New York

06 March 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at meeting on the 2015 World Education Forum [as prepared for delivery]

Thank you for coming to this Information Meeting on the World Education Forum, which will be held in Incheon, Republic of Korea, in May.

I thank the Republic of Korea for hosting this important event, which will advance our efforts to build a future in which every girl and every boy will have a place at school.

This Forum will take place at an important time for the United Nations as we prepare to adopt a new development agenda and launch a new set of Sustainable Development Goals.  We hope that the outcome of the Forum will be fully aligned with that effort so that there is a single education agenda that delivers for all.

Everywhere I travel I ask young people what the United Nations can do for them. The answers almost always mention education.

Young people want to see education for all:

Because education provides knowledge and understanding.

Education saves lives and builds peace.

Education protects human dignity and provides training for a future of work.

Education is an engine for the global economy and allows people to reach their potential.

I know this from my own experience.  As a young boy in war-torn Korea, my schooling took place outdoors, under a tree, without a classroom or school supplies. Our text books came from the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency.

I will never forget the opportunity afforded to me by this organization and by global solidarity, and I am determined to do more so that others have the same chance to learn and thrive.


This is why I launched the Global Education First Initiative in 2012, led today by 16 Champion Countries.

Across the world, too many girls and boys are not making it to school or are not finishing their education – especially girls, and especially boys and girls in conflict and humanitarian situations.

Young men and women are leaving secondary education without the right skills.

Too many adults, women particularly, remain illiterate in a world undergoing a digital revolution.

We need a more holistic, more comprehensive approach to learning for all, across life. Since 2000, there has been strong progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, and towards the Education for All objectives.

This year, the world will set bold new goals, ambitious new targets, to reach every girl and boy, every woman and man.

Together, we must ensure no one is left behind; that everyone gets to school, receives the right learning and develops new skills for global citizenship.

Moreover, in an era of rising intolerance and extremist violence, education will play a crucial role in promoting mutual understanding.  It is essential to counter radicalization and the divisive, hate-filled narratives that extremists use to gain new recruits.

The World Education Forum will be an important contribution to our efforts, and I wish to thank UNESCO for its leadership.

The United Nations Academic Impact initiative is also playing a valuable role, and will organize a side event at the Forum aimed at furthering its work with institutions of higher education to advance UN goals. 

I appeal today to every Member State to give the Forum strong support and help us chart a new course for a better future for all through the power of education.

I look forward to seeing many of you there and I wish the Forum every success.

Thank you.