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An e-discussion on Education: Closing the Gap was held from 1 February to 4 March, organized by the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Group’s MDG-Net forum.

Generating 106 contributions from experts, policymakers and practitioners from 29 countries, the e-discussion presented a unique oppportunity for the development community to discuss a series of questions pertaining to the achievement of education and learning for all, and to formulate concrete recommendations for consideration by the Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) 2011 Annual Ministerial Review.

  1. Report of the e-discussion on Education: Closing the Gap
  2. E-discussion Responses in full (Parts 1-3)
  3. Background note on Education
  4. Letter of Invitation from Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
  5. Launch Message from MDGNet Facilitation Team

The e-discussion addressed the following topics:

Quality in Education and Learning
Moderated by Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope, Director of the Division for Basic to Higher Education and Learning, UNESCO

  1. Given that the quality of teaching is critical to students’ learning, how can the training and working conditions of teachers be improved in contexts with resource constraints?
  2. Which interventions are most effective for retaining secondary-age students in school by preparing them with a foundation for lifelong learning and for labour market participation?

Access to Education
Moderated by Dr. Nicholas Alipui, Director of Programmes, UNICEF

  1. Early childhood care and education can mitigate social disadvantage and lead to improved learning achievement.  How can integrated approaches to education and child and maternal health be targeted more effectively to children from poor households?
  2. The benefits of educating women and girls have been widely documented.  What concrete steps can be taken to get girls into school and keep them there?

Innovation in Education
Moderated by Mr. Nicholas Burnett, Principal and Managing Director of Results for Development Institute (R4D)

  1. How can non-state actors (including civil society organisations, faith-based groups, private philanthropies and the private sector) best contribute to the achievement of education and learning for all?
  2. What innovations, including through the use of technology and through new financing arrangements, are needed to make education appropriate for the modern world?

An outcome document summarizes the ideas and action agenda produced by the e-discussion, and was presented at the Global Preparatory Meeting in New York, 28 April, and ECOSOC’s Substantive Session in Geneva (July 2011).