July 28, 2021 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones underscored three crucial factors in setting international and regional benchmarks for the Sustainable Development Goal (SGD) 2030 indicators to monitor the real progress of member states in UNESCO’s 2021 Global Education Meeting (GEM).

In the Ministerial Segment of 2021 GEM on July 13, Secretary Briones noted that national policies, financing, and efforts at the regional level should be taken into account in establishing relevant benchmarking indicators.

“We have to look at the legal framework because countries, which are now being benchmarked according to comparative standards, are not necessarily similar in the legal framework, especially in the role of the head of the state who manages the struggle against COVID,” the education chief stated.

“The matter of financing is crucial and for the past 50 years, we’ve been talking about financing development. And, we have not found a solution, particularly for middle and lower-income countries. Benchmarking can be influenced by the availability of financing,” she continued.

Sec. Briones also pointed out that the Philippines implemented a blended learning approach similar to other countries in Southeast Asia and developed a learning continuity plan to address the challenges in education amid the pandemic.

Briones was one of over 80 education representatives and advocates worldwide who attended the 2021 GEM Ministerial Segment and reaffirmed their commitment to improving international cooperation among the education sector.

Meanwhile, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay cited a survey covering 142 countries that reveals the worsening educational gaps due to the pandemic: inequality of learning access, high female school dropout rates, and budget gap.

She also mentioned that 11 million people in the world could fall below the reading skills threshold, and it would take 11 years for 23 member-states of the organization to catch up.

Azoulay stressed the need to improve global cooperation mechanism between the countries by promoting evidence-based policy formulation and implementation, enhancing collection and availability of data, and driving financing mobilization and better spending.

With the subtitle “from recovery to accelerating SDG 4 progress,” the 2021 GEM Ministerial Segment was organized by UNESCO together with the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee.