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Regional Experts Meet Today and Debate: Post-2015 Global Education Development Agenda

09.05.2012

Bangkok, 9 May 2012 - Two key global development agendas, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) will come to their conclusion in 2015. Yet, there are many gaps still remaining and new challenges to confront.

In response, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok is holding a regional high-level expert meeting on 9-11 May 2012 to initiate discussions regarding the future of education for the Asia-Pacific region in the post 2015 era.

The three-day meeting in Bangkok will debate developments trends, gaps and challenges for education and will provide recommendations for the future of education in the Asia-Pacific. The meeting is being attended by high-level representatives and experts from research think tanks, ministries, UN and international development organizations, regional organizations, UNESCO National Commissions and NGOs. 

While education is central to many Asia-Pacific countries' development approaches and noticeable achievements have been made in the context of EFA, significant challenges remain. Enrolment in basic education has increased considerably; however, there are great disparities in access and quality between and within countries. 

Peoples from war-torn zones, remote communities, ethnic minorities and women still face difficulties accessing education. Youth and adult literacy has made considerable progress, but is still inadequate to meet needs of the 21st century in Asian and Pacific countries, and the region contains the largest number of illiterate adults of any region in the world. 

Over the past decade, the number of out-of-school children has declined by 39 million. However 40 per cent of those who remain out of school live in this region. Despite progress, this region is still home to almost two thirds (65 per cent) of the world's population of illiterate adults. 

South and West Asia alone had more than 400 million illiterate adults in 2009, accounting for over half of the world's total illiterate adult population. Countries have also become concerned with improving the quality of education, increasing access to post-basic education and to skills development, as well as improving learning environment.

In this context, Towards EFA 2015 and Beyond - Shaping a new Vision of Education provides the critical impetus to both assess achievements throughout the region and push forward to ensure the future vision of education will continue to spur positive growth and improved educational opportunities for all.

For UNESCO Bangkok Director Mr Gwang-Jo Kim, this is a challenging but important task for the experts attending. "This morning's presentations have already proven to challenge our perceptions about the future of education. I hope the experts will deliver recommendations that will, with support from our member states and other regional and global entities, provide an important backbone to discussions on the future of education in our region and beyond. This is challenging no doubt, but I have faith they can." 

For more information about the meeting click here, or contact Margarete Sachs-Israel at m.sachs-israel(at)unesco.org or Rachel McCarthy at r.mccarthy(at)unesco.org. 

This story was written by Rachel McCarthy, Education Policy and Reform (EPR) Unit, UNESCO Bangkok.