Ban Ki-moon's speeches

Launch of Global Monitoring Report on Education for All

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 19 January 2010

Madam Director-General, Honourable Minister, Distinguished guests, and a special welcome to all the students present here today,

It gives me great pleasure to join you for the launch of this report on Education for All.

Education is a fundamental human right, enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration.

It should never be an accident of circumstance.

Nor is it a privilege to be distributed on the basis of wealth, gender, race, ethnicity or language.

Unfortunately, like other fundamental human rights, it has not been fully implemented over the past sixty years.

We are still very far from Education for All in many parts of the world.

Just one statistic speaks volumes: less than fifty-five per cent of school-age children in developing countries attend secondary school.

The implications of this figure are clear – for the individuals, who fail to reach their full potential, and for their societies, which do not benefit from a skilled and educated workforce.

That is one reason why universal primary education is the second Millennium Development Goal.

This goal is now looking difficult to achieve. Difficult, but not impossible.

The report launched today documents encouraging progress on many fronts.

More children are getting into school, and staying in school, than ever before.

The gender gap in primary education is narrowing in many countries.

Some of the world's poorest countries have achieved remarkable advances.

Benin had one of the world's lowest enrolment rates in 1999, but may now be on track to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

However, the hard truth is that this progress is not fast enough.

Seventy-two million children are still out of school. If current trends continue, there will still be 50 million out of school by 2015.

Millions more drop out before completing primary education. And often, those in school are receiving a poor quality education.

We must change this picture

We must get the world on track to deliver on the promise of primary education for all by 2015.

The UNESCO report identifies priority actions in two key areas:

First, countries need to strengthen their efforts to reach those who are being left behind.

All too often, governments are delivering good quality education for some, while failing to provide for poor, socially marginalized children.

We must overcome this disparity.

Second, we need a scaled-up and more effective aid effort.

Today's report estimates that we need 16 billion dollars in aid annually to achieve basic education goals.

This sum may seem large.

But aid for education produces great returns for poverty reduction, economic growth, child survival and democracy.

I urge donors, despite the financial pressures they may face, to step up their efforts.

Some countries may have made pledges that they are now finding it difficult to keep, because their budgets are under pressure as a result of the financial crisis.

But this crisis was generated entirely in the financial markets of the developed world.

It cannot be right that money earmarked for aid to the world's poorest people should be reduced as a result of it.

I call on all countries to meet their longstanding international aid commitments.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I commend everyone involved in making this report possible.

Reliable statistics and analysis are vital tools in our campaign for the right to an education.

I hope donors and developing countries alike will act on the report's messages.

For my part, I will be pressing throughout the year for more concerted action on education and on all the MDGs.

The September MDG Summit here at UN Headquarters is a real opportunity to advance this entire agenda.

Let us all work together with great urgency to meet the target we set ourselves

for 2015.

Thank you.