‘This is a prime opportunity for us to exercise the collective advocacy role for which the Commonwealth is so well equipped’ – Secretary-General
Commonwealth education ministers yesterday (Thursday) agreed on a set of core recommendations for a framework to succeed the Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals in education.
They include a proposal for targets and deadlines that consider the realities of different countries and a call for a ‘final push’ to achieve the current goals before the 2015 target date.
A 13-member ministerial working group was established at the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Mauritius in August to contribute to discussions taking place at the United Nations and UNESCO on new education targets.
Members of the working group were: Bangladesh, Barbados, Cyprus, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.
Ministers and representatives today handed over the proposals to the office of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who co-chairs the United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Addressing the meeting, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the Commonwealth, which encompasses a third of the world’s population, is uniquely placed to contribute to the process.
“The current Internationally Agreed Goals, known as the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals, were agreed through a top-down process which presented a number of implementation and achievement challenges at national levels.
“In preparing for the successors to those goals, the UN has embarked on a consultative and participatory process. There is worldwide consultation in almost every country, at multiple levels and in regional forums.
“This is a prime opportunity for us to exercise, on behalf of our member countries and our citizens, the collective advocacy role for which the Commonwealth is so well equipped, and that it is so well placed to deliver.”
The two-day meeting at Marlborough House in London was also addressed by Professor Keith Lewin, Director of the Centre for Education Access, Transitions and Equity at the University of Sussex.
In his presentation, he stressed the importance for the Commonwealth and individual ministers to “keep pressing the point that educational investment is central to development".
Those who say the problem is solved are wrong, he said. “Three hundred million children below the age of 15 are either out of school or not learning and about 30 million are truly out of school (physically) in the Commonwealth.”
Stressing the significance of developing a framework to succeed the Millennium Development Goals, he added it is important to keep the focus on achievable targets by 2025.