Education 2030 – ensuring learning needs of young people and adults are not left behind

ASPBAE Secretary-General, Maria Khan, speaks at the High Level Meeting on Education 2030
4 November 205, Paris

Maria Khan, ASPBAE Secretary-General

Your excellencies, colleagues,

I speak on behalf of the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), a regional civil society network of more than 150 civil society organisations operating in 30 countries of the diverse Asia Pacific region.

We welcome the adoption of the Education 2030 Framework for Action. We celebrate the consensus forged around this – affirmation of the wide education community’s commitment to education as a human right, indicating a sincere desire to pursue the unfinished EFA agenda, while confronting the more contemporary challenges to education that deny millions their right to  education.

We are pleased in the Education 2030’s strong commitment to equity, to end all forms of discrimination in education, to achieve gender equality and to promote lifelong learning for all. We are acutely aware however that equity in education means paying far more attention than we have had to the education of youth and adults – understanding that today, 122 million young adults are without literacy skills and 17% of the world’s adult population are denied their right to literacy, 2/3 of these women. Adults’ informed choices, their meaningful participation in decisions which impact their lives and the future of their communities is facilitated profoundly by literacy. Adult education and learning can offer routes to sustain livelihood, to gain employment, improved health, offer first and second chances to those who have missed or been pushed out of education, find solutions to the climate crisis, fight inequity and crushing poverty. It has and can change lives, spur the creativity and imagination needed by communities to help them not only cope with but transform their conditions. We are hopeful with the promise Education 2030 holds to end age-based discrimination, and ensure that the learning needs of young people and adults are not left behind.

We observe however worrying signs in the area of financing: the Addis Ababa Action Agenda’s glaring omission in reference to adult literacy and adult education is a cause of great concern. We are alarmed by the trend of growing education privatisation – where huge economic profits are made on the shoulders of the poorest, denied quality public education in the abject failure of many public systems to deliver. We call for financing efforts to prioritise the strengthening of the public education systems. This, we believe is fundamental to ensuring equity, inclusion and to guaranteeing the right to education.

As our sights now turn towards the implementation of Education 2030, we look forward to broad stakeholder and institutionalised participation of civil society in shaping country actions to achieve SDG 4. We are pleased to see the commitment to continue the UNESCO Collective Consultation of NGOs as a unique, institutionalised, formal mechanism for civil society participation in the new global architecture.

For our part in civil society, we recommit our energies, inspiration and fortitude in advancing equitable, inclusive quality education and lifelong learning truly for all.

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