Written by Allison Anderson, nonresident fellow with the Center for Universal Education on the Brookings’ Education Plus Development blog.
“I recently spoke with Baela Raza Jamil, an education leader from Pakistan, about the complexities of the process of influencing the next global development agenda (commonly known as the post-2015 agenda). Baela is the coordinator of ASER Pakistan, the director of the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi Centre for Education and Consciousness, and on the Board of the Pakistan Coalition for Education. She shared insights from her recent experience influencing the post-2015 targets for education at the Global Education for All Meeting in Oman.
AA: From May 12-14, you participated in the Global Education for All Meeting (GEM). What was the purpose of this meeting?
BRJ: The goal of the GEM was to provide a global platform for dialogue and coordination on education development goals, including finalizing the education community’s goals, priorities and targets for education within the post-2015 global development agenda. Over 300 delegates from governments, development partners, civil society representatives and experts came together in the labyrinthine corridors of Al Bustan Palace Hotel in the beautiful city of Muscat, Oman. During the three days, which consisted of a ministerial meeting, a senior officials’ meeting and a forum of parallel sessions organized around the themes of increasing equity and inclusion, quality teaching and learning practices, and skills for life and work, the complexity of the post-2015 development agenda setting process was reinforced.
Informed by the previous work of the Education for All Steering Committee and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, I worked with old and new partners to influence the seven targets for the stand-alone education goal already proposed by the Education for All Steering Committee for the post-2015 education agenda: “Ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030.”
AA: Can you describe the participatory nature of the discussions and the ways in which you were able to ensure that voices from the global south were heard?
BRJ: It was participatory but with a definite pecking order. There are spaces, stages and association hierarchies to which one has to belong and which require sufficient funding in order to be present at the right place at the right time. Moreover, the post-2015 development agenda process has been dizzying, and its confusing chronology and parallel bodies, lobbies and platforms can leave one confounded. This makes the participation of many civil society leaders, particularly those from the global south who have limited funding and less access to information, more difficult. Thankfully organizations like the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, Save the Children, the Hewlett Foundation, Women Thrive Worldwide, the Global Campaign for Education, Dubai Cares, the Open Society Foundation and others are playing an important intermediary role to ensure the engagement of strategic civil society representatives to inform the process. As such, there was substantive civil society and technical expert input at the meeting; the challenge was that we were vying to influence many strategic areas within a short timeframe.”
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