Think Global’s Membership and Public Affairs Manager, Rebecca Sharkey on recent meetings at Parliament which discussed the importance of global learning.
On 13 September, the day that the Brexit EU Withdrawal Bill was being debated in Parliament, it was heartening that so many MPs took the time to attend a meeting held by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Global Education for All. The main speakers were Julia Gillard (Former Prime Minister of Australia and Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education) and Muzoon Almellehan (Syrian refugee, education activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador).
It was fantastic to see young British Campaign Champions from the Send My Friend to School Project speak eloquently from the panel about the importance of quality education for all. In the context of Think Global’s focus on global learning in the UK, I was particularly pleased to hear both Emily Thornberry MP and Stephen Twigg MP praise these young people’s engagement, and highlight the importance and positive impact of giving young people in the UK opportunities to engage in global learning. As Emily Thornberry said, global learning can help young people value their own education and to understand their place in the world and in their own diverse communities.
The importance of the SDGs and Goal 4: Quality Education for All
The previous week in Parliament, I represented Think Global to hear from Achim Steiner, Head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at a meeting organised by Bond. Mr Steiner spoke of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the need for unprecedented global cooperation and solidarity between nations and peoples in order to deliver on this ambitious agenda. He argued that 2015 was a historic year for profound and transformative collective approaches to global problems: not only were the SDGs agreed, but twenty years of talks finally resulted in the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s not easy to agree these collective international approaches, and it’s up to all of us to make the most of them in how we respond in our own countries and communities. Mr Steiner went on to say how pleased he is to see the SDGs being adopted as a framework for action not just by parliaments and at regional/mayoral level, but also by NGOs and increasingly by the corporate sector.
Frontbench Labour MP Liz McInnes asked a question about SDG 4: Quality Education for All. She explained how a primary school in her constituency actively engages its students in global learning, and each year invites her to an event promoting the rights of children everywhere to decent schooling. She asked the question: “How can the international community hope to achieve SDG 4 by 2030, especially when schools are being closed in areas of conflict?” Mr Steiner responded by suggesting that governments should realise the return on investment when it comes to education, which in so many cases is a budgetary or financial issue for them. He warned of the danger of patronising young people, as if they are not capable of engaging with global issues saying
give young people the chance to engage and they will push the agenda on SDGs”.
The UN, he said, is determined to keep education at the top of its agenda, and to emphasise that achieving SDG 4 will help enormously towards the implementation of a number of other Global Goals.
Thanks to the organisers and speakers of both meetings. We all need to work to keep global learning and SDG4 on the agenda, and stress its enormous value both to learners in other countries and to our own young people here in the UK.
By Think Global’s Membership and Public Affairs Manager, Rebecca Sharkey