Antônio Cruz/Agência Brasil

G20 and education: CLADE’s fight for adequate resources for this right

February 7, 2019

Activists from Latin America and the Caribbean promoted actions of advocacy, mobilization and communication in the context of the G20, making the world’s largest economies recognize education as an essential human right to promote development with inclusion, prosperity and peace

The right to education, along with several other relevant issues such as gender equality and financial inclusion, was 1 of the 31 points on the final declaration of the G20 Summit, held on November 30 and December 1, 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina For the first time in its history, the group that brings together the world’s largest economies – including Latin American countries Argentina, Brazil and Mexico – included educational policies on its agenda.

“Access to education is a human right and a strategic field of public policies for the development of more inclusive, prosperous and peaceful societies,” says the G20 Final Declaration.

This mention of education as a right is an advance and a conquest of civil society within the G20. The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE), in partnership with the World Campaign for Education, the Argentine Campaign for the Right to Education, the National Campaign for the Right to Education in Brazil and the Popular Education Council of Latin America and the Caribbean (CEAAL) in Mexico, had promoted, from April to December 2018, actions of political advocacy, combined with mobilizations through social network and the media, to pressure these states into reaffirm a commitment to guarantee public education systems, free and inclusive, as established by the 2030 Education Agenda.

These networks also pointed out that it is difficult for these States to secure the necessary financial resources to strengthen public education systems with quality and inclusion without clear measures to promote tax justice. As such, the mention on the importance of tax justice in the declaration of G20 leaders is also to be celebrated.

However, the document lacked a stronger commitment in order to guarantee fair and adequate public financing for educational policies. This was a demand from CLADE and its members raised to representatives of the States of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Ministerial Meetings that were held prior to the G20 Leaders Summit – in September 2018 in Mendoza, Argentina. These contributions and many others, regarding inclusion, tax justice, equity, gender equality and access and school permanence for all, were presented by CLADE and other organizations in the dialogues of the C20, the space for civil society participation in the G20, which brought these proposals to the Group’s authorities.

Document delivered by the CLADE to Ministers of Education and Employment of the G20: in Spanish | in English

Document of the C20 with recommendations to the authorities of the G20, with the contributions from CLADE (in English)

As a result, at the G20 Ministerial Meeting on Education, held on September 5, the present authorities reaffirmed their commitment to comply with the 2030 Education Agenda and the guarantee of quality, equitable and inclusive education.

The declaration of this ministerial meeting (available in Spanish) emphasizes that policies towards gender equality in education are fundamental for the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and that teachers must be given knowledge, skills, values and attitudes free of gender stereotypes so that all of them develop to reach their full potential. In addition, it points out that the implementation of these policies requires adequate financing.

Despite accepting a large part of the demands presented by CLADE and its members, the ministerial declaration does not delve into some of the concerns of civil society, for example, the commitment of States with the guarantee of free public education systems, and tax justice as a way to ensure national and sustainable public budgets for education. Other parts of the declaration, in turn, generate concern because they defend educational management “by results”, which could open the way for the targeting of investments in “efficient” educational policies, according to the resources that are “available”, to the detriment of parameters for educational financing with quality for all people, that put rights above results and develop in dialogue with civil society.

By its turn, the final declaration of G20 leaders left out an express commitment to combat tax evasion, the end of harmful tax incentives and the implementation of progressive tax reforms. Generating resources from these measures would be a more rational option compared to the current spending cuts for education, health, social assistance and other rights in the region, justified by the need to control public accounts and overcome the economic crisis.

Meanwhile, the challenges for education in the region are many, and require the progressive increase of resources for the area. In Brazil, 2.8 million children and adolescents are out of school – equivalent to 5% of the people in that age group. In Mexico, 1/3 of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17 do not attend school, and in Argentina, only in the province of Buenos Aires, over 450 schools are closed due to the poor state of the buildings.

Despite the persistence of these obstacles, there is a great reduction of resources for education and other social rights, resulting from fiscal adjustment policies implemented in Argentina and Brazil. In the latter country, Constitutional Amendment 95/2016 has frozen public expenditure on health, education and social assistance for 20 years. In Argentina, the adjustment of expenditures that the national government projected for 2019 will affect all initial, basic and secondary education programs, leading to a real drop in investments in infrastructure and school equipment of 77%.On the other hand, Mexico lives a hopeful moment with its new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Nonetheless, the country’s civil society ought to be watchful to demand that the promises made during the campaign to significantly increase public investment in education are fulfilled.

The G20 and the regional conjuncture, therefore, leave a lesson and a way forward: the CLADE network and its members shall continue to promote actions at the regional and national levels, urging governments to assume and fulfill steady and credible commitments to the educational financing. Otherwise, it will not be possible to fulfill the SDG number 4, regarding to education.

CLADE’s regional mobilization: Financing the Fair! For a free public education for all

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