At last month's Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared the stage with Western Union President Hikmet Ersek, Nigerian Minister of Communication Technology Omobola Johnson, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, during an hour-long panel entitled, "The Global Education Imperative."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon participants to strengthen efforts to achieve global targets related to education and health, stressing the importance of building a better future for all. He noted that progress in this critical field has stalled in recent years, which was the impetus for his recently launched Education First Initiative.
According to the Secretary-General, education has the power to transform lives, give people hope, confidence, and dignity, and equip them with knowledge and skills to escape poverty. He said he believes that education should be a top priority of the global political and development agendas, and that that is not an option, but rather an imperative.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim spoke about the significance of investing early in education. “We should put our best teachers in the first grade”, he said. “This is a critical period.” He emphasized the importance of imparting a high-quality education, and spoke of the situation in several developing countries, where despite enrollment rates of above 90 percent, there is a high dropout rate because parents believe that their children do not learn in school. “Parents are very rational, they have to see that the education is good and their kids are advancing and there are going to be opportunities for them going forward.” Kim's comments highlighted the pillars of the World Bank's education strategy, which focuses not just on helping young people go to school, but also on making sure that they learn.
Click here to watch the entire video of the hour-long panel and read a synopsis of the discussion. Also, read a related story on the Global Education First Initiative website and the Secretary-General's full remarks.