ISA is represented at the United Nations, but during the pandemic that representation was limited to remote access to many sessions. This year, once again, there is limited access into the UN Secretariat building, but the ability to watch events on UN Web TV is most prevalent.
As an education-based organization, one of the most relevant events that took place at the UN this year was the Transforming Education Summit. The three-day summit took place from the 16th to 19th of September at the United Nations Secretariat based in New York.
The many layers of the Transforming Education Summit’s success began on the opening day of the 3-day Summit, with youth advocates who shared a Youth Declaration with UN Secretary-General António Guterres after months of consultations from over a half a million young people. Their collective recommendations to policymakers delineated the need for transformation and commitments to education since youth are not just the beneficiaries, but consider themselves as partners.
The summit ended with more than 130 countries committing to strengthening their education systems after the crises COVID-19 has caused on educational systems. Leaders, teachers, students, civil society members, among others gave recommendations. Some of the identified measures by countries were to find ways to prioritize learning loss, support for psychological and social well-being of both students and teachers, measures to offset education cost for vulnerable communities, while 75 percent of the countries that participated highlighted the importance of gender-sensitive education policies. It was also clear from the outcomes of the summit that the role of education (SDG 4) in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and how they link to poverty, the climate crises, and conflict need support were apparent.
One of the most important outcomes of the summit was UN Secretary-General António Guterres and UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown’s announcement that an initial $2 billion dollars funding for education programs will be allocated starting in 2023, and an additional $10 billion dollars by 2030. This was possible through the first finance facility developed in collaborative partnership with the governments of Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and with the Asian and African Development Bank. This is known as the International Financing Facility for Education or IFFEd.
UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown with ISA Vice Chair and Main Representative to the UN Narin Stassis
The Summit proved to be a success with the Secretary-General’s resounding statement “We must push forward together, with a focus on tangible actions where it matters most: on the ground, in the classroom, and in the experience of teachers and learners alike.”