A global call for investing in the future of education
By President Dr Hage Geingob.
Many often say that education is the greatest equaliser. It is only through education as a public good that I, the son of a farmworker at a white-owned farm can become the President of Namibia, and the daughter of a cleaner, a medical doctor.
Many of us here come from different socio-economic backgrounds. However, we have one common denominator, Education.
Indeed, what we have in common here makes this High-Level Segment of the 2021 Global Education Meeting under the theme: “Invest in education – global mobilization for COVID-19 recovery and the futures of education,” a very important and timely gathering. Therefore, I would like to thank UNESCO and the Government of France for convening this meeting in Paris, the international capital of education.
COVID-19, the invisible enemy, which has led to untold devastation, has eroded some of the gains we have made in making the goal of education for all a reality. Moreover, this invisible enemy has exacerbated inequalities within and between countries, creating tensions, which if not addressed could lead to instability. For that reason, we should reaffirm our commitment to doing what is right by working towards more inclusive societies through education.
Since Independence in 1990, Namibia has continued to invest a high percentage of its national budget in education, which makes the education sector the largest recipient of the allocated funds from the Government.
In the last year alone, the Namibian Government spent 28% of total Government expenditure on education. This is above the 15-20% threshold aspiration we seek through this meeting.
More importantly, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown, the Namibian Government rolled out a stimulus package to public and private educational institutions to strengthen ICT infrastructure, including bandwidth for online teaching and learning.
In order to reach the objective of a fairer society, which is consistent with the 2030 Goals, the Namibian Government will endeavour to do more to deliver efficient, qualitative and equitable educational services to those living in remote areas, particularly women, girls and other vulnerable groups.
I am an eternal optimist and do believe that we should maintain the momentum and continue investing in education as a key enabler for a shared global post-COVID-19 economic recovery. To do so effectively and to ensure that no one is left behind as part of Sustainable Development Goal 4, we should strengthen multilateral, multi stakeholder and cross-sectoral cooperation. Education is not a commodity. We should reaffirm education as a public good, which is vital in building sustainable and inclusive societies.
Today is therefore significant for the adoption of the Paris Declaration, which further underscores our commitment to a Global Partnership for Education.
Education remains our best bet for a fairer and better world. In that vein, Namibia supports fully the Paris Declaration’s call for investing in education for the future of humanity and our planet.