Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, wrote to the leaders of the Group of 20 nations before their recent meeting in London on 2 April, to plead the cause of education.
Mr Matsuura said world leaders must tackle systemic and financial problems at the same time as the fundamental issues that determine long-term economic development, such as education.
The Director-General stressed that “Expenditure for education is one of the most productive investments that a country can make. […] Research shows that by extending the average period spent at school by one year, per capita GDP is increased by 4 to 6 per cent. By injecting resources into education now, not only would we stimulate economic recovery, but we would also contribute to stronger growth in the future and guarantee global stability in the long term. This is why UNESCO proposes including education on the agendas of all international meetings aimed at resolving the current crisis.”
The Director-General added, “Investing in science, innovation and new technologies, including green technologies, is also fundamental for stimulating economic growth while contributing to a sustainable environment. UNESCO is already working with many countries, especially in Africa, to develop scientific policies and build human and institutional capacities in order to promote innovation.”
“Responding to the global crisis, which is of unprecedented magnitude and complexity, will require unfailing cooperation and international solidarity. The organizations in the United Nations System, including UNESCO, of which all the G20 countries are members, have the ability to undertake coordinated and strategic action,” said Mr Matsuura, stressing that “multilateralism will be vital for finding common solutions to the current challenges.”
The Director-General continued, “The crisis risks wiping out the gains of recent years - attained after major efforts - especially in developing countries, and compromising progress towards the development goals set by everyone, including the Millennium Development Goals. With the population of Africa expected to double in the next 35 years, cutting investments allocated to the reduction of poverty now is the best way to cause social disaster. […] I exhort the G20 to urge aid donors to reverse the current trend of decreasing aid commitments and disbursements.”