Post-2015 development agenda in October 2014: Empty pages?/ Photo: Stock.xhng

Lifelong learning will be a global development goal

Interview. Although negotiations are under way, we already know something of the post-2015 agenda. Lifelong learning is set to become a global goal.

29.10.2014

Multilateral negotiations, working groups, NGO lobbies…These are all part and parcel of the post-2015 process, aiming to produce a post-2015 development agenda. But what about the agenda itself at this very moment? Is the agenda empty?

New York-based Serge Kapto works for the United Nations Development Programme as Policy Specialist.

Mr Kapto, are there some things on the post-2015 agenda that countries already have agreed?

Even though the United Nations member states are yet to agree on the content of the agenda, it is hardly empty. Throughout their negotiations so far, governments have re-committed themselves to achieving the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The overarching goal of poverty eradication, which is at the core of the MDGs remains a central tenet of the new development agenda. Without pre-empting the coming negotiations among diplomats, it is reasonable to assume that important issues such as child and maternal health, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability among others, will be part of the final agenda.

When will we have the first concrete results, i.e. the first agreements on the agenda?

The UN General Assembly mandated the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals to develop a proposal for the new development agenda. The Group, which is composed of 70 countries, concluded its work in July and submitted its Outcome Document to the General Assembly. The Outcome Document contains 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals. It cannot yet be qualified as an agreement, but the Open Working Group proposal represents the current state of consensus among United Nations member states. It will serve as “the main basis for integrating sustainable development goals into the post-2015 development agenda”, which governments will further negotiate over the coming months.

What does the post-2015 process mean for education?

The post-2015 development agenda will most likely renew and expand commitments to universal education. In its Outcome Document, the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals proposes a dedicated goal on education: “Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”.

Where MDG2 focused on primary education, the current SDG proposal also includes early childhood education and care, secondary and tertiary education, and vocational training. The proposed goal calls for equal access to education for all, and for the elimination of gender disparities and other forms of discrimination in accessing education services. It addresses one of the shortcomings of MDG2, by calling not only for universal education, but also emphasizing quality education at all levels.

Three quick ones – In this series we take issue with a topical phenomenon with three well-targeted questions.