This year, the Global Campaign for Education’s Global Action Week for Education is asking citizens and governments alike to Stand Up for Education by ensuring accountability for Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) and enabling active citizen participation.
2015 saw the culmination of years of discussion, negotiation and campaigning for a Sustainable Development Goal to achieve quality education for all - , which should be equitable, inclusive and free. Two years later, it is time for governments to prove they are working towards this goal – it is time to deliver.
What is Global Action Week for Education?
Global Action Week for Education is one of the key moments for the education movement. Created 14 years ago and led by the Global Campaign for Education, it provides an opportunity for citizens and activists to publicly demand action from their government for achieving the right to education, and to make a targeted effort to achieve change on the ground, with the added support of millions of members of the public worldwide.
Slow progress in reaching the education goal
Despite the good intentions of certain governments, and the strong efforts by civil society to hold them to account, the current global socio-political environment is hampering efforts to deliver on the commitments made in SDG4.
The challenges facing civil society campaigners are manifold, including: countries facing serious protracted conflicts and those experiencing the rise of populist movements, the election of leaders advocating for conservative and business-friendly public policy and the slashing of budget allocations both for education and for aid.
At the same time, the voice of civil society is finding itself stifled.
Yet education underpins many of the SDGs and is also crucial to achieving other rights - commitments to education should not and cannot be ignored.
Despite these challenging contexts, civil society must find new ways to respond to the growing threats and continue to hold governments to account for the commitment they made to ensure the right to a quality, publicly financed and equitable education for all.
This might mean challenging legal and regulatory restrictions, advocating for more and better education funding, or demanding the protection of civil society independence and space. As education activists we commit to working with the public at large, as well influencing our elected officials.
Global Action Week offers an opportunity to do just that by inciting individuals and organizations to mobilize their networks, constituents, and friends to take part, and sharing the results with other education campaigners worldwide to strengthen our voice and champion the same cause.
GCE’s regional and national education coalition members will be running a host of different activities.
In Latin America, the Argentinian coalition, Campaña Argentina por el Derecho a la Educación, is working in alliance with teachers’ unions and other organizations and movements on the platform “For more and better education”.
In Mexico, Incidencia Civil en la Educación is hosting a national meeting in the Senate on the assessment of SDG4.
In the Middle East, the Yemen Coalition for Education For All aims to collect 100,000 signatures demanding that the government and international organizations fulfill their promises concerning the implementation of SDG4.
The Iraqi Coalition for Education is hosting a radio program, a discussion on the development of education policies in Iraq, and a workshop with NGOs on SDG4.
The Palestine Coalition for Education has organized activities across several regions, including a roundtable with parliamentary blocs and members of the Education Committee in the Legislative Council to discuss their role in accountability for SDG4.
The Rwandan Education For All Coalition will hold a roundtable with stakeholders, and a press conference.
This is just a snapshot; from Denmark to Madagascar, Lebanon to Colombia, a vast array of activities is being planned.
Education needs more financing
It is critical to remember, that insufficient financing is one of the main obstacles to ensuring the successful implementation of SDG4. Any commitment already made to education, and commitments made at national, regional or international level, must include realistic and reliable plans for their financing - donor governments and developing countries alike must put their money where their mouths are.
Many national coalitions are including clear financing targets as part of their demand for governments to stand up for education, and this includes pledges that are to be made to the Global Partnership for Education, which recently launched its GPE replenishment 2020 campaign, a critical moment to resource this global fund for education, so it has enough financing to continue supporting developing country governments’ own efforts to achieve the SDG4 goal in their own countries.
Governments are not the only parties which must be held to account. Embedded in both the SDGs and the Education 2030 Framework for Action is the accountability of citizens to take an active role in supporting the delivery of these commitments. After all, the right to education is our right – and when that right is being denied to so many, we must stand in solidarity and raise our voices for theirs.
By asking that citizens worldwide Stand Up for Education, the Global Campaign for Education and its members are mobilizing millions of people as part of that accountability, and asking them to tell their governments that it is time to deliver.