Asia-Pacific Regional Online Consultation on the 2020 Global Education Meeting (GEM)

The Asia-Pacific region faces unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic on governments to ensure learning continuity and on learners, parents, teachers, and caregivers. While the pandemic continues to unfold, it is increasingly evident that education itself will be defined by a new schism – the policies and practices before COVID-19, and those that will come to define the next generation of learning.

On 23rd September 2020, the Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on Education 2030+ (AP-RTWG Education 2030+) Secretariat at UNESCO Bangkok hosted a regional consultation on ‘The 2020 Global Education Meeting (2020 GEM) Declaration’ that enabled member states and civil society organizations (CSO) to discuss and collect regional inputs on the draft outcome document “2030 GEM Declaration” for the upcoming extraordinary session of the 2020 GEM scheduled on 20 and 22 October.

Ms Maki Hayashikawa, the Director of the Division of Education 2030 Support and Coordination at UNESCO, said, “The extraordinary session aims to secure a commitment from political leaders by positioning Education in the center of national and international efforts to recover inclusively and sustainably from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Inputs from distinguished country representatives and CSOs included a focus and strong emphasis on the curricula, gender, and governance. Participants also highlighted a lifelong learning perspective to avoid gaps between Early Childhood Education (ECE), Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Adult Education. A CSO representative suggested having a multi-sectoral involvement, especially from the private sector as innovative financing actors. Others stressed the need to mention disability, remote rural areas, and the most marginalized in the document. A suggestion from the body to affirm UNESCO’s leadership role in coordinating the SDG4-Education 2030 Agenda and the inclusion of the Global Partnerships Education were also put forward.

This multifaceted engagement and collaboration across member states and CSOs will be key for the 2020 GEM Declaration to cover the urgent educational themes in the context of COVID-19 response and recovery and as we embark on the decade of action of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, our responsibility as a community is to leave absolutely no one behind.

AP-RTWG Education 2030+ will continue to encourage its members to provide any further general comments or suggested inputs in the draft Declaration document.

According to Ms Hayashikawa, the outcome document “2020 GEM Declaration” will be implemented by Member States in the next 12 months and its progress will be reviewed in the ordinary GEM session in November 2021.