Among the distinguished guests present at the launch were: the Ministers of Education from Chile, Ghana and Jamaica, the Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, the honourable representative from the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Mrs Khurana, an eminent Indian educator who has devoted her life to the well-being of destitute children. Messages were also sent by the First Lady of the United States, Laura Bush, and by President Michelle Bachelet of Chile.
After opening remarks by the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ms Ann Veneman, the Director-General took the floor. He began by highlighting the extreme importance of the EFA Global Monitoring Report’s findings. “The release of the Report is one of the most important dates in UNESCO’s calendar year. The Report acts as a global compass. It informs countries and the international community on where we stand in relation to our goal of extending basic education to all by 2015. It also tells us where the most urgent challenges still lie”.
The Director-General went on to underline the close interdependence between the EFA agenda and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aimed at halving poverty by 2015. “These do not represent two separate agendas. They are one. The right to education for all cannot be fulfilled if hunger and poor health prevail. And conversely, quality education is key to improving human well-being and achieving sustainable development.”
This relationship is particularly stark with regard to early childhood care and education. For the most disadvantaged children, early childhood programmes can prove critical. “They are a guarantee of better protection, better nutrition and early stimulation, all leading to a better life”, Mr Matsuura said. “Economists have also convincingly demonstrated that early childhood programmes are also a sound investment. They promote fairness, social justice and economic productivity.”
The Director-General concluded by discussing the strategies needed to accelerate progress towards achieving Education for All by 2015. He drew attention to the importance of high-level national commitment to education, as well as of increased investment, both domestic and international. Strong and broad-based partnerships are also of the essence.
“The world’s ambitious development goals can only be reached through strong, steady and effective collaboration”, Mr Matsuura said. “UNESCO is proactively engaged in the effort to make the UN system more efficient in the countries we serve”, he went on, “our role is to continually raise the profile of basic education in development policy and strategically assist countries to expand and strengthen their education systems.”
The Director-General’s opening remarks were followed by a presentation of the 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report by the Report’s Director, Nicholas Burnett, and then by a high-level panel on early childhood care and education. Panellists shared good practices for reaching out to young children, in particular the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. They voiced unanimous support for early childhood programmes as key to a society’s peace and prosperity.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash info n°169-2006 - Publication Date: 30-10-2006