Deputy PM Richards promotes Reform Agenda at World Education Forum 2015

Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — Education reforms in St. Kitts and Nevis are projected to continue with a renewed sense of commitment influenced by the pursuit of Education For All (EFA) Goals outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Hon. Shawn Richards, supported by Dr. David Doyle, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Ambassador to UNESCO engaged in these discussions at the Education Ministerial Conference being held as part of the UNESCO-sponsored World Education Forum (WEF) 2015 running for May 19-22 in Incheon, South Korea.

Education ministers from 140 countries reportedly attended the conference designed to evaluate the progress of the EFA goals and highlight best practices and lessons learned in order to formulate a proposed 2030 education agenda. They were joined by some 1,500 participants at WEF 2015 including education authorities, experts and high ranking officials from education-related international organizations from across the 154 member states of the United Nations. Speakers at the event included U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim and UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova.

While reflecting on the positive interactions, Deputy Prime Minister Richards said “we found much commonality amongst ministers in our government’s pledge to develop life-long employable skills for young men in St. Kitts and Nevis via a robust Technical and Vocational Training regime. Our TVET thrust is shared by many UN member states, and much was discussed at the high level event WEF2015, where we could point to the need for such a regime to enable young, disenfranchised men to be integrated into the mainstream jobs market,” he outlined.

While in South Korea, Deputy Prime Minister Richards had a one-on-one meeting with Hwang Woo-yae, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education. Appreciation was expressed for the country’s support to the federation which included a recent gift of school material and equipment and a commitment of further technical assistance in teaching instruments in science and music.

Minister Richards also had private discussions with Qian Tang, the Assistant Director General for Education, UNESCO, and underlined the continuing importance of the ongoing UNESCO review into the Federation’s education policy and strategy. The results of the UNESCO study, covering curriculum, governance, teacher training will be presented to the government in July this year.

Ambassador Doyle, who is based in Paris, galvanized a number of Small Island Developing State ministers attending WEF2015 in proposing amendments to the Ministers Declaration to incorporate SIDS in the future strategic plan for global education.

“The Declaration further strengthens the work we are pursuing at UNESCO in developing a dedicated, focused Action Plan for small island developing states, like St. Kitts and Nevis. It was an opportunity we could not miss while attending such a high-level ministerial meeting in South Korea,” he noted.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards summed up his attendance at the ministerial event, by saying: “it is important that St. Kitts and Nevis’ voice is heard at such high-level meetings, in particular, in articulating our special needs as one of the 38 SIDS members to the UN.”

The forum adopted the Incheon Declaration and Incheon Framework for Action, which will “show the direction and strategic plan for global education for the next 15 years,” according to officials. The framework includes goals such as: ensuring opportunities for equal primary and secondary education, increasing the number of adults with occupational skills, eradicating gender discrimination in education, and supplying affordable and accessible higher education.

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