Inequality and challenges to peace in the Asia Pacific region and the transformative role of education in the empowerment of people were at the centre of the discussions during ‘Education to End Inequality and Promote Peace‘, a side event to this year’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF) 2019 organised by ASPBAE and the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN (CoNGO)on 10 July 2019 in New York along with the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), Asia Development Alliance (ADA), General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), Soka Gakkai International, and the Episcopal Church Center at the Episcopal Church Center.
The side-event aimed to inspire participants to lobby for inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all. It also envisaged that SDG 4 (the education goal in the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) will be broadened into one that is transformative, challenging inequality and promoting peace.
Because SDG 4 will be reviewed during HLPF 2019 for the first time ever since the 2030 Agenda was adopted, the year 2019 is considered a momentous one for the education constituency worldwide, especially for ASPBAE. This was reiterated by ASPBAE’s Cecilia (Thea) Soriano who stated that, “ASPBAE believes that civil society must play an active role in the SDG process since we all have a stake in ensuring that all the SDG 4 targets are realised by 2030″.
The programme began with an opening address by CoNGO First Vice President, Cyril Ritchie, on the side event’s contribution to HLPF 2019, followed by a plenary session on inequality and education that was chaired by ASPBAE President, Nani Zulminarni. It featured talks by Beckie Malay of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) on the Faces of Inequality; Jordan Naidoo of UNESCO on SDG 4 towards Equality and Peace; and Cecilia Soriano on the Civil Society Monitoring of Inequalities in Education.
The side event also offered a platform for ASPBAE President, Nani Zulminarni, and ASPBAE Executive Council member representing South and Central Asia, Meenu Vadera, to launch a Regional Report and Civil Society Spotlight Reports on SDG 4 prepared by ASPBAE and national education coalitions in 16 countries in the Asia Pacific Region. The reports represent ASPBAE’s contribution in presenting the civil society analysis and perspective in SDG/SDG 4 progress, placing particular focus on the concerns and aspirations of the most marginalised and excluded groups.
Nani declared these spotlight reports as “borne out of a one year process of consultations with grassroots communities, education sector stakeholders, marginalised youth, and NGOs.” In closing, she acknowledged the diligent work done by ASPBAE members and coalitions, noting the importance of the key messages in the reports that highlighted education’s “pivotal role in achieving all the SDGs towards transforming our world to one that is peaceful, just and resilient, and where prosperity is shared and enjoyed by all.”
The Spotlight Reports highlight the power of education as a critical agent for social change that contributes towards transforming our world to one that is just, inclusive, peaceful, and resilient. The reports also noted that inequity in education remains a serious challenge and has actually widened in a significant number of countries. Many governments tend to overlook the magnitude of inequity and gloss over the impact of such disadvantages on access and quality of learning.