HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Education Above All, takes part in the EAA plenary during Wise 2014 on Wednesday. Picture: Maher Attar / HHOPL
By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of the Education Above All Foundation, on Wednesday called for universal primary education to be the first priority for development agenda post-2015 and set a challenge for the world governments, donors and civil society to live up to their promises to the 58mn children who are denied a primary education.
Taking part in a discussion 'Education Post-2015: The Unfinished Agenda, at the Wise summit yesterday, HH Sheikha Moza said 'political will' was needed for the realisation of the objective.
"We need to commit to the principle 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."
HH Sheikha Moza emphasised that with this combination of factors, it would be possible to get all children into primary education.
“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.”
The plenary session deliberations suggested an increase in funds and accountability for pledges to education, innovate to stretch funds, deepen youth and civil society engagement on the unacceptability of the situation, boost funds for disaster and humanitarian purposes, get better data and use it and prioritise quality primary education for the marginalised.
The speakers at the forum also highlighted the lack of funds in primary education. One of the speakers pointed out that the yearly spending for primary education globally stood at $26bn which is equivalent to the global spending on military expenses for a week.
Graça Machel, founder of Graça Machel Trust, said it was a pity that world leaders have not yet learned from the wars and conflicts that have happened already. "The world has all the resources. We must learn to negotiate to resolve the differences rather than going to war."
Aicha Bah Diallo, chair of Forum of African Women Educationalists, said "what is needed is not just donor money but co-ordinated money."
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.”
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 58mn 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.
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