CIVICUS' UN Representative in Geneva, Renate Bloem, made an intervention today that the UN Economic and Social Council reaffirming that "CIVICUS believes that UN member states and global civil society need to work together to ensure quality education for all, in accordance with international norms and best practices. Moreover, civil society can play a strategic role in shaping development policies and in ensuring their proper implementation."
Statement delivered by Renate Bloem
4-8 July 2011
Thank you, Mr. President
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, in General Consultative Status with ECOSOC, is a global movement of civil society with members and partners in over 100 countries. CIVICUS works to strengthen civil society and citizen action throughout the world, especially where participatory democracy and freedom of association are threatened.
Since the 2010 MDG Summit, it has been CIVICUS’ position that achieving the Millennium Development Goals will require cooperation between world leaders and civil society actors to fulfil existing commitments, promote transparency and accountability, and ground MDG policies in the social justice and human rights framework. We firmly believe that education is a basic human right. Therefore, achieving Goal 2 of the MDGs is indispensable to empowering people to advocate for and realise the rights guaranteed by the International Bill of Rights and other international treaties and covenants.
Education can and should be transformative and empowering. Achieving universal primary education is an important step towards the ultimate eradication of poverty, improving the quality of life for everyone and promoting respect for the rule of law. Furthermore, civic education is an important component of democratic, sustainable societies. It empowers people to communicate their needs and challenges to policy makers and to campaign for positive change.
CIVICUS believes that UN member states and global civil society need to work together to ensure quality education for all, in accordance with international norms and best practices. Moreover, civil society can play a strategic role in shaping development policies and in ensuring their proper implementation.
Access to education is also the foundation to other development goals, such as gender equality. In particular, quality and relevance of education and retention of girls in school is the most needed requirement to eradicate illiteracy and poverty and the best investment for a better society as a whole.
However, improving the attendance rate for primary schooling cannot be achieved without changing attitudes on the ground, such as those favouring the education of sons over daughters. The new global UNESCO-led initiative “Better Life, Better Future” is a step in the right direction, but as this endeavour recognises, the struggle cannot succeed without the inclusion of civil society voices.
Education must also play an important part in reducing inequalities and in celebrating diversity. It must therefore recognize the multiplicity and plurality of narratives of the world’s peoples, including narratives of indigenous peoples and their right to their indigenous ways of being,
To accelerate progress on MDG Goal 2, we believe that governments and civil society must work together at critical junctions including the joint development and implementation of educational strategies for greater inclusiveness and relevance. Notably, they also must work together to monitor progress on the ground.
In sum, CIVICUS would like to reaffirm its belief in the transformative power of education to ensure the active participation of citizens in governance processes as well as to tackle the major global challenges of our times including poverty, inequality and climate change.
View the summary of the full discussion here.