BM 66 – Quality higher education in the post-2015 development agenda

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In the year 2000, world leaders adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with the aim at reducing inequalities and poverty in the world. Significant progress has been made to reduce inequalities. However, this is progress is still insufficient and unevenly distributed. The implementation period of the MDGs is coming to an end at the end of the year 2015. Efforts to reduce inequalities must be continued and this will be defined by the post-2015 development agenda.

Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda have mobilized numerous actors around the world, especially the youth. Indeed, the youth of today will be implementing the goals to reduce inequalities and poverty and will live with the consequences of it.

1,4 billion people live in extreme poverty according to the United Nations and 87% of the youth population aged from 15 to 25 lives in developing countries. Of those, women are disproportionately affected. 31 million young women are out of school and women represent two thirds of the world’s illiterate population. The quality and accessibility of education has a direct impact on youth and supports a more inclusive role of women in the society.

It was already acknowledged in the MDGs that education is a key driver in reducing inequalities and poverty. However, the focus was put on the primary education level only.

The European Students’ Union stresses the need to talk about education at all levels and considers higher education to be key in reducing inequalities and poverty, but also key to have active citizens in society later. Democracy, an active participation of the civil society and a knowledge-based society are the best measures to overcome inequalities and poverty.

It is paramount to include goals for expanding inclusive higher education in the next round of the millennium goals in education. Parameters and targets should aim at expanding the capacity of higher education and increase diversity within the student body, such as among genders, rural/urban backgrounds, ethnic minorities and indigenous populations.

In order to overcome inequalities and poverty, higher education should follow these core principles:

–    Establish a strong and representative student participation;

–    Follow a learning and teaching system based on student centred learning;
–    Implement education systems that are inclusive and norm-critical;
–    Establish quality higher education.


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