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Education First for Sustainable Development: GCE President Camilla Croso represents civil society at high-level UN event

CP3DwwtWwAA0Ne6The UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative’s (GEFI) high-level event, #EducationFirst for Sustainable Development, saw Malala Yousafzai, Gordon Brown, Kailash Satyarthi and other global champions of education call for the recognition of education as the bedrock of sustainability, against the backdrop of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit.

GCE, as a member of the GEFI Steering Committee, was represented by President Camilla Croso. Camilla spoke regarding the fundamental need for recognition of education as central to the delivery of all human rights, and identified that much more must be done to tackle the most marginalised - including girls, people with disabilities, older persons and children living in and fleeing from conflict zones (see below for full text of the speech).

Civil society was also represented by Education International President, Susan Hopgood, who focused on the need to value teachers, so that they are able to fulfil their potential to be change agents for the students they support and teach.


In line with GCE's own call for education beyond 2015, the event made a call to action for world leaders to learn from the achievements and challenges of the last fifteen years, issues by the GEFI Youth Advocacy Group and the UN Youth Envoy.

Camilla Croso, President, Global Campaign for Education

Global Education First Initiative Speech

26 September 2015

It’s a pleasure to be with you at this important Global Education First event, an Initiative of which we have the honour to be a part. Among its key achievements, we highlight the increased visibility and the political weight given to education within the UN, which has been vital in the development process of the Sustainable Development Goals.

We celebrate the adoption of an agenda committed to dignity and the fulfilment of human rights. It is an accomplishment of multilateralism and the dialogue between actors and sectors, in which civil society has actively participated, and played a central role.

For the education community, not only do we celebrate education as a standalone goal among the SDGs, but that it is increasingly recognized as key to the fulfilment of all other rights. In the coming years, we must deepen the intersectoral dialogue and work at national, regional and international levels.

Goal 4 reflects a broad perspective of education: it places at the forefront free education; emphasises inclusion, quality education and the valuing of teachers; it highlights that the right starts at early childhood and includes adults and older persons; it recognizes the importance of safe environments and demands human rights and global citizenship education.

Education for global citizenship has been championed by GEFI and its members, and rightly so. The inequalities, discrimination and conflicts that are currently taking place show that we need education systems that promote peace, democratic relations and human rights all over the world.

Now that we have adopted the Agenda we must concentrate on the challenges ahead. Amongst them, we underline an increased need for financing, the realisation of free primary and secondary education, an alert to the risks of the commodification of education, the valuing of teachers, and delivering education for global citizenship.

Moving forward, education systems must address the necessary pedagogy and processes which lead to critical thinking and environmental awareness; they must consider how to overcome all forms of violence in educational contexts – and in particular violence and discrmination based on gender identity and sexuality. Indeed, it is the most marginalised that education systems must place at centre stage -  those with disabilities, learners in prison, migrants, refugees and the displaced.

The viability of this education agenda depends to a large extent on a commited defense of the right of citizens to participate, which is so necessary to the exercise of democracy.  Tackling the obstacle of the right of civil society to participation continues to be a central challenge. In particular, the criminilization of social protest and of human rights defenders, including activists and organisations, students and teachers that defend the right to education.

Central for us is an education that ensures all human rights!

Download the speech in Spanish, French, Arabic and Portuguese.