The 27th of September marked a historic day when Head of States from all the 193 UN Member States convened in New York to adopt the new 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the successor to the previous 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Education still has its own standalone goal 4 to “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”, but, this time it also specifically deals with tertiary education. It is a development for which ESU has worked hard for and that we welcome. But now it’s time to work even harder to make the ambitious goal and its 10 targets a reality. ESU has already started much of this work in the month of October with two important meetings:
ESU had its first meeting with representatives from Education International, the European University Association, and the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions to discuss how the goal and its targets can be transformed into specific action from our European members. Although European countries have generally not acknowledged the relevance of the education goal at home, it is still clear that efforts within areas such as the social dimension and lifelong learning should be prioritised. The partners will continue discussions on a joint programme of action, which should serve as an inspiration catalogue. The programme is, to be released in early-2016.
From 8th to 9th of October ESU also participated at a global conference jointly organised by the International Association of Universities and the Jaume Bofill Foundation under the title “From Higher Education for Education for All to SDG4” The aim was to finalise discussions on how universities and students want to see the Framework for Action shaped and realised. The participants all welcomed the inclusion of tertiary education into the goals, but there was also a general agreement that institutions need to strategically rethink how and what type of learning they should provide.
Key areas of discussion were:
– ways to ensure that marginalised groups are reached
– ways Higher education institutions can respond to the education demands that the SDGs also present.
– Global Citizenship and Education for Sustainable Development., as well as the need to have these embedded into education in order to respond to issues such as radicalisation and climate change.
The ambitious agenda also presents a new responsibility for civil society and education stakeholders. It is this responsibility that ESU is committed to fulfill in order to truly realise the education goal. The next milestones will be the adoption of the Framework for Action in UNESCO Paris headquarters on the 4th of November, finalising the joint programme of action with our partners, and working to impact the formulation of indicators that will be the final benchmark of the ambitions.
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