Asia Pacific education civil society gears up for High-level Political forum (HLPF) 2019

2019 is a big year for the education constituency worldwide as SDG 4 (the education goal in the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs) will be reviewed at the High-level Political Forum (HLPF), amongst several other goals.

The global event, which is organised annually to discuss the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will be held from 9-18 July 2019 at the United National Headquarters in New York, and will include a 3-day ministerial meeting where Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) will be conducted. The HLPF 2019 will be held under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and will be themed on ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality‘.

Apart from SDG 4 on quality education, SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), will be reviewed, in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) which is reviewed each year. Click here for more information on Thematic SDG Reviews.

UN Member States agreed that the HLPF will carry out regular voluntary reviews of the 2030 Agenda which will include developed and developing countries as well as relevant UN entities and other stakeholders. The reviews are state-led, involving ministerial and other relevant high-level participants, and provide a platform for partnerships, including through the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders.

The reporting to the HLPF is a practice that has gained traction, as dozens of governments are volunteering each year to participate and contribute their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). VNRs are the reporting procedure and review process that stakeholders use to ensure governments create policies and practices that leave no one behind. In 2019, 47 countries (7 for the second time) have volunteered to present their VNRs to the High-level Political Forum. From the Asia Pacific, Cambodia, Fiji, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, and Vanuatu will conduct VNRs for the first time. Indonesia and the Philippines will conduct VNRs for the second time.

Civil society coalitions at national and international levels have
prepared their own shadow or Spotlight Reports to follow-up on
their governments efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.
These Spotlight Reports provide the most comprehensive
independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030
Agenda and its SDGs. For the Asia Pacific, ASPBAE will
present 16 civil society Spotlight Reports of its member
organisations on SDG 4.

In the implementation and monitoring of SDG 4, ASPBAE calls for urgent action in five main areas –

1. Inclusion and Equity

Intensify and increase efforts to overcome all barriers towards achieving equity and inclusion in education, ensuring that no one is left behind.

  • Provide for adequately funded quality public education that guarantees equity and inclusion and ensures at least one year of free and compulsory Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), 12 years of free, publicly-funded primary and secondary education, 9 years of which are compulsory, multiple pathways to adult literacy and learning through formal and non-formal education for all ages.
  • To reach those left behind and for more direct and impactful responses towards their needs, strengthen the monitoring of SDG 4 and Education 2030 through adequate, updated, and disaggregated data that clearly identify and locate the marginalised, excluded, and vulnerable groups.
  • To ensure education quality, put in place an adequate number of professionally trained, highly motivated, well-remunerated, qualified teachers and educators supported within well-resourced and effectively governed systems.

2. Education Financing for the Right to Education  

Increased investments in quality education to meet all the SDG 4 targets including basic, non-formal, and youth and adult education, as well as strengthened regulatory measures to prevent the privatisation and commercialisation of education.

  • Increase investment in quality education to at least 4-6% of GDP and 15-20% of total public expenditure to education.
  • Enhance funding priority towards youth and adult learning and education, and early childhood care and education in costed education plans framed in a lifelong learning perspective.
  • Prevent the privatisation and commercialisation of education, and strengthen regulatory and accountability measures to ensure that private providers of education do not discriminate and undermine the right to education.

3. Beyond Schooling – Lifelong Opportunities for All

Provide empowering lifelong learning opportunities for all, including adult literacy as a right and foundational to further learning, education for engaged and responsible citizenship, skills for decent work and life for youth and adults, especially girls and women, in the framework of sustainable development, the pursuit of lives with dignity and a just peace.

  • Mainstream SDG 4.7 on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in both formal and non-formal systems of education; scale-up funding of Community Learning Centres (CLCs) as publicly resourced, community-driven spaces for transformative life-long learning opportunities.
  • Promote gender-responsive, quality Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and nonformal skills training for decent work and economic empowerment especially of marginalised women workers.
  • Scale up public financing for the promotion of adult literacy as a right and a foundational skill for further learning that equips especially the marginalised with the tools to know and exercise their rights, combat poverty and participate meaningfully in governance.

4. Civil society participation in all SDG processes

Institutionalise civil society participation in education governance and in all SDG processes at country, regional, and global levels, ensuring their effective and meaningful participation and contribution in policy development, planning, and monitoring and evaluation.

  • Institutionalise and guarantee meaningful civil society participation in SDG processes in country, regional, and global levels.
  • Ensure that Voluntary National Review (VNR) processes are inclusive, participatory, and transparent, and provide ample space for civil society engagement and recognition.
  • Ensure inclusion of civil society representation in official State delegations during international events related to SDG 4 and the overall 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

5. Youth participation and development

Institutionalise spaces for the effective participation and influence of the youth in the formulation of education policies and governance of education systems, ensuring quality education and learning opportunities for all youth, especially those from highly marginalised and excluded groups.

  • Provide institutionalised venues for youth participation in education policy development and governance and ensure ample opportunities to develop the foundational, technical, and transferable skills of the youth, particularly those from highly marginalised and excluded groups.
  • Put in place institutionalised mechanisms to ensure the active and meaningful participation of the youth in education governance at national and local levels.
  • Increased budget for more targeted education programmes for indigenous youth, children, and youth with disabilities, Muslim youth, child/youth labourers, rural and urban poor youth, and other marginalised youth.
  • Ensure a holistic and humanistic vision of education, integrating multiple diemensions of human existence aiming to develop the full potential of the youth.

ASPBAE will be co-organising 2 side events during the HLPF 2019.


The Invisible Friend: Adult Education and the Sustainable Development Goals

Date – 9 July 2019

Venue – Permanent Mission of Germany to UN, 871 United Nations Plaza, New York, Auditorium

Co-organisers – DVV International, International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), ASPBAE, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL)


Education to End Inequality and Promote Peace; Launch of CSO spotlight reports on SDG 4 from 16 countries in the Asia Pacific

Date – 10 July 2019

Venue – Chapel of Christ the Lord Episcopal Church Centre, 815 Second Avenue between East 43rd and 44th Streets, New York City

Co-organisers – ASPBAE, Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO), Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Soka Gakka International, Asia Alliance for Development (ADA), General Board of Church and Society (The United Methodist Church), The Episcopal Church Centre

ASPBAE will be also speaking at the following events –

Unifying the Playing Field: Local and Global Movements to Advance the Right to Education

Date – 12 July 2019

Venue – Ford Foundation Centre for Social Justice, 320 E 43rd Street, New York

Organisers – Global Campaign for Education (GCE), Light for the World, Global Campaign for Education-United States, Results

Global Campaign for Education (GCE) Education Caucus

Date – 13 July 2019

Venue – Phelps House Building, 595 Columbus Avenue | NY, NY 10024

Organiser – Global Campaign for Education (GCE)

Tapping the Potential of Non-Traditional Livelihoods (NTLs) for Social Transformation

Date – 15 July 2019

Venue – Ford Foundation

Co-organisers – American Jewish World Service, Azad Foundation

Do join us for these events.

We look forward to bringing you more news and updates before and during the HLPF 2019. Watch this space for more!

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