Global Education Meeting Reviews Progress on SDG 4
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization convened a high-level Global Education Meeting to review progress on global education targets and commitments, hosted in Brussels by the Government of Belgium.

In the Brussels Declaration from the meeting, delegates committed to, inter alia: including migrants and refugees in education systems and facilitating recognition of their qualifications; providing quality gender-responsive education; and strengthening education for global citizenship and sustainable development.

The meeting outcome will feed into discussions at the 2019 session of the HLPF, through the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee.

5 December 2018: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) convened a high-level Global Education Meeting to review progress towards global education targets and commitments. SDG 4 (quality education) is one of the Goals up for in-depth review at the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and the meeting focused on this and related international commitments.

The meeting took place from 3-5 December 2018, hosted by the Government of Belgium in Brussels. It comprised a high-level technical meeting convening in parallel sessions over the first half of the three-day event, followed by a ministerial-level segment. The meeting considered SDG 4 as well as the commitments enshrined in the 2015 Incheon Declaration and the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The meeting also had the theme, ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’

In the resulting Brussels Declaration, participants committed to: including migrants and refugees in education systems and facilitating recognition of their qualifications; providing quality gender-responsive education; and strengthening education for global citizenship and sustainable development. The meeting outcome will feed into discussions at the 2019 session of the HLPF, through the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee.

Stefania Giannini, UNESCO, noted that “we are globally not on track to achieve SDG4 targets by 2030.” She set out three challenges: coordinating collective action; mobilizing adequate financing; and addressing the gaps in human capacity, institutions and political will. She stressed that more effort will be needed to achieve quality education for all, including traditionally excluded groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous people and the poorest. She urged all concerned to make the most of forthcoming opportunities in 2019, including: the first International Day of Education on 24 January; the HLPF and G7 meetings in July; the UNGA in September; and the UNESCO General Conference in November.

Inga Rhonda King, UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) President, reminded delegates of global inequality of access to education and services, noting that one-third of all schools lack basic sanitation services, and in the least developed countries (LDCs), one third do not have electricity. She stressed that education must not exacerbate societal divides, and called for education that prepares young people for the changes brought by globalization, new technologies, changing labor markets, and transnational environmental and political challenges. She welcomed the UNGA’s recent decision to proclaim 24 January as International Day of Education.

The Brussels Declaration from the meeting reaffirms several international targets and agreements, and notes the centrality of education to achieving all the SDGs. It calls on the HLPF and UNGA to step up progress on SDG 4. The Declaration calls for strengthening domestic resource mobilization, including through tax reform and anti-corruption measures, as well as increasing the volume and predictability of international aid. Specifically, it affirms the Education 2030 Framework for Action targets of allocating at least 4-6% of GDP and at least 15-20% of total public expenditure to education.

Other key messages from the Declaration include commitments to: include migrants and refugees in education systems and to facilitate the recognition of their qualifications, provide quality gender-responsive education, and strengthen education for global citizenship and sustainable development.

The Global Education Meeting was the venue for several side events, including the launch of the SDG 4 Data Digest and a panel discussion on achieving universal literacy, organized by the Global Alliance for Literacy.

The July 2019 session of the HLPF will focus on the theme, ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,’ and review progress towards the realization of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), SDG 13 (Climate action), SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). The Brussels meeting on SDG 4 was the first gathering to conduct substantive preparations for the in-depth reviews. A preparatory meeting on SDG 13 will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1-3 April 2019. The others will take place on dates to be announced. [Concept Note and Programme]


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