Between the 16th and 19th of September, OBESSU was present in New York City for the Transforming Education Summit in the run-up to the 77th General Assembly of the United Nations. The Summit convened as part of the Secretary-General's vision statement and is to co-create the UN Secretariat‘s approach to the global crisis of education within its advisory discretion. It was also the accompanying event to the official launching of the UN Youth Declaration.
The first day of the Summit – the Mobilisation Day – was entirely youth-led. It was on this occasion that the launch of the UN Youth Declaration was announced by our Board Member, Petr Franc. The Youth Declaration is a first-of-its-kind civil society declaration, and a catalogue of young peoples’ and students’ demands on transforming education, inspired by a vast input-gathering campaign, as well as a long series of national and international consultations of different scales and formats – both online and in person.
Throughout the second day, the Solutions Day, as countries’ officials were starting to be invited to the table to hear out the demands set forth the day before, it was stressed that the Summit itself cannot be the end of our efforts. On the contrary, it should kick-start them, especially since the very contents of it were brought up by students and youth. New York is only the beginning of our efforts.
On the final day, the Leaders’ Day, the Secretary-General’s Vision Statement was presented to Heads of State and Government at the UNGA Hall. Many high-stakes speakers took to the floor highlighting the necessity as well as the means of achieving SDG4. This was also the time for national statements of commitment to our cause.
Overall, the Transforming Education Summit does not merely confront some of us with the promise that our respective state representatives are going to deliver betterments because of a vow they took in New York. What is does is give all of us a helpful tool to demand changes ourselves, so that we can move toward a sustainable, inclusive, cost-free education accessible to all: the UN Youth Declaration is this tool, and OBESSU has been there throughout its drafting process, and made sure that it mentions and validates student representation in all its diversity as an important force in transforming education.
By Petr Franc, Board Member of OBESSU.