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“Culture Is the Soil in Which Education Must Grow”

An issue brief presented at the Fourth Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the “close nexus” of education and culture that should be understood as an opportunity to promote human rights, which includes cultural rights. According to the brief, education is a vehicle to transmit the culture of a particular society or social group as well as a means to develop global citizenship and respect for cultural diversity. Conversely, “…culture is the soil in which education must grow.” It serves as a vehicle for young generations to learn about themselves and can only flourish and develop through education. The brief emphasizes a rights-based approach to both education and culture.

A United Nations interagency Technical Support Team (TST), co-chaired by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the United Nations Development Program, created the issue brief to explore how education and culture should be included in Post-2015 Development Goals. It takes stock on the progress of education as a result of international initiatives, such as the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All, and recommends, in particular, that education should be an issue that cuts across all development goals, as well as an explicit education goal. Culture has only recently become a more integral part of the broader development debate. The issue brief points out that, five years ago, culture was mentioned in less than 30% of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) at the country level; now, it is mentioned in 70% of them. For the post-2015 development framework, it proposes that culture should be acknowledged as an enabler and driver of sustainable development.

The Fourth Session of the UNGA took place in June 2013 and is a part of a series of meetings for conceptualizing SDGs, the SDG process, and poverty eradication to inform the post-2015 development framework. The Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals is charged to issue a final report at the 68th U.N. General Assembly, which takes place on 25 September 2013. It comprises 30 members nominated by UN Member States.

 For More Information:

 TST Issue Brief: Education and Culture (full PDF)

Highlights from the Fourth Session of the Open Working Group (OWG) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (17-19 June 2013; Summary of meeting and issue brief downloads)

About the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (website)

UN Process for Coordinating the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda (PDF)