Education Summit offers ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to recover learning losses, advance badly off-track goals and rethink education systems
Global leaders set to make major commitments at largest gathering on transforming education
Transforming education (theme)
New York, 16 September – Significant new commitments on key issues such as foundational learning, digital connectivity and financing are expected to be announced at the Transforming Education Summit, which falls during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. The three-day Summit (16, 17 and 19 September) will bring together dozens of Heads of State, as well as leaders from, business, philanthropy, youth and civil society.
Convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the theme of the Summit focuses on ‘transforming education,’ in response to major challenges relating to the relevance of education in a rapidly changing work and to the wake-up call provided by the COVID-19 pandemic when more than 90% of the world’s children have had their learning interrupted — the largest disruption of education systems in history. For many students, especially girls and young women, this break may become permanent, with implications for their future, as well as the economy, with a potential loss of US$ 10 trillion in earnings over their working lives. For others, deeply-ingrained exclusion and outdated curricula and learning methods leave them ill-prepared to deal with fundamental changes in the world of work, the climate crisis and heightened political polarization globally. Against this backdrop, the Summit intends to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda.
A youth-led Mobilization Day will kickstart Summit proceedings on 16 September, followed by a Solutions Day on 17 September, featuring stakeholders from civil society and the private sector, and other education actors. Finally, on Leaders Day on 19 September, national commitments will be announced.
COMMITMENTS CRUCIAL TO END EDUCATION CRISIS
In his message to education minsters gathered at the Transforming Education Pre-Summit in Paris on 29 June, the Secretary-General called on Heads of State and Government: “to lay out in crystal clear terms their promise and their plans to fundamentally transform education for the future.”
Over the past six months, national consultations have been organized in close to 150 countries to gather recommendations on the most urgent asks from teachers, students, civil society and other partners. These will be the foundations of national statements of commitments expected to be made at the Summit in New York, to set a new path for education to prepare learners of today for a rapidly changing tomorrow.
Commitments to thoroughly reimagine and reinvest in education are needed to reverse the slide on progress towards achieving the targets set out in Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure that lessons are learned from pandemic responses for resilience, social prosperity and environmental sustainability in the post-COVID world, and to think big on how we imagine education systems of the future.
YOUTH CALL ON LEADERS TO TAKE DECISIVE ACTION
Youth advocates have mobilized for action from the start of the Summit preparation process. On the first day of the Summit, youth advocates will share a Youth Declaration with the Secretary-General, which lays out their collective recommendations to policymakers on the transformation they want to see, along with their commitments for action on education. The Declaration is the result of months-long consultations and drafting process involving hundreds of thousands of young people worldwide.
Children and young people have the most at stake in reimagining education, as highlighted by the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed as she addressed the Pre-Summit Youth Forum: “Young people will determine whether the transformation of education comes to pass or not.”
The global campaign #LetMeLearn has also galvanized youth in the run up to the Summit, giving young people a platform to voice their demands for education transformation and have it shared at the Summit. Video messages from youth carried on social media in more than 100 countries have called on leaders to tackle exclusion, ensure gender equality, transform the teaching profession, renew curricula and end the digital divide.
Leaders Day will open following the SDG Moment. A key outcome of the Summit will be the Secretary-General’s Vision Statement, which charts a roadmap of action for education in the 21st century. Further, the Statement will serve as an input to negotiations in preparation of the Summit of the Future which will be held at the UN General Assembly in 2024.
Another highlight will be the announcement of new commitments, including the establishment of a new International Finance Facility for Education by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, and other partners, with details presented to world leaders at the Leaders Day,
The campaign organization Avaaz will also deliver a call to expand the international right to education, backed by more than 60 Nobel Peace Prize winners, current and former UN Special Rapporteurs, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other leading experts.
Personalities participating in the Summit include:
Sara Marley (Jamaica-USA), singer, who will perform at the opening of the Youth Mobilization Day
Maysoon Zayid (Palestine-USA), comedian, Princeton fellow, and disability advocate who will participate in the opening of the Solutions Day
Leaders Day will feature:
Malala Yousufzai (Pakistan), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UN Messenger of Peace
Priyanka Chopra Jonas (India), Actress and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
Vanessa Nakate (Uganda), Climate Activist and newly appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (as of 15 September)
Vision Statement of the Secretary-General on Transforming Education
Education is a fundamental human right. It has long held a special place in the hearts and minds of people across the world, and for good reason. Throughout history, it has been a source of personal dignity and empowerment and a driving force for the advancement of social, economic, political, and cultural development. Yet today, beset by inequalities and struggling to adjust to the needs of the 21st century, education is in crisis. The impacts of this crisis play out over time and often go unseen. But they are profound and will be felt for decades to come. If we are to transform our world by 2030 as envisaged by the Sustainable Development Goals, then the international community must give this crisis the attention it deserves. We must respond decisively, with conviction, imagination, and in solidarity to transform education. Informed by an extensive and inclusive preparatory process, we offer this Vision Statement to Member States and the global public to support our joint efforts towards that transformation, to contribute to the upcoming Summit of the Future, and as a manifesto for collective action.