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UN Forum To Advance Education In Asia-Pacific

Legislators Gather At UN Forum To Advance Education In Asia-Pacific Region

New York, Oct 24 2008 1:10PM

Parliamentarians from across Asia and the Pacific are meeting today at a United Nations gathering in Jakarta to address education needs in the region, which, although experiencing rapid progress since 2000, remains home to nearly 28 million children and over 500 million illiterate adults.

The two-day meeting, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will focus on the role of parliamentarians, given their influence as decision-makers, in advancing the goal of “education for all,” the pledge made by world leaders in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, in 1999.

“They can hold their governments to account for the commitments they have made and press for policies that ensure that access to quality basic educational services for all is a national priority,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.

At the legislative level, parliamentarians can ensure that governments have ratified core human rights treaties and that domestic laws and policies enshrine the right to education.

They can also press for enforcement of these laws and initiate legislation to eliminate discrimination in education, as well as call on governments to allocate larger portions of the national budgets to basic education.

“As elected representatives, parliamentarians must use their voice to make the case for basic education,” said Nicholas Burnett, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education. “They must ensure that policies are geared to improving access to education and the quality of learning, especially for the most disadvantaged groups and underserved regions.”

Participants at the two-day meeting, which will feature special sessions organized by UNESCO on teachers, literacy, gender and sustainable development, will be able to share their countries’ success stories and good practices in the field of education.

They will also launch the Forum of Asia Pacific Parliamentarians for Education (FASPPED), which aims to raise awareness among legislators about educational challenges in the region.

In addition, the Forum will highlight strategies to improve the quality of education, and associate them more closely in the planning and implementation of educational policies in the context of the Education for All (EFA) initiative and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to achieve universal access to education.

UNESCO has organized similar meetings in Africa (2002) and the Arab States (2007), and a future gathering is foreseen for Latin America and the Caribbean.

ENDS

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