Dubai: Drawing the world’s attention to the current state of the global education ecosystem, RewirEd Summit, held at Expo 2020 Dubai, concluded today in the presence of Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Under the theme of ‘Education Financing’, the agenda for the third day featured a series of major announcements, discussions and programme launches that are set to accelerate the transformation of education systems globally.
Over 2,000 participants attended the Summit in person, as 450 speakers from 60 countries contributed to a packed agenda of high-level panels, sessions and discussions.
Five Presidents and 45 ministers from around the world attended the summit and underscored the urgency to adopt new and innovative approaches to deliver quality education globally. They also praised the UAE for being a role model for other countries in delivering quality education, as the country had immediately implemented distance learning across all public and private schools and higher education institutions, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emphasising the importance of collective responsibility in addressing the global education crisis, His Excellency Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares urged world leaders to seize this unique opportunity to deliver on their promise to expand their support to education.
As part of his closing remarks, Dr. Al Gurg said: “We conclude the Summit today, with an aim to implement key solutions that we hope will reinstate that same foundation, and more importantly, make it stronger and more resilient for the future. From issues to solutions, from challenges to opportunities, from the past to the future … the journey of the RewirEd Summit has been marked by our shared commitment to reclaiming the powerful and transformational role of education in empowering young lives, enabling sustainable progress, and elevating the whole of humanity.”
World leaders call for urgent global action to finance education
The final day kicked off with a high-level opening panel titled “Education – An Investment for a Sustainable and Prosperous Future for All”. The panel featured high-level speakers including Gordon Brown, the UN’s Special Envoy for Education and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Her Excellency Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Indonesia; Filippo Grandi, the UNHCR High-Commissioner, and other leaders from the international community, who called for immediate collective action to finance education systems around the world, especially under the disruptive conditions imposed by the global pandemic.
The Rt Hon Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, said, “We are at a critical turning point. We know the scale of the damage from COVID-19. Millions of pupils’ learning time has been lost. Two thirds of countries are cutting education budgets; we are creating an unparalleled crisis. Countries must see education as indispensable. Education spending should be treated as an investment; it is an investment in the future.”
Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High-Commissioner, said: “The pandemic threatens to reverse the important gains we have all made. It is critical that we do not forget forcibly displaced children and youth who aspire for better opportunities. $4.85 billion is required to ensure that all refugees have access to a quality education. This is a relatively small investment to ensure they have access to a more equitable world. The time to double our investments in education is upon us. Now it is time to invest in a future that is prosperous, sustainable and innovative for all.”
Amir Abdulla, Deputy Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP), said: “Costs should not be borne by the education sector alone. Everyone needs to be around the table. We have to support the learning and the learner. We need to shout this from the rooftops of Dubai; we have to think about the learning and the learner. We need to connect all sectors so that no child goes to school hungry; school health and nutrition should also feature prominently here.”
RewirEd Declaration on Connectivity for Education, providing a framework for action and investment
One of the key announcements on day three of the Summit was the launch of the RewirEd Declaration on Connectivity for Education. Developed by UNESCO in partnership with Dubai Cares, the Declaration provides a framework to ensure that connected technology better supports the right to education, drawing on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reflects the inputs of a 22-person expert advisory group and a global consultation process involving governments, civil society, youth, teachers, researchers, private sector organisations, and other stakeholder groups to put forward principles and commitments to establish directions and priorities for the digital transformation of education.
In addition, the Declaration asserts that the educational changes accompanying the integration of new technology, far from being inevitable or outside our control, can be steered with focused policies, actions, regulations, and incentives.
Commenting on the launch of the Declaration, Dr. Al Gurg, said: “For us at Dubai Cares, the launch of this Declaration will go down in the organisation’s history as a truly defining moment that reinforces our evolution as an organisation that has come a long way from being primarily focused on grant making, to an active global player and voice mobilising meaningful partnerships and alliances for a better world.”
In addition, the agenda included a high-level panel on “Building Forward from Covid-19: Financing the Education Recovery and the Future Education for the Most Vulnerable Children.” Featuring key thinkers and practitioners, this session reflected on innovative financing of the recovery and the future, such as how education financing can work in order to be effective in instituting the changes needed for global reform.
The agenda also included insightful sessions on funding Evidence for Education in Emergencies and strengthening shared standards for Education in Emergencies. Other sessions included a thought-provoking debate on “Rewiring Higher Education and Open Learning in the Arab World”.
The last day also included meaningful and engaging participation from key speakers including HE Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya; Filippo Grandi, UNHCR High-Commissioner; Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General, United Nations; Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO; Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner, International Partnerships, European Commission; HE Prof. Alpha T. Wurie, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Republic of Sierra Leone; HE Dr. Mwigulu Nchemba, Minister of Finance, Tanzania; HE Dr. Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education, Cambodia; HE Joyce Ndalichako, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Tanzania; Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA); HE Harjit Sajjan, Minster of International Development, Canada; HE Daryll Matthew, Minister of Education, Antigua and Barbuda; HE Antti Kurvinen, Minister of Science and Culture, Finland.
The outcomes of the RewirEd Summit will inform the UN Summit on the Transformation of Education that will take place in the second half of September 2022.