Raising education to top of development agenda

Iraqi School children celebrate world water day (UN photo/Bikerm Ekberzade)

“Despite all promises made to the world’s children – the pledges made and targets set by the international community – today nearly 70 million children are denied a place in school. With current trends the number of children out of school four years from now, will not have gone down, but up to 75 million,” said Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister of the UK, in his opening statement at ECOSOC’s High-level Segment.

Mr. Brown stressed that there can’t be more promises broken to children: “We’ve developed some of the talent of some of the children for some countries, now we need to develop all of the talent of all children of all countries”.

The High-Level Segment concluded its deliberation today on how to make education accessible to all and how to accelerate progress in achieving this goal. The Ministerial Declaration was adopted, highlighting not only the increasing consensus about the importance of education, but also outlining specific measures to move forward attaining these goals.

Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General of DESA noted the following in his concluding remarks: “The Declaration is a model document in other ways, too. It navigates the considerable education challenges of the moment, while casting a thoughtful eye to emerging issues on the horizon — areas like secondary and tertiary education, information technology and lifelong learning”.

The voluntary presentations by ten countries highlighted the importance of national commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goal on education and they also enriched the discussions by showcasing national progress and the significance of inclusiveness and quality in education by ensuring national policies.

The event also underscored the importance of areas including education access, quality, equality, funding and partnership. It was agreed by all member states the need to stay on track to meet internationally agreed educational goals, highlighting the link between education and other international goals including the MDG’s.

Principals of ‘ECESA Plus’ gathered alongside the ECOSOC High-level segment to prepare the UN system for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. They concurred that one major issue requiring their attention was the adequate balance and level of integration between the three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic and social development and environmental sustainability.

The social pillar, including job creation and decent work and social inclusion, needed more emphasis. They also identified several key sectors to be addressed in the outcome document as critical towards progress including energy, sustainable management of water resources and the sustainable use of oceans, agriculture and food security and international trade.

The ECESA Plus mechanism includes over 40 organizations and was established to bring relevant UN agencies, the World Bank, IMF and the Rio Convention secretariats together with the Members of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (ECESA) to prepare for Rio+20.

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