“This Declaration is a huge step forward,” stated the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. “It reflects our determination to ensure that all children and young people gain the knowledge and skills they need to live in dignity, to reach their potential and contribute to their societies as responsible global citizens. It encourages governments to provide learning opportunities through life, so that people can continue to grow and develop. It affirms that education is the key to global peace and sustainable development.”
The Incheon Declaration builds on the global Education for All (EFA) movement that was initiated in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and reiterated in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. EFA – and the Millennium Development Goal on Education – resulted in significant progress, but many of its targets, including universal access to primary education, remain unfulfilled. Currently, 58 million children remain out of school – most of them girls. In addition 250 million children are not learning basic skills, even though half of them have spent at least four years in school. The Incheon Declaration must finish the ambitious EFA and MDG agendas.
“If this generation of children is to someday reduce the inequalities and injustices that afflict the world today, we must give all our children a fair chance to learn. This must be our collective vision and commitment,” said UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake.
The Incheon Declaration will be implemented through the Education 2030 Framework for Action, a roadmap for governments to be adopted by the end of the year. It will provide guidance on effective legal and policy frameworks for education, based on the principles of accountability, transparency and participatory governance. Effective implementation will require strong regional coordination and rigorous monitoring and evaluation of the education agenda. It will also require more funding, especially for the countries furthest from providing inclusive, quality education. The Declaration and Framework will urge countries to set nationally appropriate spending targets and increase Official Development Assistance to low income countries.
Speakers at the closing ceremony included Susan Hopgood, President of Education International, Kishore Singh, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Mohamed Sameh Amr, Chair of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Georg Kell, Executive Director of the UN Global Compact, António Guterres, High Commissioner of UNHCR (via video), Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Keith Hansen, Global Practices Vice President of the World Bank Group, Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Hwang Woo Yeo, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.
“We all agree that every student has the right to quality, free, public education,” said Susan Hopgood, the President of Education International – an organization representing more than 30 million teachers and education workers around the world. “However, in order to realize any education goals, students in every classroom must be guaranteed a well-trained, professionally-qualified, motivated and supported teacher. Providing quality education for all will require changes to education systems. To implement the Education 2030 Framework for Action and improve the quality of education, it is fundamental that our education systems are transformed into ones that foster an open and collaborative culture.”
Education is essential to achieving all of the new Sustainable Development Goals. It is necessary to eradicate poverty, boost shared prosperity and broad-based economic growth, and build peaceful, tolerant societies. Today’s Declaration demonstrates the common commitment to deliver this vision. It shows how education can transform lives.
More quotes from the heads of UN partner organizations
“We have a collective responsibility to ensure education plans take into account the needs of some the most vulnerable children and youth in the world – refugees, internally displaced children, stateless children and children whose right to education has been compromised by war and insecurity. These children are the keys to a secure and sustainable future, and their education matters for us all.” António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
“Together we must promote and protect every person’s right to education, and ensure that quality education reaches all, and instils values of peace, justice, human rights and gender equality. We are proud to have been a co-convener of the World Education Forum and pledge to take forward the new action agenda on education for all by 2030.” Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director.
“The Incheon Declaration rightly commits us to non-discriminatory education that recognizes the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment for sustainable development. This is a crucial opportunity for us to work together, across sectors, towards the fulfilment of the Education for All promise of peaceful, just and equal societies. A world where people are equal can only be achieved if our education also universally teaches this.” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director and UN Under-Secretary-General.
World Bank Group
“We are pleased that here in Incheon, we’ve set an ambitious goal to ensure that all children, everywhere are not only able to go to school, but that they get a quality education and learn the skills they need to lead healthy, productive lives and realize their full potential. A quality education is a fundamental right that is essential to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. To realize that right, the World Bank Group – as the leading provider of official development assistance for education – is helping countries mobilize all available resources and link financing to measurable outcomes to advance learning for all.” Keith Hansen, Vice President for Global Practices, World Bank Group