This Joint Advocacy for Education Campaign comes at the right time on the right issue.
India has made tremendous advances to meet the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals as well as the objectives of Education for All. The country has increased the participation of children in primary and secondary education, notably through the launch of The Right to Education Act in 2009. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Programme has been a flagship initiative to universalize elementary education across the country.
The new government led by H. E. Narendra Modi has doubled down on these commitments, launching a mass campaign to “Save the Daughter, Teach the Daughter.” The new leadership is betting on the transformative power of education – starting with girls and with across-the-board skills development for a ‘Skilled India.’
So much has been achieved, but sizeable challenges remain and more can be done – especially to reduce inequalities to make this fundamental right accessible to all, through special measures to reach the most disadvantaged and excluded children. We can do more also to break the barriers between formal education and skills development, to tap the full power of India’s greatest resource – the energy of its young population.
Access for all is essential for social cohesion and inclusive development, but we must also focus on improving the quality of education, to nurture the innovation and creativity India and all societies need for the century ahead. This must include education to foster new values and behaviours for global solidarity, to empower every girl and boy to shape positive change.
Linked with this campaign, access, quality and global citizenship are objectives at the heart of the Global Education First Initiative, launched two years ago by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, and steered forward by UNESCO, to accelerate progress across the world and shape an ambitious new education agenda to follow 2015.
UNESCO will continue to support the Government and society of India in every way to achieve their goals. In this spirit, I wish every success to this campaign and thank the United Nations Country Team for its leadership.