Education: The springboard to achieving the Global Goals

1200 youths from around the world came together at the UN Youth Forum in New York on 8 and 9 April 2019.  The annual Youth Forum focuses on participation of youth in civic, political, and economic life and sustainable development. 

“64 million young people are unemployed. Some 145 million young workers live in poverty and some 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills… If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, governments, civil society and international partners must scale up their investment in young people – ensuring they are educated, empowered and employed,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The two-day event featured regionally-based discussions and thematic breakout sessions on quality education (SDG4), decent work and economic growth (SDG8), reduced inequalities (SDG10), climate action (SDG13), and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16).

Victoria Ibiwoye, SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee Youth Representative, led the youth-driven interactive SDG4 session titled “You(th) Speak on Education”.  

“Inclusive education is a key driver of sustainable development, including for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and crucial for building peaceful sustainable and resilient societies. Yet, hundreds of millions of children and youth remain out of school or are not learning. Among the most vulnerable and marginalized, 61% of the world’s refugee children are out of school,” said Victoria Ibiwoye.

The SDG4 session highlighted the transformative power of education and called for action on:

  • The right to inclusive, equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all
  • Equitable opportunities for youth to acquire skills for work and life through formal, informal and non-formal education, both hard and soft skills
  • Access to quality and training opportunities, such as internships and volunteering for youth
  • Recognizing education, beyond economic returns, as an enabler for sustainable change and social progress
  • Recognizing qualifications, skills, and competencies of migrants, refugee and including them in education systems 
  • Providing teachers with training to address diversity and hardship  
  • Access to youth-friendly and rights-based comprehensive sexuality education
  • Mainstreaming human rights and global citizenship education to fight discrimination, xenophobia, and violence

“Policy-makers must invest more in young people’s education, skills and training. We need knowledge to contribute to peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies. In fact, the SDG 4 on quality education is the springboard to achieving the other SDGs,” said Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC at the closing session of the Youth Forum.

The outcome report of the Youth Forum will inform the discussions of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July, the HLPF SDG Summit in September 2019 and its Presidential Declaration. The Declaration, to be adopted by Heads of State and Government, will provide political guidance on accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. 

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