UN Reps and Global Issues

UN Reps and Education

 

UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education

FAWCO supports UN Sustainable Development Goal #4   

UN Reps Team and Education

FAWCO’s UN Reps collaborate with FAWCO's Education Team on education initiatives and promotion of the work of the UN Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Education Team works together with an international school in Cologne and rural schools in Kenya and Malawi on education exchange projects promoting education for global citizenship. Other Education Team issues include literacy, equal access to quality education, and continuing education after secondary school.

UNESCO Updates

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UNESCO Update by Pam Perraud, AAWE Paris and FAUSA

Learn more about UNESCO initiatives

Early Childhood Care and Education: Cradle for Social Cohesion
UNESCO held an international symposium "Early Childhood Care and Education: Cradle for Social Cohesion" at its headquarters in Paris on March 5 and 6, 2018. Investing in ECCE (Early Childhood Care and Education) is fundamental to attaining the Education goals of the 2030 Agenda. Specifically, SDG 4.2 targets boys' and girls' access to quality early development care and pre-primary education so that children are ready for primary education by 2030. 
In 2007, UNESCO reminded the international community that half of the countries in the world do not have ECCE  policies for children under three years of age. Progress has been made in some countries, but much remains to be done.
As Gabriela Mistral has said, "Many things we need can wait. A child cannot. Now is the time his bones are formed, his mind developed. To him we cannot say tomorrow, his name is today."
Learn more about the symposium.
 
 
Teen Brides - UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education
In Nepal it has been estimated that one in ten girls is married before the age of 15; many are married as young as 10 years old. Unfortunately, early marriage leads to early pregnancies and the girls are then forced to drop out of school. Through local Community Learning Centers (CLC), UNESCO has been offering series of 3-day training sessions for young women in Nepal. These sessions focus on understanding family planning, safe motherhood, immunizations and nutrition.  These and other life skills will better prepare the women and their families for improved life styles and income earning vocations. The UNESCO Malala Fund continues to provide funding to improve the quality of both formal and non-formal education to improve the lives of young girls. Read more about the Malala Fund in Nepal
 
Transforming Education Conference for Humanity
In December 2017, UNESCO helped organize the Transforming Education Conference for Humanity (TECH) in Visakhapatnam, India.  It brought together over 1700 participants from 75 countries, including teachers, gamers and technology experts, discussing how technology could be harnessed to engage and propel educational efforts around the world. High tech companies, including Microsoft, Samsung and Veative, urged educators to embrace technology so that "technology should be seen not just as a delivery platform but as a pedagogical tool." Youth and policy makers also debated whether technology increases or decreases the inequality gap of education, which made for a lively discussion. Learn more about the TECH conference.
 
UNESCO and the United States: A Historical Perspective
The US has announced that it is officially withdrawing from UNESCO, effective December 31, 2018. The reason cited was the organization's bias against Israel. To many long-term observers of the UN, this move by the US was not totally unexpected as the new US Administration had already announced severe cuts in the UN budget and UNESCO has long been a target of frustration of several administrations.
 
This is not the first time the United States has withdrawn from UNESCO. In 1984, under the Reagan administration, the US withdrew citing an anti-US, pro-Soviet bias, and complaints about poor management. The US did not rejoin until 2002. In 2011, the United States objected to the admission of Palestine as a full member of the organization and has refused to pay its dues to UNESCO since then. The US now owes $550 million to the organization and will owe over $600 million by the end of 2018, so costs were also considered a major factor in the decision to withdraw. 
 
617 Million Children Not Getting Minimum Standards of Education
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), approximately 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are not achieving the minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. This has been declared a  true "learning crisis" by the UIS and it could threaten the UN Sustainable Development Agenda. The data shows 387 million children of primary school age (56%) and 230 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (61%) will not achieve even minimum proficiency standards. Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest single number of failing students at 202 million, with 9 out of 10 children between 6 and 14 years of age not meeting minimum standards. Central and Southern Asia has the second highest rate with 81% not learning. Read the full report.
 
Pink Hard Hats - Encouraging Girls to Go Into Engineering
The color of hard hats is being changed by women engineers. UNESCO is collaborating with WomEng, an organization founded in South Africa in 2006, in 13 countries to develop the next generation of female engineers and leaders. Pink hard hats are their symbol. According to a recent UNESCO report entitled "Cracking the Code," only 11% of the engineers globally are female and WomEng has set their goal to change that. Naadiya Moosajee, one of the co-founders of WomEng, states she and her partner started the organization "because our engineering classes didn't have anyone that looked like us." Thanks to the programs of WomEng, she has seen the percentage of women in engineering classes in South Africa rise from 10% to 30-40%.  
 
