Today’s event in Paris, dedicated to the role of education as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, comes in a time of great need and hardship for so many of the children and youth of this world that need education almost as much as they need access to water, food, and shelter.
Even the future success of UN Sustainable Development Goals, as a whole, is threatened by the sheer number of people that can’t access any form of education.
As a member of Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Committees of the European Parliament, I can clearly say that any future plan regarding vast regions of this world, must put at their very basis, the education goal.
After seven years lost in Syria – and this is not the title of a movie but a dull description of the reality – it is clear that for the people there and in the countless refugees camps, waiting for “pacification” and “security” to start thinking about education is not a solution anymore. They need it now as much they need peace and security.
Anyone that is denied, for so long, access to education, has also a denied future. This brings anger, desperation, and alienation.
How can we think of successful sustainable development when hundreds of millions have problems in securing even their basic needs?
How can we think of successful sustainable development when so many countries, unfortunately placed exactly in the areas that are the hardest hit by the effects of climatic changes, are troubled by conflicts and insecurity?
In a world that moves so fast, where not only the goods and services markets are globalised but the jobs market also, access to education is needed today, not tomorrow.
I am convinced that failing to do so means that today, instead of planting the seeds of future development we are planting the seeds of future, endless problems.
It is our duty to take this message further, to expose it everywhere there are ears that can listen but also where ears seem to be deaf to such arguments. Especially there we must double, triple our efforts.
My experience in the European Parliament has shown me that we have success models and examples that can be replicated all over the world.
We have the examples in Europe and many other corners of the world, where countries are successful today due to their educational investments from yesterday.
There are countries that lack almost any natural resources or strategic position on the map. But still are successful and their people live good and meaningful lives.
Education is the key and this is not a well-kept secret but something that can be copied by everyone.
European Union is doing a great job in terms of education for its citizens. It is also one of the top donors – the biggest actually for some parts of the world – for programs that support education and help children and young people to return to schools and have a school where to return to.
Maybe we are not so successful in advertising this work and effort. This doesn’t make it smaller or less effective.
But maybe it must be put into light more so it can be an example for so many others that are capable to support this effort. To be seen more even by those that it is addressed to, so they can understand that there is hope, they have friends and help is coming.
The keynote speakers of this high level UNESCO event, Madame Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General and H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Founder of the Education Above All Foundation and UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education are both deeply involved in the implementation of Education 2030 Agenda, an essential part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
I was particularly impressed by Madame Audrey Azoulay contribution to the protection of cultural heritage for the future generations, especially those places threatened by the war destructions. It gives me hope and it is a lesson for everyone. By personal example and implication can be achieved so much!
Also, H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser work together with the Education Above All Foundation in providing quality education to children everywhere is simply amazing and is an undeniable proof of Qatar’s long-term commitment to support UNESCO’s activity and make education accessible to those that need it the most – the children. The agreement signed with UNESCO today, in Paris, will bring education to 150- thousand more out-of-school children in the Middle East and Asia. This is a very direct and concrete example of personal involvement and the positive results it can generate.
The messages and examples from today’s event in Paris must be taken further and spread to all those that must listen to them.