February 2, 2023
Distinguished Ministers of Education,
I greatly value your participation in this event of the South, to exchange views on challenges in matters of education of great importance for the developing world.
It is a high honor for Cuba, in our capacity as Chair of the G-77 + China in 2023, to have hosted this congress and provided a platform for exchange between our countries, more necessary today than ever.
One of the priorities of the Cuban chairmanship of this broad and representative universe of nations is to defend and promote universal access to lifelong, inclusive, evenhanded and high-quality education as a basic human right.
We are gathered in the context of a global, systemic and multidimensional crisis whose impacts are felt across the education sector and are magnified by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the application of unilateral coercive measures, the widening of social and economic inequalities, climate change and the enlarging of the digital gap, among other factors.
The Agenda 2030 objective of “leaving no-one behind” is very far from being met: 771 million young people and adults are illiterate, of whom two-thirds are women; worldwide, 258 million children and young people are without schooling; 70% of the nations assign less than 4% of GDP to education; while the gaps between the rich and poor countries in their education systems are widening.
Achieving sustainable development goal (SDG) 4 requires urgent reversal of this scenario. The imperative is to revolutionize education.
In this common endeavor, we reaffirm the leadership of UNESCO in this sphere and its role as coordinator and support of the countries in implementing the Education Agenda.
We also stress the key role of unity and coordination in the G-77 + China, in moving forward with an agenda that addresses the legitimate and historic claims of our countries in the sphere of education, and in forging strategic alliances that enable effective responses to future crisis situations.
International solidarity and cooperation must guide our path to 2030. It is the only way to make tangible progress in matters of education.
Mobilization of financial resources, technology, technical capacity, exchange of know-how, and South-South, North-South and triangular cooperation are all essential to progress by this route.
We reaffirm our decision to continue cooperating and contributing in every possible way, especially with the developing countries, in the pursuit of SDG 4.
Cuba’s Yo sí puedo adult literacy program, recipient of a UNESCO award, together with the efforts of thousands of our coworkers in the education sector worldwide, are a clear demonstration of the country’s will and political commitment to implementing the Education Agenda. We offer to make this literacy teaching method available to the G-77 countries.
On the strength of our G-77 chairmanship, we shall explore and progress by every possible route with the aim of activating these cooperation mechanisms, drawing on the vast experience of the South in matters of science, technology and innovation.
We are sure that the declaration resulting from this meeting will be a clarion call for the building of consensus and constructive thinking in matters of education.
Cuba can always be counted on, in this noble and necessary endeavor.