Why the pink hat? The leader explains that they chose the pink hat for their students "because the hard hat is universal and it shows any person can become an engineer. It travels the world." UNESCO and WomEng are working together on the One Million Girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) campaign launched at the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March 2017. For more information on the WomEng program, click.
 
Mobile Literacy  for Women
In today's world, literacy means more than just knowing how to read and write.  Technical advances mean that in order to  have good employment opportunities or to advance, one needs to know how to use mobile phones. This new skill is particularly important to women's advancement in developing countries.  UNESCO has been studying the issues involved in educating women to take advantage of mobile phones in nine countries, four in Africa (Niger, Senegal, Somalia and Morocco), as well as  four in Asia (Afghanistan, Cambodia, India and Pakistan). This study shows their findings as well as detailed recommendations as to how to improve women's lives, voice, participation and employment possibilities with  mobile training. Read the full report.
 
International Literacy Day - September 8
Last year UNESCO celebrated the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day, celebrating five decades of global engagement with significant progress made to increase the literacy rates around the world. The purpose of International Literacy Day is to actively mobilize the world community and promote literacy as the engine to empower individuals, communities and societies. Each year on that day at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, several International Literacy Prizes are awarded to organizations that have proposed innovative solutions towards achieving the Education Agenda 2030, in line with UN SDG Target 4.6, which says that by 2030 all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, will achieve literacy and numeracy. 
 
Progress for Literacy - 50 Years
A new report entitled "Reading the Past, Writing the Future: 50 Years of Promoting Literacy" was issued this month by UNESCO, reviewing 50 years of global progress on fighting for literacy. The key finding was that there has been major progress in the spread of literacy for adults, particularly for women, since 1990. In 1950, just over half of all of the world's population was literate.  Since then, the adult literacy rate has increased by five percentage points every decade, on average to 86% in 2015. However, despite the progress, 758 million youth and adults are still illiterate and the actual number of illiterate adults has increased, meaning educational measures have not kept pace with population growth.  That is why Sustainable Development Goal #4 continues to be so important.
 
Education Awards for NGOs Serving the Disadvantaged
On February 22, 2017, in Paris, Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, presented the Jaago Foundation and Kiron with the King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize of $25,000 each for their innovative contribution to education. What was the innovation in each case? Leveraging technology to deliver education to more people who were not served before. Learn more about the prize and the winners here.  
 
Tracking Progress on Vital Global Education Themes
 Since 1974, UNESCO has been encouraging UN member states to make their national educational curriculum include important Global Citizenship issues - namely, human rights and fundamental freedoms, peace and non-violence and cultural diversity and tolerance, as well as equality, inclusion and non-discrimination.  These themes have been incorporated, as well, into the Sustainable Development Goals.   UNESCO has been tracking these efforts over time and has recently issued a new report, which indeed shows significant progress being made.  Some 86% of member states now include human rights and fundamental freedoms as part of their curriculum. Only 68%, however, include cultural diversity and tolerance.  Read more in the UNESCO report on Education for Cultural Understanding
 
Global Citizenship Education
In November 2016, as part of UNESCO's mandate to strengthen capacities of member states to design, develop and implement curriculum on Global Citizenship, specialists from four countries gathered at two UNESCO affiliates - the Asia Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) and the International Bureau of Education (IBE) - to discuss common issues and similar challenges related to the topic of Global Citizenship. The experts from Uganda, Columbia, Mongolia and Cambodia laid the foundations for Global Education Curriculum in their respective regions. The purpose was to develop roadmaps to set national priorities to guide implementation in local contexts. The agreed actions include raising teachers' awareness advocating Global Citizenship in Columbia; training textbook writers in Cambodia; developing pre-service training in Uganda; and mapping key stakeholders working on Global Citizenship in Mongolia. Read more about global citizenship curricula.
 
In October 2016, over 300 practitioners of Global Education met in Seoul, Korea to share best practices at a conference organized by the Asia Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), the Ministry of Education of Korea and JoonAng Libo, in partnership with UNESCO. Participants from the private sector, academia and other members of civil society shared their experiences and pedagogical approaches, one year after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which includes Global Citizenship Education (GCED) within its targets. UNESCO's Director of Inclusion, Peace and Sustainable Development emphasized the vital role of GCED to foster in learners "a mindset to care for humanity and the planet to undertake responsible actions when and where necessary." Read more here: "A innovative platform for global citizenship education"
 
Promoting Lifelong Learning with Validation of Basic Competencies
UNESCO's Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is working on a project to  develop international guidelines to give not only recognition, but also validation and accreditation to people who have learned and gained experiences in both formal and non-formal settings. These validations and accreditations could enable people to use these credentials as a springboard to higher levels of training and education.  Too often in developing countries, young people and adults have attended literacy programs or completed informal training, and there is no opportunity for them to continue their studies or to keep on learning. Such a system would also enable people to build on their life experiences and develop a portfolio at local community learning centers.  In countries like Benin, Mali, and Senegal, competencies have been validated combining literacy with vocational training. In Indonesia, alternative educational pathways are offered in both formal and informal ways. Read more here: "Promoting lifelong learning through the recognition of outcomes of youth and adult basic education".
 
