13 March 201722-24 February 2017 – UNESCO Almaty Office has gathered senior level officials, with a specially noted attendance of Minister of Education and Science of Kazakhstan and Vice-Minister of Education and Science of Kyrgyzstan, education specialists from international agencies, representatives of civil society and private sector at the Sub-Regional Meeting to propose solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) in Central Asia. SDG4 is a part of the “Sustainable Development Goals” agenda adopted by UN General Assembly in 2015, which focuses on quality education and aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The global programme “Education 2030” encourages governments, civil society, private sector and other actors to support sustainable development by achieving equal access to education, eliminating gender disparities, providing access to technical vocational education and training and so on.
The launch of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) during the meeting set the background for a compelling exchange of views among participants. Taya Owens from the GEM Report’s team at UNESCO Headquarters explained the linkages between the SDG4 and other sustainable development goals. Policy-makers from Central Asia expressed an interest in GEM indicators in order to improve national statistics and convert national data into global data.
Since 2015, UNESCO offices around the world have cooperated to build various networks, committees and working groups to support states’ efforts to develop better education systems. During the session on global and regional updates, colleagues from UNESCO Headquarters and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok emphasized that international and regional coordination mechanisms and partnerships on Education 2030 serve to develop capacities and support processes of the countries in Central Asia to achieve the SDG4.
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Mongolia have presented their experience and worked in groups to form strategies to achieve different SDG4 targets and developed preliminary action plans to achieve SDG4. To date, all states are currently engaged in review of education sector plans to accommodate Education 2030 programme. Furthermore, each country already implements SDG4 targets to a substantial degree and finds it feasible to achieve most targets by 2030.
Countries have also expressed some concerns, including a lack of access to certain levels of education and quality of higher education adult education. Participants have identified some paths of future policy action in education, such as SDG4 monitoring, advancing the teacher capacities, and transforming higher education and adult training. For instance, in regards to the latter, delegation of Kyrgyzstan headed by Deputy Minister of Education and Science Salydin Kaldybayev, has expressed the view that universal access to professional education will be achieved with the purpose of negating the gap between the workforce pool and the needs of the job market.
UNESCO Director Krista Pikkat surmises that the general focus of Central Asia should be on transforming education for the 21st century, promoting skills and competencies that support sustainable economic growth. There is a growing awareness of common interest in sustainable development and all partners now strive to strengthen cooperation in order to fulfill Education 2030 agenda.
Minister of Education and Science of Republic of Kazakhstan Erlan Sagadiev, and Secretary-General of the National Commission of Kazakhstan for UNESCO and ISESCO Assel Utegenova have thanked UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office and all participants for active cooperation and valuable work in regards to the fulfillment of the Education 2030 targets.
To summarise, the meeting has reviewed the status of the SDG4 implementation strategy in each country and clarified country priorities in education. Furthermore, it established the dynamic sub-regional network of policy specialists and education professionals to accelerate the implementation of Education 2030 in Central Asia. Moreover, it contributed to strengthening global, regional and national cooperation with other UN agencies such as UNICEF and UN Women and international organizations, including USAID, OSCE, Open Society Institute, OECD, British Council, European Union, Aga Khan Foundation, and DVV International. As a result of the meeting, participating countries have outlined next steps for advancing SDG4 execution and proceeded to the establishment of national coordination mechanisms, policy development and monitoring related to SDG4.
Concept note and meeting's programme agenda:
EXPRESS Ê (09.03.2017), «Lifelong learning»
KAZTAG (23.02.2017), «Kazakhstan needs to encourage English-speaking graduates to choose pedagogical higher education studies, – says expert»
Khabar (22.02.17), «5 000 Kazakhstani people will take the contemporary literacy tests»
Khabar 24 (23.02.17), «The literacy test will be taken by 5 000 Kazakhstani people»
KURSIV (24.02.2017), «Central-Asian states oriented towards transforming approach to education»
ZONAKZ (23.02.2017), «KZ English-speaking graduates need a stimuli to go to pedagogical higher education, – says UNESCO expert»