Today in Doha, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Education Above All Foundation, put forth a challenge to the world – governments, donors and civil society - to live up to its promises to the 58 million children who are denied a primary education. Her Highness called on all sectors to break new ground with different approaches to accelerating access to education for the most marginalised children at the World Innovation Summit for Education.
Setting out what needs to be done in order to achieve universal primary education, Her Highness said: “What we need is political will. We need to commit to the principle that that education should be at the centre of development goals, as an enabler of all other areas of development.Once we have that commitment, we can come together to make it happen by galvanising partners, getting the right aid architecture, getting resources to the most marginalised and securing better accountability from all parties”.
Her Highness stressed that with this combination of factors, it would be possible to get all children into primary education. The plenary discussion culminated in recognition of the need for a big and urgent push to accelerate progress, with the following call to action:
- Increase funds and accountability for pledges to education
- Innovate to stretch funds
- Deepen youth / civil society engagement on the unacceptability of the situation
- Boost funds for disaster and humanitarian purposes
- Get better data and use it
- Prioritise quality primary education for the marginalised
Her Highness said: “Every child denied a primary education is one child too many. The children who remain out of school are the most marginalised, and are therefore most in need of assistance. If we break our promise again, we are putting our dignity at risk.”
A panel of distinguished development and education advocates, experts and private sector representatives identified the need for new efforts to be undertaken to right the curve towards progress on access to primary education. In a pre-recorded message, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia said: “I believe we are not only talking about more access of children, particularly children in low income countries. But now were talking in post-2015 about quality of education. We have found that using enrolment indicators, number of schools and ratios of teachers to students, as useful as they are, did not show whether the students were learning at a level that truly equipped them to become professionals. We’d like to urge everyone to give some attention to quality in the new development agenda.”
At the turn of the millennium, the UN led a process that resulted in the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, including MDG2 – achieve universal primary education. With about 420 days before the deadline of the MDGs, the finish line remains in the distance with 58 million children lacking access to their fundamental human right to education. Meanwhile, the follow-on sustainable development priorities post-2015 are being debated now. The outcome of this process is due in September 2015.
Speaking on the topic of financing of primary education, Laila Bokhari, State Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister of Norway, said: “Reaching the most vulnerable is a priority we are committed to. We need to show leadership from the very top to show the importance of the commitment to education.” Founded by Her Highness in 2012, Educate A Child, a global programme of Education Above All, has in two short years made possible the establishment of commitments for more than 5 million children to access educational programmes via co-funded projects in more than 30 countries around the world.
An emerging market, Qatar has committed 50% of its overseas development aid to education. Other countries have joined the Global Partnership for Education, adding new names to the traditional aid donors that have remained flat or declined in recent years. Education Above All, through the leadership of Her Highness, will move the agenda forward in collaboration with partners to ensure the SDGs prioritise primary education. Via high-profile appearances, and work with various development stakeholders, EAA will work to set an action plan for the next education development goal, a direction that prioritises the fulfillment of the promise to out of school children.
To engage the social media community beyond WISE, Her Highness introduced a global call-to-action to lend thousands of voices to an online Thunderclap on 13 November 2014. Individuals can sign up to donate a tweet or post to the cause via a link on the Education Above All and Educate A Child websites (educationaboveall.org and educateachild.org, respectively).