Education is Key to Sustainability for the Environment
According to UNESCO Director Irina Bokova, "Rooting sustainability starts on the benches of schools." Ms. Bokova made those remarks at the High Level Panel on Education at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco, on November 14, 2016.  She went on to say that education is not an "add-on," but an integral part of the strategy to combat climate change.  It is the key to a green future.  Education is seen as "the nexus" for the Paris Climate agreement to succeed. Read more about Ms. Bokova's speech here: "Education is key for green future".
 
UNESCO Publishes New Guide for Open Online Courses
In June 2016, UNESCO launched a guide co-published with Commonwealth of Learning (COL) aimed at creating more awareness in developing countries about the huge potential Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs offer students.  MOOCs are now seen as vital to achieving the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal #4. MOOCs can enable access to affordable quality education for millions and help secondary school leavers to access academic or vocation education and training on a level never seen before. 
 
Taking on the Issue of Violent Extremism 
The world continues to be shocked by acts of violent extremism and UNESCO has joined other institutions trying to find solutions to curb it. In May, UNESCO published "The Teacher's Guide for the Prevention of Violent Extremism." The hope is that by using it, schools can provide room for dialogue on a subject which is often considered controversial. UNESCO is partnering with the Asia Pacific Center for Intercultural Understanding (APCIU) to train educators to prevent such extremism. The first workshops on the topic were held in Seoul, Korea in June 2016, gathering teachers and trainers from 26 countries as part of UNESCO's Global Citizenship Education programs. The European Union's Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN) and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum are also joining forces to present training seminars on the same topic with more regional scope in order to provide guidance for policy makers and supporting the work of teachers in the classroom.  In addition, a full "Policy Guide" for leaders of government and other social institutions on the same topic will be published later this year.  A major conference on combating extremism sponsored by UNESCO was held in New Delhi on Sept. 19 and 20, 2016.
 
Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL)
In February 2016, 26 ambassadors as well as over 100 representatives from civil society met at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to establish a Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL) within the framework of UNESCO's Lifelong Learning programs. The idea was to marshall all of the community stakeholders and partners to come together and work for common outcomes and share information in an effort to meet the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal for education, particularly for women and girls in vulnerable communities.  
 

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If you would like to get involved, join FAWCO's Global Issues Team on Education.

Target Program: Education

Through FAWCO's Target Program: Education (2016 – 2019), we explore the issues preventing millions of women and girls from receiving quality education around the world, and learn what world leaders in education are doing to remedy this injustice. We look at the impact educating women and girls has on their lives, their families, their communities and society.

"Education is not simply a moral imperative—it is the smart choice. Every dollar invested generates US$ 10 to US$ 15 in returns. Yet worldwide, some 61 million children are still not in school. Our shared ideals are simple. We want all children to attend primary school and to progress to secondary school and relevant higher education. We want them to acquire the literacy, numeracy and critical-thinking skills that will help them to succeed in life and live as engaged and productive global citizens.” - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

The UN's Global Education First Initiative

Excerpts from the UN report are below, or read the full report: "The Global Education First Initiative" (2012):

"It is time for the international community to face the fact that we have a crisis in education. We must be clear that if children are forced out of school, their governments and communities are also failing.

As we approach 2015, we must have unwavering support for achieving and exceeding the global education goals we have set for ourselves. It will take relentless and uncompromising focus on the most marginalized children and countries lagging furthest behind to finish the job. But we cannot stop until every child, youth and adult has the opportunity to go to school, learn and contribute to society.

When we put Education First, we see an end to wasted potential -- we unleash the human spirit.

Meeting the urgent needs of our children and communities will take more than good intentions. To fulfill the promise of the Initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General will lend his convening power, supported by his Special Envoy for Global Education and all the education-related UN agencies, to leverage the expertise and experience of existing stakeholders, as well as find innovative ways to engage new networks. Everyone has a critical role to play. When we act with unity of purpose and rise above self interest, miracles will happen.

Non-governmental organizations and community organizations must play an important role as advocates for education, including mounting media campaigns, mobilizing networks and members and engaging governments, donors and multilaterals."

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