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Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Opens UNESCO’s Milestone Education Event, Makes a Case for Considerable Long-term Social Returns  

Paris, France, Wednesday 29 June 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio, serving as Co-Chair of the SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee, HLSC, today opened the milestone event for education alongside UNESCO’s Director-General, Madame Audrey Azoulay, and made a case for long-term returns.

“Education is a driving force for sustainable development. It is a powerful lever for responding to some of the most pressing challenges faced by humanity, including climate change, migration, youth unemployment, healthcare, and peaceful and just societies,” he noted.

He emphasised that the most vulnerable, most marginalised, and most disadvantaged learners would count on the committee to deliver on implementing SDG 4, which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.

“It is my great pleasure to open this milestone event for education alongside the UNESCO Director-General, Madame Audrey Azoulay. I thank her for UNESCO’s exemplary leadership and tireless efforts in advancing Sustainable Development Goals. I count on the full support of each and every one of you. As Co-Chair of the SDG4 High-Level Steering Committee, I wish to assure you that the Steering Committee stands ready to fully support, monitor, and carry forward the impetus created by the Summit,” he said.

When he addressed a separate SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee meeting earlier in the day, President Bio made a case for recognising the considerable long-term social returns of education.

“Let me also recall that beyond the September Summit, the HLSC is expected to play a leadership role in ensuring that we maintain the impetus for education and diligently monitor progress. Thus, we will hold ourselves accountable for the actual delivery of all commitments made.

“Let us use the momentum from this Pre-Summit to push for every learner to acquire the necessary skills to navigate an increasingly complex, fast-moving world; master his or her own destiny; and, become a responsible global citizen. I count on your unconditional support to convey this message of urgency to the highest political levels,” he stated.

Delivering a statement, Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, also Co-Chair of the HLSC said that the pre-summit had given everyone a great opportunity to share their experiences, talk about priorities and set a joint cause. She thanked President Bio for accepting to co-chair the HLSC with UNESCO.

“Education is a public good. It is delicate and fragile but the best possible investment we can make,” she said.

The Transforming Education Pre-Summit, being organised at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Headquarters, on 28‐30 June 2022, seeks to harness the evolving discussions on transforming education, elaborate initial content and establish a shared vision while suggesting actions and generating greater momentum ahead of the actual summit in September.

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