UNICEF stresses need to put children first at Central Asian education forum
Children should be at the top of the development agenda and sound social policies should encourage investment in their education, health and provision of other services, officials from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) stressed today at the opening of a Central Asian education forum in Turkmenistan.
The three-day forum, held in the capital Ashgabat, is being attended by education and other officials from the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as by representatives from UNICEF and other UN and international organizations, the Fund said in a news release.
The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Moving Forward to Achieve EFA (Education for All) Goals’ and, in her opening address, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director Shanaz Kianian-Firouzgar underscored the valuable role that the annual event has played with respect to commitments made by Central Asian governments at the UN Millennium Summit and the Dakar World Education Forum.
“This Forum also helps us to look forward and agree on what we need to do in order to ensure that the six goals which we seek to achieve for this region will be realised by 2015,” Ms. Kianian-Firouzgar said.
She also challenged the delegations to look at four critical issues concerning basic education in the region, including provision of pre-school education, promotion of inclusive education and child-friendly learning environments, provision of quality education and development of relevant curricula and textbooks and other learning materials.
The theme of investing in education was also echoed by UNICEF Representative and Acting UN Resident Coordinator Mahboob Shareef who called upon Central Asian education officials to reiterate their “commitment to place children on top of the development agenda and at the centre of all available resources and programmes.”
The event is being attended by 100 participants and is the first time it has been held in Turkmenistan.