Paris. UNESCO is set to host the “Transforming Education” Pre-Summit on June 28-30, a meeting of Ministers of Education, policy and business leaders and youth activists, who come together to build a roadmap to transform education globally.
This meeting is a precursor to the Transforming Education Summit (TES), to be held in September at the UN General Assembly in New York. This high-level summit was convened by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Manuel de Oliveira Guterres to radically change the approach to education systems after COVID-19 – especially for the most marginalised learners who are facing severe learning losses.
The meeting will focus on 5 key areas of transformation: Schools, Life-long quality learning, Teachers, Connectivity and Financing education.
A Youth-led Global Engagement Day will precede the pre-Summit on 28 June bringing together youth from around the world to center young voices in the conversation and provide opportunities for their perspectives on Transforming education to be heard and acted on.
Participants in the Pre-Summit will include heads of State of Ethiopia and Sierra Leone; 140 Ministers and Vice-Ministers of Education; UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay; EU Commissioner for International Cooperation Jutta Urpilainen; Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed; UNICEF Executive Director Catherine M. Russell; Summit Special Advisor Leonardo Garnier; Co-chair of the Advisory Committee David Sengeh; Youth activists; Champions of education, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Salif Traore.
“This is the moment to reverse the historical slide resulting from pandemic, climate and conflict disruptions, and to seek transformational changes around schooling, learning, teaching, technology, and financing of education,” said UNESCO in its release.
This meeting comes at a critical time when government spending on education everywhere is not keeping up with the growing crisis in learning. An estimated 40 percent of low- and lower-middle income countries have reduced their spending on education with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, with an average decline in real spending of 13.5 percent.
Further, in 2020, 43 bilateral donors decreased their aid to education, while households in the poorest countries are picking up 39 per cent of the total cost of education compared to just 16 per cent in high-income countries, according to a report released today by the World Bank, UNESCO’s Global Education Report and UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics.
“As the world slowly and painfully emerges from the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, which deeply affected education, and exactly midway through the 15-year period allocated to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the time is right to take stock of where the world is with the Sustainable Education Goal–and to act,” it added.
The pre-summit aims to prioritize quality education as a global public good, just like clean air and water, health and safety.