The Rio+20 Education text

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I have finally gotten hold of the Rio+20 final text via the UN.  Whilst there are numerous references to education / training / capacity building in a wide range of contexts, there's also a section on Education as one of an eclectic range of thematic areas and cross-sectoral issues.  It come after Mining (and Mountains), but before Gender equality and women's empowerment.

It's all good stuff, no doubt, but is it innovative or Earth-changingly new?  Hardly.  Even extending the DESD had been widely trailed.   As to verbs (the weakness of which have been extensively noted by many commentators), I counted one "commit" (and a "reaffirm", and an implicit recommit) and that was about universal access to primary education.  Inevitably, there was more use of "encourage" as in – We strongly encourage educational institutions to consider adopting good practises in sustainability management ... .  And this is the point about the UNESCO, this is all it can do, most of the time.  Whilst it would be well, perhaps, not to over-egg the "achievements" pudding, there is much to do now that we have all this behind us (in both senses).

This is what the specific Education section says:

229. We reaffirm our commitments to the right to education and in this regard, we commit to strengthen international cooperation to achieve universal access to primary education, particularly for developing countries. We further reaffirm that full access to quality education at all levels is an essential condition for achieving sustainable development, poverty eradication, gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as human development, for the attainment of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals, as well as for the full participation of both women and men, in particular young people. In this regard, we stress the need for ensuring equal access to education for persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, local communities, ethnic minorities and people living in rural areas.

230. We recognize that the younger generations are the custodians of the future, as well as the need for better quality and access to education beyond the primary level. We therefore resolve to improve the capacity of our education systems to prepare people to pursue sustainable development, including through enhanced teacher training, the development of curricula around sustainability, the development of training programmes that prepare students for careers in fields related to sustainability, and more effective use of information and communication technologies to enhance learning outcomes. We call for enhanced cooperation among schools, communities and authorities in efforts to promote access to quality education at all levels.

231. We encourage Member States to promote Sustainable Development awareness among youth, inter alia, by promoting programmes for non-formal education in accordance with the goals of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

232. We emphasize the importance of greater international cooperation to improve access to education including through building and strengthening education infrastructure, increasing investment in education particularly investment to improve the quality of education for all in developing countries. We encourage international educational exchanges and partnerships, including the creation of fellowships and scholarships to help achieve global education goals.

233. We resolve to promote Education for Sustainable Development and to integrate sustainable development more actively into education beyond the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

234. We strongly encourage educational institutions to consider adopting good practises in sustainability management on their campuses and in their communities with the active participation of inter alia students, teachers, and local partners, and teaching sustainable development as an integrated component across disciplines.

235. We underscore the importance of supporting educational institutions, especially higher educational institutions in developing countries, to carry out research and innovation for sustainable development, including in the field of education, to develop quality and innovative programmes, including entrepreneurship and business skills training, professional, technical, vocational training and lifelong learning, geared to bridging skills gaps for advancing national sustainable development objectives.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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