“This year marks a special year - all regions of the world are gathering to review progress towards key Education 2030 commitments,” stated UNESCO Assistant-Director General for Education, Stefania Giannini, in her opening remarks at the fifth meeting of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee on 12-13 September 2018 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France.
During the meeting, the Youth representative, Victoria Ibiwoye, explained, in line with the Interagency Network on Youth Development, the benefits of a youth lens on SDG4. “It allows mobilizing and engaging the expertise, innovative thinking and first-hand experience of a group that is directly concerned by SDG4 and poised to significantly contribute to its achievement,” said Ms Ibiwoye.
Education International’s Mr Dennis Sinyolo, representative of teacher organisations, along with numerous countries and Regional Organisations, expressed “the supply of qualified teachers” as a priority and key to the progress of SDG4.
During discussions pertaining to Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), Director of UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM), Manos Antoninis, also briefed the committee about the in-depth study currently underway to ascertain how countries are re-orienting their education systems in light of SDG4. The Committee recognised the VNR process as a critical part of the accountability architecture for the SDGs, and encouraged Member States to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country driven.”
Director of UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Silvia Montoya, stressed “the need for cost-efficient data collection in an age of ‘data revolution’, as well as flexibility on data sources and definition of indicators”. Countries added that to fulfil the SDGs, capacity building in quality data collection at national level was necessary.
The Committee also highlighted the paramount role of regional organisations and civil society in the alignment of national, regional and global agendas. Discussion during the meeting were based on the need for impact at national level, which integrates the global commitments. “‘Leaving no one behind’ is not just a slogan. The Steering Committee provides guidance on what ministers can do, what actions can be undertake to make the SDG4 commitments a reality,” stated Jordan Naidoo, Director Education 2030 Division at UNESCO.
Not duplicating efforts and bringing partners together in order to act for education was raised at numerous points during the two-day gathering. The Foundation representative, Education Above All (EAA), presented its work in this vein. The Foundation has started the ball rolling to reduce duplication, create synergies, and leverage resources among foundations. EAA called on all the Steering Committee’s constituencies to do the same.
The Committee’s work also aimed to study the inter-linkages between the SDGs and the education goal. As stated by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Social and Economic Affairs, Mr Liu Zhenmin “ensuring quality education for all, throughout the life cycle, is at the heart of SDG4. If we can do this, we will also make great strides towards other goals – such as reducing inequalities, improving livelihoods and strengthening institutions.”
“UNESCO will convene, in close collaboration with the Steering Committee, the Global Education Meeting from 3 to 5 December 2018, which will be kindly hosted by Belgium. This is the first Global Meeting since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015,” said Ms Giannini. Among others, the Global Education Meeting will review progress towards the realization of SDG4, and examine the inter-linkages between SDG4 and Goals 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 13 (Climate action) and 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions).
Established in 2016, the Committee is the main consultation and coordination mechanisms for the education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Charged with providing strategic guidance on the advancement of SDG4, it, gathers members representing a majority from Member States, together with UN agencies, the Global Partnership for Education, the OECD, regional organizations, teacher organizations, civil society networks, in addition to representatives from the private sector, foundations, youth and student organizations.