In his statement at the 37th General Conference of UNESCO, held in Paris, France, EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen has called for a renewed commitment for universal free quality education to be at the centre of the new global development agenda.
In his 11 November statement, van Leeuwen deplored that education as a basic human right “continues to be undermined due to a number of factors, such as the impacts of inequality, under-financing and, in some cases, a lack of political commitment”.
The right to education must be guaranteed for all people by the state throughout life, he said. “A holistic and life-long learning approach to all levels of education, from early childhood to universities, must be promoted.”
EI Unite for Quality Education initiative
Van Leeuwen also explained that, through the Unite for Quality Education: Better Education for a Better World campaign, EI and its member organisations and partners are advocating for a broader notion of quality. This definition of quality covers all elements of the education process, including broad-based curricula, safe schools with adequate facilities and resources, and a wide range of outcomes enabling young people and adults to develop to their full potential and contribute positively to society.
EI’s campaign, which will run for a year, emphasises three critical levers for improving the quality of education, namely:
· Quality teachers, teaching and learning
· Quality tools for teaching and learning, including ICT
· Quality environments for teaching and learning
Stressing that improving the status of teachers and the teaching profession is of paramount importance, van Leeuwen added that the training, recruitment, motivation and retention of qualified teachers are key to ensuring equitable access to quality education, and should be at the centre of efforts to improve the quality of education.
Quality education, a goal of the post-2015 development agenda
“When looking at defining new post-2015 education goals, measurable targets for literacy and numeracy might be appealing in their simplicity and clarity,” he said. “However, they restrict the broader purpose and transformative role and potential of education, and may force teachers to teach to the test. While literacy and numeracy are necessary and part of the broader set of competences that a quality education offers, they are far from sufficient, and our aspirations for quality education must go beyond narrow measurable learning outcomes.”
He went on to say that a renewed commitment coupled with increased investment in education is an absolute necessity. Tuition fees and the indirect costs of education still form the main barrier to equitable access to quality education, he condemned.
Being a public good and a basic right, education must be publicly financed, and the long-term goal should be sustainable education financed primarily from domestic revenue, he further said.
“World organisations and our nations cannot, should not, be co-opted or lured into gambling with the future,” van Leeuwen underlined. “The path from poverty to prosperity for this generation and the next absolutely depends on quality education, not only for the few and the fortunate, but for all.”
To read the EI General Secretary’s full statement, please click here