At the UN General Assembly, the Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning highlights the centrality of education in development efforts

The Group of Friends for Education and Lifelong Learning delivered a joint statement and engaged in a discussion with the Special Rapporteur on the right to education following the presentation of her annual report.


The Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Ms. Koumba Boly Barry, presented her new thematic report and engaged in an interactive dialogue with the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, on the interrelations between the right to education and the rights to water and sanitation.


The Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the lack of policy prioritization of the COVID-19 responses and stressed that it is essential that all countries have sufficient flexibility and responsiveness to address future health crises and environmental issues. She called on all states to ensure sufficient water infrastructure and sanitary facilities as well as adequate hygiene products for all educational institutions without discrimination. “The rights to water and sanitation, like many other human rights, cannot be fully implemented without the realization of the right to education”, the Special Rapporteur stated. She further urged all government to give special attention to menstrual hygiene and health issues “which are extremely important to ensure the right to education of girls and women”. In 2016, 335 million girls around the world attended primary and secondary schools without adequate water and soap for hand-washing as part of their menstrual hygiene management, according to her report. “It is crucial that menstrual health education is addressed in the curriculum.


During the interactive dialogue, Mr. René Zelený, Minister-Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic to the UN, in his capacity as a co-chair of the Group for Education and Lifelong Learning, delivered a joint statement reaffirming its members’ commitment to the right to education for all.


“The right to education is fundamental for a life of dignity for each person and for the implementation of all SDGs as it unlocks progress across global agenda: from development, health and well-being to climate change and economic recovery,” Mr. Zelený emphasized.

Amidst the global education disruption due to COVID 19, the Group recalled that ‘the fundamental rights and the prospects of a better future of students are at acute risk, with their human security undermined”. Therefore, it encouraged the international community to retain its focus on the provision of education to learners in vulnerable or marginalized situations. Ensuring sufficient funding for education, adequate WASH facilities and infection control measures as well as access to digital technologies for distance learning should be included in the response and recovery efforts from the COVID-19” the Group advised.


The Group also welcomed the adoption of the General Assembly resolution (A/RES/74/275) that proclaims September 9th as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack.


The Extraordinary Session of Global Education Meeting (GEM) to focus on education post-COVID-19, was mentioned as a key milestone in the roadmap to revamp the global education architecture. The session is convened this week by UNESCO, in partnership with the Governments of Ghana, Norway and the United Kingdom.