New York

11 May 2018

Secretary-General's remarks on receipt of petition for a new International Finance Facility for Education

I want to thank you very much, my old friend Gordon Brown and thank the distinguished representatives of the world’s youth for your initiative.

I have to say, when I was in Government, and I believe we have the same experience, education was the passion of my Government. And I believe education should be the passion of any government in the world. But it should also be the passion of the international community.
 
We need to recognize that a lot of progress has been made, but we are still very far from being happy with the results. I think 264 million children are out of school today and there are many children in schools without the level of poverty that is desirable.  So, there is a huge investment that is needed. But what always puzzled me it is the fact that I have not seen enough priority today given to education in the humanitarian work, where I lived for ten years, as the High Commissioner for Refugees and in development cooperation. I remember that in emergencies there is this mentality of “move the trucks, pitch the tents, find the water, distribute the food, find the vaccines”, but the question of putting the schools to work, finding teachers comes later. The amount of funding, humanitarian funding dedicated to education was, and I believe it still is extremely reduced.
 
On the other end, in development cooperation it is clear we are far from reaching the needed amount of funding to support especially those countries that have more difficulties or to address a situation where we have conflicts or emergencies where the governments are not even able to provide the immediate capacity. I have to recognize that we need to make sure that we have a very strong advocacy for decisionmakers all over the world to fully understand this priority. And I know - we have been working together on this-  it’s important to start early, to give priority not to those that are already relatively well, but to those that are marginalized and to care for the quality of education, not enough to have education, but quality is essential.
 
If we look at the future, 1 billion young people will enter the labour market in the next decade. They will do work that is not necessarily always similar to the work that we do today, technology is changing and again, education has to be able to address the needs of today, but education needs to prepare us for the future, and future is changing very rapidly, so the investment in education is absolutely crucial.
 
Now, the international finance facility comes to fill the gap. A gap that exists, it is of course something that we’ll be adding to efforts in different other initiatives, it is not something to replace anything or is not competing [with other initiatives], on the contrary it is part of a number of initiatives, but it tries to fill a gap and my strong appeal is for the international community to fully bet in this new instrument.
 
I know the World Bank and the regional development banks are involved, I think that all the international community should be involved and I am very grateful for this testimony because it proves that is not just an idea of some of us that have been around and think about these things, but that this really comes from the will of the people, the young people that want to have the chance to build a future for themselves, for the international community knowing that education is the basis for not only development, but for peace and it is a fantastic instrument for us to be able to face all the challenges that we are facing today. Thank you very much for this initiative of yours, we will do our best to make sure – and Gordon Brown will be the first line of the international financing facility – will indeed become a very important instrument in our common struggle for education for all, and education of quality for all, making the impossible, possible.
 
Thank you very much.
 
Questions and Answers:
 
Q: I have a question for you: I am a feminist, and recently you have declared that you are a feminist. So what is the message that you want to send to young people to stand for girls’ education?
 
SG: The gap is huge, but the gap is especially about girls and many, many girls are deprived from their education. It is not only that, it is early marriage, it is different forms of inequalities and sometimes oppression that undermine their chances for the rest of their lives, so education for girls is not only a question of giving them adequate preparation for the future, it is a question of protecting them in a relation to a number of practices that are still discriminatory, and that will undermine their chances for the future. This is for us an absolute priority. It’s a question of power in societies. That is why here in the UN we are now fighting hard for parity. We have already parity in the Senior Management Group, and yesterday, with the appointments I made – some still need confirmation by Governments – we reached parity in our Resident Coordinators around the world. This means the heads of the UN country teams around the world are [now] 50.4% women and 49.6% men.  This is something that is a big achievement and it is proof that we are clearly pushing for a world in which power relationships are such that girls have the same opportunities as boys.
 
Q: Mr. Secretary-General, can I ask you about your important trip to Washington next week. What will be your message to President Trump about the JCPOA? Will you ask him….
 
SG: My message today is about Education for All, and if I now start talking about other things, it is obvious that everybody will forget education, and everybody will start discussing what I am going to discuss with the President of the United States. So here it is Education for All and Education Equality for all, and I will also convey that message to all governments, including the U.S. Government.