On Saturday 26th of September education activists and world leaders gathered at the UN in celebration of education’s inclusion as one of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals.
The Agenda, which aims to fight inequality, tackle climate change and end extreme poverty within the next 15 years, now also hopes to achieve quality education for all, despite there being 59 million children still out of school worldwide.
“The world has just adopted a new global vision,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “Leaders pledged to finish the job started with the Millennium Development Goals, and they recognised that education is essential to building a better world.”
“The Initiative has widened the lens away from access to the quality of education, to lifelong learning, to skills, to teaching and content, to education for sustainable development, and to global citizenship education,” said Irina Bokova, Director General of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), while Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, focused the spotlight on refugee children:
“There are 30 million displaced children around the world today; 10 million of them are refugees exiled from their countries. Most of them are not receiving a school education. Many of them, unless we act, will never go through a classroom door for all their school-age years, and we must give them hope.
“So putting education first means, as we have said today, that every single child has the right to education,” he added. “Putting education first means that we must break through this barrier which denies millions of young people the chance of education in refugee contexts today. And putting education first means that we must… find the finance so that the words of politicians, who say they want to do something about education, are turned into reality with the investments we need so that every single child has a decent education.”
Other speakers at the event included Peng Liyuan, the First Lady of China and UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls’ and Womens’ Education, and campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
“These Goals are a blueprint for a better future,” concluded Ban Ki-moon. “Now we must use the goals to transform the world. We will do that through partnership and through commitment. We must leave no-one behind.”