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A “sense of urgency” underscores Eighth High Level Group meeting on Education For All
Organized by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of Norway, this eighth meeting of the High Level Group on Education for All will be opened by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura with the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, H.M Queen Rania of Jordan, H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade (16 December, 3.30 pm – 5 pm, Oslo Town Hall). A video message from United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, will also be presented
Discussions will focus on overcoming inequality using education as a driver for change. A debate on this theme will be held immediately after the opening ceremony (5-6 pm). Guest participants will include Greg Mortenson, co-founder and executive director of the Central Asia Institute and author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace …One School at a Time”, and Craig Barrett, Chairman of the Board of the Intel Corporation. This panel debate will be webcast at www.regjeringen.no.
In the sessions that follow on 17 December, the ministers will address the issues of governance and political commitment to equity, girls’ education, recruiting and rewarding teachers and financing Education for All.
According to the 2009 Education for All Global Monitoring Report*, published recently by UNESCO, one in three children in developing countries (193 million in total) reaches primary school age having had their brain development and education prospects impaired by malnutrition – a figure that rises to over 40% in parts of South Asia.
The Report also finds that 75 million children of primary school age are not in school, including just under one third of the relevant age group in sub-Saharan Africa, and that whereas over a third of children in rich countries complete university, in much of sub-Saharan Africa, a smaller share completes primary education and just 5% attend university.
National disparities mirror global inequalities. Children in the poorest 20% in countries such as Ethiopia, Mali and Niger, are three times less likely to be in primary school as children from the wealthiest 20%. In Peru and the Philippines, children in the poorest 20% receive 5 years less education than children from the wealthiest families.
Wealth is not the only marker for disadvantage. Girls are still neglected in education. Gender enrolment gaps remain large across much of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Disadvantages based on language, race, ethnicity and rural-urban differences also remain deeply entrenched. In Senegal, children in urban areas are twice as likely as those in rural areas to be in school.
“We are expecting the High Level Group to galvanise support for the provision of quality education for all, especially the poorest and marginalised,” said UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura. “Unequal opportunities for education fuel poverty, hunger, and child mortality, and reduce prospects for economic growth. That is why governments must act with a greater sense of urgency.”