Message of UN Philippines Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez for the Launch of the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report

Mr. Gustavo Gonzalez says, "We commit to inclusive education because it enables every child, youth and adult to learn and fulfil their potential."

[Watch the video message here]

I am pleased to join you today at the launch of this very important report.

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”

This was said by Nelson Mandela time ago and it remains as an imperative. Particularly now, in a context of growing inequalities and uncertainties.

As we know, ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ as well as ‘lifelong learning for all’ are at the heart of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. They represent the major aspiration of the “Leaving No One Behind” principle.

However, we know that education opportunities continue to be unequally distributed across the world.

Even before COVID-19, one in five children, adolescents and youth were entirely excluded from education.

At the same time, stigma, stereotypes and discrimination make that millions of children and youths are further alienated inside classrooms.

Learners are excluded on account of gender, age, location, disability, ethnicity, language, religion, migration or displacement status, sexual orientation or gender identity expression, incarceration but, above all, poverty.

Social, economic and cultural factors may affect the achievement of equity and inclusion in education. This is also true for the Philippines, despite the country’s high completion rates for primary and secondary education.

We have to commend the Philippines for making  major progress towards inclusive education in recent decades. We have to also recognize that COVID-19 is also compromising hard-won development gains in the field of education.

We know that at least 2.3 million children have not enrolled for the current school year.

The rise in the school dropout rate is less due to the cost of tuition, than by poor families’ lack of gadgets and access to internet connectivity, which are required for online learning during the pandemic.

Only 17.7% of Philippine households have their own internet access at home according to the 2019 National ICT Household Survey.

In the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the decline in enrollment has been very high, at least, 30%.

The current COVID-19 crisis risks perpetuating these different forms of exclusion.

In this context, we commend UNESCO for its promotion of inclusive education systems, for example, the Alternative Learning System in partnership with the Philippines’ Department of Education that remove obstacles limiting the participation and achievement of all learners.

The UN is planning to reinforce its focus on the education and training system as part of its support to the COVID-19 recovery. In our new roadmap for addressing the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 in the country, we aim to contribute to providing quality education in the ‘new normal’ context.

We will do this by supporting the government and partners in promoting and implementing new educational norms, such as early childhood learning, non-formal and vocational and technical education, life skills training, and maximizing the use of affordable digital platforms and other distance education modalities.

I congratulate UNESCO and the Philippines Department of Education for organizing the launch today of UNESCO's “2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report on Inclusion and Education: All Means All,” which has brought together key education stakeholders from across the country to present and discuss  best practices and its implications to our education system.

We commit to inclusive education because it enables every child, youth and adult to learn and fulfil their potential.

Debating “inclusive education” is, fundamentally, debating human rights issue.

Thank you very much

Speech by
Author
Gustavo González
Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator
UN
Gustavo Gonzalez
UN entities involved in this initiative
UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization