From recovery to accelerating SDG 4 progress: 2021 Global Education Meeting – Ministerial Segment

The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on education around the world. It has disproportionately affected vulnerable and marginalized populations exacerbating existing learning inequalities.

Countries and the international community need to transform ways of working at the global level to find sustainable solutions for the learning crisis. It is now critical to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 4, leveraging partnerships, innovations, and lessons learned from the COVID-19 response and recovery action over the past eighteen months.

The Ministerial Segment of UNESCO’s 2021 Global Education Meeting will take place on 13 July, at the margins of the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.

The 2021 Global Education Meeting Ministerial Segment will:

  • Discuss an improved global education cooperation mechanism
  • Take stock of measures and lessons learned from the COVID-19 education response to accelerate progress toward SDG 4 as well as regional benchmarks
  • Launch the second report of the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank-OECD Survey on national education responses to COVID-19 school closures

Improved global education cooperation mechanism

The 2020 Global Education Meeting triggered a dialogue about the need to improve the current global education cooperation mechanism to support countries’ progress towards SDG 4, especially in the context of recovering from the COVID-19 education disruption.

The 2020 Meeting called specifically for a multi-stakeholder consultation process to be led and designed by UNESCO and a dedicated working group. The consultation process is now achieved and included the following elements:

  • An extensive series of consultative meetings with countries and education actors.
  • An in-depth and evidence-based review of the current state of the global education architecture, including comparison with the global health and climate sectors, by an independent expert.
  • A survey of Member States to explore coordination challenges and good practices at the global, regional and country levels.
  • A consultation on the emerging proposals, across all regions and key constituencies in May 2021.

Based on these elements, the July Ministerial Segment is expected to endorse the new global mechanism.

Measures, lessons learned and benchmarks

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Education 2030 Framework for Action called on countries to establish “appropriate intermediate benchmarks (e.g. for 2020 and 2025)” for the SDG indicators, seeing them as “indispensable for addressing the accountability deficit associated with longer-term targets”. However, many countries have not yet translated the global targets into specific ones to serve as references to report their progress in a regular manner.

The extraordinary session Global Education Meeting in October 2020 reminded countries of their commitment to the Declaration, which called on “UNESCO and its partners, together with the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, to … accelerate the progress and propose relevant and realistic benchmarks of key SDG 4 indicators for subsequent monitoring”.

This session will showcase the regional benchmarks setting.

New publication on national education responses to COVID-19 school closures

As part of the coordinated global education response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank and the OECD conducted three iterations of the survey on national education responses to COVID-19 school closures.

During the meeting the second joint report, covering government responses to school closures from pre-primary to secondary education, will be launched.

The 2021 Global Education Meeting will be livestreamed in six languages and will bring together Ministers of Education, Development Cooperation and/or other relevant sectors, senior officials of UN agencies, international organizations, regional organizations and other development partners, representatives of the teaching profession, students and youth, representatives of civil society organizations and private sector and foundations.

The High-Level Segment of the Global Education Meeting will be held during the 41st Session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2021.

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