Ministers affirmed the importance of maintaining resources, as well as aid commitments for education and for national governments and the international community to work together to mitigate risks in this sector.
18 June 2009
Outcome recognises that education provides a fundamental tool for self-improvement and national development and is a basic human right
Commonwealth education ministers ended their four-day deliberations today (Thursday) and reaffirmed their commitment to internationally agreed education goals, while emphasising the need to plan beyond 2015.
Delegations from 40 countries, of which 37 were led by ministers, attended the 17th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (17CCEM) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 15 to 18 June 2009.
This year’s conference celebrated 50 years of Commonwealth education ministers meetings and was the largest ever gathering of its kind, with around 1,200 delegates attending.
The ministerial meeting was supported by four parallel forums, representing teachers; university vice-chancellors; youth; and civil society and the private sector.
University vice-chancellors held their own forum for the first time at a Commonwealth education ministers meeting.
Ministers and delegates from the four forums and partner organisations met to discuss the theme ‘Education in the Commonwealth: Towards and Beyond Global Goals and Targets’.
Click here for final communiqué
The Youth Forum began five days earlier with a ‘Homestay’ programme in rural Malacca, where young people lived with local villagers and experienced at first-hand the rich tradition and culture of Malaysia.
The discussions of the parallel forums provided input into ministerial deliberations and included wide-ranging and diverse perspectives from across the 53-nation Commonwealth.
During the meeting, ministers reviewed progress in education across the Commonwealth in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) objectives. They noted:
· A mixed performance, within Commonwealth countries and globally
· That some countries have made significant progress towards achieving education MDGs, while others are falling behind
· 25 per cent of school age children are neither in primary nor secondary education in some Commonwealth countries.
Many Commonwealth small states have reached universal primary education and therefore are prioritising other issues affecting education such as gender equality issues of which boys’ underachievement is a particular issue.
In their communiqué, ministers expressed concern about the global economic downturn and the threat it poses to important social sectors such as education. They recognised that education provides a fundamental tool for self improvement and national development, and is a basic human right.
They affirmed the importance of maintaining resources, as well as aid commitments for education and for national governments and the international community to work together to mitigate risks in this sector.
Ministers also committed themselves to prioritising equity of access to quality education for all children regardless of geographical location, resources, gender and ability.
And they reaffirmed their commitment to achieving the MDGs and EFA goals by 2015, noting that one-third of Commonwealth countries have yet to achieve universal primary education and gender parity.
They agreed to prioritise the challenge of reaching some 27 million Commonwealth children who do not currently receive schooling and also to continue to work to eliminate gender disparities in education.
While stressing the importance of maintaining a focus on achieving education goals, ministers recognised the importance of preparing the groundwork for moving beyond these goals.
They concurred that education has a vital role to play in promoting a greater understanding of our rich, multiple identities and encouraging mutual respect, particularly pertinent in helping to prevent and resolve conflict.
During 17CCEM, the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan Endowment Fund was launched with £1.6 million contributions so far. More member governments were invited to consider adding to this 50th anniversary appeal.
Ministers also agreed to commence work towards establishing a Tertiary Education Facility in the Commonwealth. A final decision will be made at 18CCEM, based on experience over the next three years.
Ministers noted that consistent messages had emerged from the forum discussions, including:
· The need for partnerships at all levels
· The vital role of teachers and the need to provide them with necessary support structures
· The importance of youth involvement at all levels in policy dialogue and curriculum development
· The importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs), while noting that they could not replace first-hand experiences.
The next Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers will be held in The Bahamas in 2012.
Appreciate the work being done with such a need for all children to have an education, which we take for granted here. Indication that whilst ICT is relevant, first hand experience is important - learning from adult teachers and also inter-acting with other youngsters in a decent environment.