The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – Education 2030 Steering Committee has issued recommendations focusing on financing education as a public good, strengthening national ownership and addressing data gaps as part of its work to steer progress towards meeting internationally agreed targets for education. The Committee has now released its recommendations, made during its fourth meeting, at UNESCO’s Headquarters from 28 February to 2 March.
Established in 2016, the Committee is the main consultation and coordination mechanisms for education in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Entrusted with providing strategic guidance on the advancement of SDG4, it numbers 38 members, a majority of whom represent Member States, alongside eight UN agencies, the Global Partnership for Education, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), regional organizations, teacher organizations, and civil society networks, in addition to representatives from the private sector, foundations, youth and student organizations.
“The commitments of SDG4 are ambitious – only a ‘collective intelligence’ focused on strategies that are sensitive to place, culture, socio-economic needs and environmental realities will make it possible to build education systems. A fundamental principle must guide our work: education is a public good, a collective responsibility,” explained UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “It is through the cooperation between all educational stakeholders that we will succeed in meeting the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for education.”
“We have an ambitious agenda and it calls for urgency,” said Dankert Vedeler, co-chair of the Steering Committee. “We must keep the banner of education high in the overall SDG framework through advocacy, policy guidance, and monitoring.”
“What is most important for us is to achieve an alignment, a convergence between multilateral organizations and the region,” said Roberto Iván Aguilar Gómez, Bolivia’s Minister of Education and a member of the Steering Committee. He explained that the Committee “sets the stage for the work that we should look at to provide quality education.” Ahead of the UN High Level Political Forum Review that will review progress towards SDG4 in 2019, consultations are foreseen in Kenya, Bolivia, Thailand, Tunisia and France this year, to be followed by the Global Education Meeting scheduled to take place from 3 to 5 December 2018 in Brussels (Belgium).
The Committee congratulated Argentina on its presidency of the G20 and commended the priority it gives to education focusing on skills for lifelong learning and financing of education.
Emphasizing that education is a right for which governments are accountable, the Committee endorsed a yearlong advocacy campaign bringing together civil society networks, UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM), UN agencies, regional organizations and countries. According to the GEM, only 55% of countries have national legal frameworks that allow citizens to challenge violations against the right to education in court. As stated by youth representative, Victoria Ibiwoye, “We must never forget that education is not a privilege. It is a human right.”
With regard to education funding, the Committee stressed the importance of a harmonized focus across three pillars, domestic financing, official development assistance and innovative financing. It called for:
- all financing initiatives to respect education as a public good and be guided by the principles of equity, quality and inclusion, as well as 12 years of free publicly funded education;
- governments to increase public revenue, including through a larger tax base, to increase allocation to education and prioritize spending on the most marginalized groups;
- data collection to understand better the cost of basic education to households with a view to reducing the financial burden on families;
- reinforced dialogue between innovative financing providers, donors and beneficiary States and communities;
- private sector resource mobilization while ensuring effective regulatory mechanisms for transparency and accountability.
Data, monitoring and reporting
- Advocates for increased investment to cover needs estimated at USD280 million a year and calls for the guaranteed financing of institutions with a UN mandate to collect data and monitor SDG4, while appealing on all partners to work in a coordinated way, building on agreed responsibilities and shared cost;
- Encourages governments to strengthen and or develop holistic national evaluation systems and make plans to participate in regional or international learning assessments;
- Urges governments to report publicly on progress towards national education policy goals so as to improve accountability.
In the area of strategic policy guidance, the Committee:
- encourages Member States to identify better the many obstacles that undermine the right to education;
- calls for strengthened national ownership of the 2030 Framework for Action through national and regional education consultations, and the mainstreaming of SDG4 targets in national education systems;
- advises strengthening inter-sectoral coordination through mobilizing ministerial departments.