Stocktake Event: Assessing the Progress of Education Transformation

OV Digital Desk

Following is UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s message on the occasion of the Transforming Education Summit stocktake event, in Paris today:

As we just heard, the 2022 Transforming Education Summit put the crisis in education at the top of the global agenda.  Yet almost two years later, despite the formidable efforts of many in this room, we are not where we need to be.

High-quality, relevant education remains out of reach for hundreds of millions of people, especially women and girls, vulnerable children, those on the margins of our societies and those whose lives have been upended by conflict and humanitarian crises.

And I reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the unconditional release of all hostages.  The children of Gaza must not be made to suffer anymore.

At a moment of unprecedented wealth and resources, the lack of progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 is deeply unjust. And it is deeply frustrating.  But that is not a reason to give up.  On the contrary, it is a reason to double down. To innovate.  To leapfrog.  And to embark, together, on an urgent effort to accelerate progress between now and 2030.

As you begin your deliberations today, allow me to highlight two key areas for your attention:  creating learning and knowledge societies and mobilizing the necessary means of implementation.

In a world of rising polarization, artificial intelligence, new technologies, and urgent green and digital transitions, societies are transforming and a new approach to education must move centre stage.  We must push ourselves to go much further, much deeper, in reimagining the delivery of education and lifelong learning.

Now is the time to rethink the systems and structures that determine who has access to education and when.  Now is the time to steer the deployment of new technologies and digital connectivity to enhance the experience of education.  And now is the time to ensure teachers have the conditions and support they need to become knowledge producers, facilitators and guides in the comprehension of complex realities, in line with the recommendations of the high-Level panel on the teaching profession.

This is the essence of the Secretary-General’s call to world leaders, as they approach the Summit of the Future this September and the World Social Summit next year.  It is a call to create true learning societies.  And I urge all countries to get behind it now and into the future.

None of this will be possible without a dramatic increase in investment in education — and I stress that this is an investment not just an expenditure.  That starts by changing the international financial system to ensure developing countries have much greater access to low-cost, long-term financing for major SDG transitions.  This is the only way that Governments can sustainably grow the revenues needed for social investments like education.

In tandem, we need to see an expansion of domestic tax bases; greater prioritization of education within national budgets; and better public financial systems.  But developing countries cannot do this alone.

The international system and international partners must step up. Meeting their official development assistance (ODA) commitments.  Increasing direct budget support.  Overhauling international tax cooperation.  Ensuring countries have access to finance.  And shifting International Monetary Fund (IMF) practices to ensure developing countries can invest more in education, even in times of debt distress, often not through fault of their own.

These issues will be at the heart of the Summit of the Future in September, upcoming meetings of the G20 and the international financial institutions, and the fourth International Conference on Financing for Development next year.

I urge the education sector to come together to back ambitious changes in this area.

Education is the glue that can hold our societies together as we navigate unprecedented challenges and transformations.  It must be valued, prioritized and transformed accordingly.

With our meetings in Paris, New York and Fortaleza this year, we have the chance to keep the fire of education transformation burning ever more brightly.

The UN system at the country level will remain your partner on this journey to deliver the SDGs. So let us continue to work together. And let us continue to transform education — and our world for today and for future generations.

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