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17 Jun 2013

Education and the Sustainable Development Goals: Open Working Group Discussion Today - 17th June

By Karen Mundy, University of Toronto and CIES.

The intergovernmental Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) called for in the Rio+20 Outcome Document will convene its fourth meeting on 17-19 June 2013.

On Monday June 17th at 3pm (EDT) (BST 8pm) I’ll be in New York to share with the UN Open Working Group what I believe should be in the new SDGs for education post-2015…

Here is what I am going to say:

1. Lets “lean in” on education equity – and make sure our global goals recognize that education is a right.  We have excellent evidence that in order for societies grow and prosper in peace, learning must be spread widely and equitably (to quote my colleague Keith Lewin). We cannot afford to leave anyone behind.

2. We need a clear target for global finance: measurable commitments that ensure no one is excluded, particularly from a full cycle of basic education – by gender, ethnicity, poverty, disability, state failure or geography.

3. Don’t drop a goal for youth and adult literacy: after all, more than 250 million school aged kids around the world are not learning to read and write even if they are in school — and this generation will be grown ups soon.  And there are still over 700 million adults without literacy worldwide.

4. Fewer prescriptions – and more peer learning and evidence based interventionThis includes better monitoring of inequality within systems so we can know where to place our energies. And no “gimmicks” – lets face it private schools can’t close the gap in public financing, and commitment to a broad and just social compact just can’t be replaced by market -like incentives and competition.

5. And from my friend and former Deputy Minister of Education here in Ontario, Ben Levin:  there are no magic bullets – to get where we want to go will require consistent, thoughtful work, using what we know, relentlessly over time.

I will be on UN TV at 3 pm on Monday – and my slide deck will be up on UN OWG website.

>>See also the UN OWG on SDGs Technical Support Team Brief on Education and Culture.

Karen Mundy is an Associate Dean, Research OISE, University of Toronto, and Vice President, Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). Email:

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