leading-the-international-agenda/education-for-all/efagoals/ UN. transformingourworld UNESCO Education 2030 Framework for Action. UNESCO Incheon Declaration. UNESCO Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by EFA GMR Policy Paper 18. UNESCO GEM Final Statement. The Muscat Agreement. images/0022/002281/228122e.pdf UNESCO Outcome document of the Technical Consultation on Global Citizenship Education: Global Citizenship Education An Emerging Perspective. UNESCO Dakar Framework for Action. UNESCO AND UNICEF Making Education a Priority in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. 39

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