The final push: Education for All Beyond 2015 – Agenda 2030
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - November 8, 2018 - 12:00am

BANGKOK – Before the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals 2000-2015 concluded, UNESCO has started a series of regional evaluation at the Asia Pacific Regional Education Conference (APREC) held Aug. 6 to 8 in Bangkok, Thailand. The first in a series of UNESCO regional education conference to take place around the world, the Asia Pacific region represents the largest population of the world, followed by Africa and Latin America, where underdeveloped countries are situated. The worldwide movement of Education for all initiated in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and was reaffirmed in Dakar, Africa in 2000, where findings revealed that although enrollment increased, education was substandard.

Approval of the Philippine Sea Lifelong Center for Sustainable Development

Being the most important commitment to education in recent decades, efforts since the turn of the millennium have yielded significant progress. Yet Education for All (EFA) agenda and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were unlikely to be achieved by 2015.

There is therefore consensus on the need for a new and forward-looking education agenda that completes the unfinished business. Thus it was declared the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) 2005-2014. To meet the ESD challenges, UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura approved the UNESCO Philippines proposal to be the Southeast Asia Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA-CLLSD) in 2010 as Category 2.

Before then, I, as the Philippine UNESCO Secretary General, and my commissioners spent five years undertaking visits and consultations with the nine other ASEAN countries so they could send teacher-trainees to acquire the ESD-ECCE formation course in the center to sustain the concept of “global citizenship.”

Global consultation with governments, civil society, the private sector and youth have identified education as a central priority for the post-2015 development agenda. Education must therefore be placed at the heart of the global development agenda.

A decrease in int’l aid caused negative impact on education

At the sixth meeting of UNESCO’s Collective Consultation of NGOs on Education for All (CCNGO/EFA), non governmental organizations (NGOs) considered the bottlenecks which have hampered ESD-EFA agenda, stating: “We deplore the negative impact on education of the global financial and economic crisis and interruption of educational opportunities caused by climate crisis. We deeply regret that for the first time since 1997, there has been a decreased in international aid to education. As a result, in 2010, there were 250 million children with four years schooling remaining without basic literacy and numeracy. There were still 775 million adults lacking literacy skills, of whom 64 percent were women. Two hundred million 15- to 24-year-olds have not completed primary school, including 71 million adolescents who lack access to lower secondary education. More than 620 million young people are neither working nor studying.”

The 7 proposed educational targets for 2015-2030

The proposed overarching education goal is translated into seven proposed global education targets with emphasis on gender equity and the most marginalized:

Target 1 – By 2030, at least x percent (percentage were decided in May 2015 at the MDG conference in Incheon, South Korea) of girls and boys are ready for primary school through participation in quality early childhood care and education, including at least one year of free and compulsory pre-primary education.

Target 2 – By 2030, all girls and boys will complete free and compulsory quality basic education of at least nine years and achieve relevant learning outcomes.

Target 3 – By 2030, all youth and at least x percent of adults reach a proficiency level in literacy and numeracy sufficient to fully participate in society, with particular attention to girls and women and the most marginalized.

Target 4 – By 2030, at least x percent of youth and y percent of adults have the knowledge and skills for decent work and life through technical and vocational, upper secondary and tertiary education and training.

Target 5 – By 2030, all learners acquire knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to establish “global citizenship” education and education for sustainable development.

Target 6 – By 2030, all governments ensure that all learners are taught by qualified, professionally trained, motivated and well supported teachers.

Target 7 – By 2030, all countries allocate at least 4-6 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or at least 15-20 percent of their public expenditure to education, prioritizing groups most in need; and strengthen financial cooperation for education, prioritizing countries most in need.

The strengthening and alignment of these targets were taken into account at the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development held in Aichi, Nagoya on November 10 to 12, 2014.

Vision of ‘Education Beyond 2015’ must be aggressive

Asia has changed much since the 1990 launching of EFA in Jomtien, Thailand. Persistence of disparities in income and access to technology remain alarming. While the youth population is bulging in some countries, the aging population is mounting in others. The onslaught of climate change is constant while environmental degradation is unabated.

The Education Ministers were unanimous in their aspiration for an expanded vision of education. They stated, “We reiterate our commitment to fulfilling the right to quality education and ensuring lifelong learning opportunities.”

All the way from Paris, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education Dr. Qian Tang emboldened the unhurried response of participants: “Our vision must be more aggressive, more committed not just involving government, non-government agencies but all stakeholders.

There must be the forward-looking perspective. The fight isn’t over yet. We don’t know how many targets the 195 UNESCO member states will commit to.”

The following year the UN Millennium Development Goals accomplishments per country was reviewed at the UN General Assembly.

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