My name is Thorkild Olesen, I’m coming from Denmark and I am part of the Board of Directors for the European Disability Forum. I represent the Constituency of Persons with Disabilities but I am here today to speak as a representative of civil society, as part of the UN ECE Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.
Education is the key tool to achieving Agenda 2030 and creating a more just and peaceful world beyond 2030. However, education needs to be available for all people, leaving no one behind. All children should have access to quality and inclusive education, including education to minority groups, children and youth with disabilities, migrants, children in conflicts. Universal access to education for all is the ultimate goal. Education should be comprehensive focusing on the development of the individual.
Learning about intercultural values and languages, including sign languages and other minority and indigenous languages should be promoted within and outside the school system so that communities can become places of social learning. The power of storytelling and positive stories of change should be better harnessed to inspire leadership for sustainable development.
Comprehensive sexual education is critical to eliminate gender stereotypes and transform unequal power relations as well as to ensure that young people, including youth with disabilities, can lead safe, healthy and productive lives, and have a comprehensive view that deals with comprehensive social aspects: gender literacy, LGBTI, to go beyond tabou.
Quality education includes significant changes to the way we learn. We need to develop teaching methodology that lead to understand systems interlinkages and that lead individuals to understand their own values and other values of the community. We must move away from top-down teaching methodology and include individuals as partners in the learning process. The role of teachers is changing, and we need to allow for skills development for teachers.
Finally we would like to reaffirm how SDG 4.7 is crucial: education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a
culture of peace and non-violence, education for global citizenship for disaster risk reduction should be systematically integrated to national policies and educational systems.
INTERVENTION OF SECOND SPEAKER: SIMON HERTELEER, pre-youth meeting
I have been asked to provide a brief intervention on behalf of the youth constituency at this forum as for my own constituency, YSAFE – the youth network of IPPF EN, involving young advocates and peer educators in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights.
My name is Simon and I am from Belgium. I have been in a privileged position for the entirety of my life. Yet it is this privilege that has led me to identify and strive to change the challenges that we, as a society are faced with in the field of education. Accessibility in the financial, linguistic, social, structural and individual realms remain a major challenge. The use of outdated educational frameworks that are not human rights based, do not include sustainability or even the possibility to learn about our own bodily autonomy through comprehensive sexuality education is a major hurdle to achieving SDG 4. The inherent exclusion and discrimination present in the system, where people with disabilities and from underserved groups – such as the roma community and individuals with a disability – are unable to be a part of the regular educational system, must be promptly addressed.
We must amend our educational system in content and in accessibility. It is necessary to offer accessible – if possible digital – alternatives. Integrate online learning platforms to regular education systems, allowing them to become reachable to communities throughout countries. Mainstreaming sustainability throughout the system and including self-determination as a core value is necessary. In order for this to happen, the inclusion of non-formal education and techniques within a formal system is necessary. It is necessary to incorporate international commitments, such as those made for sexual and reproductive health and rights under ICPD, which celebrates – as myself, its 25 year of existence. We must stop shaping individuals for the educational system but rather shape the system for the benefit of the individual.
Finally, it is imperative that we are honest when we implement the SDG agenda. We must be self-critical, look further than only numbers and statistics towards qualitative and maintainable solutions that reflect a will to leave no-one behind.