The Commonwealth Secretary-General has stressed the fundamental importance of education to the well-being and prosperity of people in member countries, and called for “radical rethinking and innovation”.
Patricia Scotland was speaking at the opening of a meeting of the Commonwealth Education Ministers Action Group (EMAG) at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London.
The meeting got underway as the UN held its first International Education Day.
“We are motivated by our understanding that, in addition to increasing economic growth and reducing poverty, quality education provides numerous other human development outcomes. These include health and well-being, community cohesion and a lower likelihood of conflict. They dramatically improve the sustainable socio-economic prospects for future generations,” said the Secretary-General.
EMAG plays a crucial role in providing strategic direction and guidance on education policy, which is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Secretary-General told delegates: “Since the first EMAG meeting was convened at Marlborough House three years ago, we have seen the tremendous value the Group adds by facilitating sustained action on mandates agreed at ministerial meetings, and by monitoring the progress being made collectively and individually by our member countries.”
The Secretary-General said the Commonwealth Secretariat had revisited its education programme, following the 2018 meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in London, and had drawn together five principal areas of focus - or pillars - under the heading ‘Learning for Life’. “This meeting is an occasion for members to reflect on the lessons learnt during the inaugural term of the EMAG, and to consider how the group can add value to the way in which we connect on education in the Commonwealth, and serve the collective and individual needs of all our member countries.
“By sharing experience, pooling knowledge and drawing on collective wisdom from our diverse yet connected traditions and contexts we are able to offer something very special – and this is the year of a connected Commonwealth,” she added.
Chair of the meeting, the honourable Rosy Akbar, minister of Education, Heritage and Arts from Fiji said: “Overall I am very pleased with the discussions we are having here today and the support that is being given to the Commonwealth countries by the Secretariat, partners and other stakeholders. As a chair I can say that this has been a very productive and collaborative approach to education. “