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International Initiatives and Programs
ACEI enjoys Consultative Status at the United Nations and membership in the NGO Committee on UNICEF. ACEI UN representatives attend UN Department of Public Information (DPI) conferences and briefings, participate in Working Groups and advocacy efforts related to education and child development, and attend annual conferences sponsored by the Committee on Teaching About the United Nations (CTAUN). Here, ACEI UN Representative Elisabeth Shuman offers some information about UN initiatives of particular interest to our community.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon launched the Global Education First Initiative (www.globaleducationfirst.org) in September 2012 to "put education on top of the development agenda" by targeting three priorities: promoting better equity in access to education, improving the quality of learning, and promoting global citizenship. Describing education as "the basic building block for healthy societies," the Secretary-General has placed it at the top of his agenda for the remainder of his term in office. He has called on all governments to also give education a high priority in their legislative and budget processes, and has enlisted help from the private sector in support of these efforts.
Journeys to School
In a related program, the photo exhibit "Journeys to School" opened at the New York UN Headquarters on 4 March 2013. The photos on display illustrate different challenges faced by children and adolescents around the world as they travel to school and exercise their right to education. Some students must walk through dangerous areas, some reach school by boat, and some have to deal with a disability. One of the photos shows a student from the Bronx High School of Science in New York City, who has to travel by bus for over two hours each way. She says her education is well worth the inconvenience and adds, "I don't think my transportation is that difficult compared to children living in conflict zones." The exhibit serves to show the resilience of children and their parents, and the value of education as a powerful transformative force.
The World We Want
In 2000, all Member States of the United Nations agreed to work toward improving the lives of the world's most disadvantaged. They agreed to a set of clearly defined and measurable goals, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to be reached by the year 2015 (see www.un.org/millenniumgoals). While some of the goals have already been reached and some will be reached by 2015, others will remain important targets and results will vary in different areas around the world. Still, there is consensus that a measurable and time-bound development framework is helpful, and so the Secretary-General appointed a panel of experts to develop a new global framework to replace the MDGs when they expire in 2015. In order to address the needs of as broad a segment as possible, input is sought from all people in all countries to help shape the new framework. The World We Want initiative, co-led by the UN and civil society, provides a politically recognized mechanism for millions of people to get involved in shaping the next set of development goals, based on the priorities of people closest to the problems. You can find out more about the Consultation at www.worldwewant2015.org/sitemap.
UN Tours for Children
As of February 2013, the UN now offers tours specifically tailored for the elementary grades. For more information, and to book a tour, go to http://visit.un.org/wcm/content/site/visitors/lang/en/home/tours_ticket/children