I thank Gordon Brown for his introduction and commend his work as UN Special Envoy for Global Education. Education is a priority of my second term. Progress has stalled in recent years. This is why I launched Global Education First last September. Education must be a top priority of the global political and development agendas. As the title of this session says, this is not an option, but an imperative.
First, education empowers people and transforms lives. None of us here could ever imagine what our lives and those of our children would be without education. Education gives people hope, confidence and dignity. It equips them with knowledge and skills to escape poverty. It saves lives and reduces the spread of preventable diseases.
Second, education fosters economic growth. Every dollar spent in quality education generates strong positive returns for our global economy. With unemployment rising so dramatically, we need, more than ever, to invest in relevant education. Many jobseekers do not have the skills that new jobs need. We can not afford a “lost generation”.
Third, education is the foundation for a more peaceful and sustainable future. By influencing people’s attitudes and behaviours, education is a key channel for better mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for each other and our planet.
The three priorities of Global Education First are:. First, to put every child in school. Second, to improve the quality of learning. Third, to foster global citizenship.
As a schoolboy in South Korea, after the war, our class was under a tree with few supplies. But we had a passion to learn and get a better life. Education made me who I am today. It made my dreams come true. I want every child and young person to have the same opportunity as I had.
This is what we aim to achieve with the Global Education First initiative. We have already rallied a strong coalition of partners, and I count on all of you to work with us to meet our global education targets.