Education Must Be Top Priority in Pandemic Response, Recovery, Deputy Secretary-General Stresses at Global Forum

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Deputy Secretary-General

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Global Education Forum, in New York today:

It is a pleasure to join the Forum for its second meeting, albeit virtually. We have come together at yet another truly critical moment for education and for all the Sustainable Development Goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world and has made the task of achieving the Goals even harder than before. This is clearly the case in the area of education. The prescription for suppressing the health crisis has a huge side effect on education, taking millions of children out of school. As the Secretary-General warned last month, without an ambitious global response, a learning crisis could turn into a learning catastrophe.

At the same time, this emergency has also made the Sustainable Development Goals more urgent than ever and it has made transformation — such as the full reimagining of education — more possible than ever before. Already, we have changed the way we work more dramatically, and more rapidly, than was commonly thought possible. Surely, then, we can do the same in other fields.

We have a great challenge in front of us, but let’s be clear: We know what we need to do. We have the tools and the partners to get the job done. It starts by making sure that education is a top priority in the pandemic response and recovery spending in national budgets and international investments. I am heartened to see the efforts by multilateral and bilateral members of the Forum working together in a more coordinated fashion to meet this imperative and close the huge financing gap we face. It is more important than ever that we maintain investments in education, and that every dollar invested leads to the maximum possible impact especially for our girls.

But we must do even more than that. The Save Our Future White Paper provides a comprehensive road map for education in the recovery and across the Decade of Action, building on the Secretary-General’s policy brief released last month. I commend all involved for bringing the education sector together around this direction of travel.

I strongly encourage this Forum to turn the White Paper’s recommendations into action. A key opportunity is to ensure the current plans at country level, responding to country priorities in this crisis and supported by the United Nations, are included. And I very much look forward to further discussion at the Global Education Meeting in October building on the momentum of this meeting for urgent action in education. Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.