On 29 April 2017, the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO jointly organized an expert meeting on the theme of Citizen Participation in Achieving Inclusive, Quality and Continuous Education in celebration of the 2017 Global Action Week for Education (GAWE).
GAWE is an international annual campaign led by the Global Campaign for Education, with support from UNESCO, to raise awareness on the importance of education for achieving sustainability and the commitments made by all to reach the global education goal by 2030.
This year’s theme of Accountability for SDG4 and Citizen Participation highlighted the importance of participatory governance for delivering on the full SDG4 agenda.
From 23to 29 April 2017, the GAWE campaign promoted the vital role of citizen participation in education policy making and monitoring progress.
The expert meeting brought together representatives from government, the diplomatic community, civil society, academia, UN agencies, and the private sector.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Ali Zarafshan, Vice-Minister for Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education (MOE) underscored that MOE should not be the only entity responsible for education. “In Chapter 6 of the Fundamental Reform Document of Education of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is mentioned that the participation and accountability of citizens, families, the private sector, national and local authorities, and the media should be reinforced and institutionalized,” said Mr. Zarafshan.
Mr. Zarafshan also quoted from the UNESCO publication Rethinking Education: Toward a global common good?, pointing out that “the educational landscape has changed considerably and is now characterized by an increasing involvement of non-state actors, including for-profit organizations”.
Dr. Sadollah Nasiri Gheydari, Secretary General of the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO emphasized the importance of increasing teacher salaries as well as attracting the best and the brightest to the teaching profession as effective strategies to achieve global peace and prevent conflict.
In addition, Dr. Nasiri stressed that “the Education for All (EFA) agenda was not achieved by 2015. In order to meet the new education goal by 2030, an additional USD 22 billion per year and 69 million teachers are needed. These figures are not much compared to the military spending of most countries. Only then can we address the learning needs of the 758 million illiterates in the world.”
Delivering introductory remarks on behalf of Ms. Esther Kuisch Laroche, Director and Representative of UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office, Ms. Mary Anne Therese Manuson, Education Consultant, said that “as a shared societal endeavor, education implies an inclusive process of public policy formulation and implementation. Civil society, teachers and educators, the private sector, communities, families, youth and children all have important roles in realizing the right to quality education.”
The expert meeting provided a platform for non-state actors, particularly civil society organizations and private sector firms, to showcase their promising practices in expanding access and participation for disadvantaged learners in both formal and non-formal education contexts.
The meeting featured thematic sessions on education financing; the role of NGOs in providing education opportunities to vulnerable populations; and promoting quality and continuous education.
The event served as a timely forum for the exchange of experiences and networking among exemplary Iranian non-state stakeholders who are actively participating in and sharing accountability for advancing inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities in the Islamic Republic of Iran.