UNESCO Official Shahbaz Khan: education is a basic human right, and China is a great example

(wydf.org.cn)   13:07, July 30, 2022

BEIJING, July 24(China Youth Daily)“The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to leave no one behind. We need to respond effectively to the vision, needs and aspirations of the youth for their collective empowerment.” said Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Office, in the Thematic Forum for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education.

Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Beijing Office, delivered a speech in the Thematic Forum for the Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education on July 23. Photo: LI Junhui/China Youth Daily

Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the UN 2030 Agenda says that countries must ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all, to build a world that is just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive, in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met. As Khan put in his speech, education can help build inclusive societies, when it sees learner diversity not as a problem but as a challenge to identify individual talent in all its shapes and forms, and create conditions in which it can flourish.

In an exclusive interview with China Youth Daily, Khan explained what “inclusive and equitable quality education” means in his view. He stressed that every child has a right to education and that education is a basic human right. “To me, that is inclusive equitable and quality (education).” he said.

What should be the standards for inclusive and equitable quality education to be achieved? Khan’s answer was “having no discrimination in any form because of their ethnic, origin or gender, providing them with the access to books and quality teachers, and making sure that education is as good whether they are from a rural part, from an urban part or from an island”. For example, Children in rural areas should have access to teachers as capable as their urban counterparts, and access to facilities and books as urban children. “Everybody should be treated equal and given the same kind of chance to have education which can transform their lives. ”

Khan learned in the forum about Project Hope, one of the most widely participated and influential public welfare projects in China. As he has observed, now the achievements of China in the primary education and the middle education are moving all the way to higher education. In general, the Chinese universities “are doing a wonderful job”, and some of them even “rank top in the world”.

For more than 20 years, Khan has witnessed the booming development which took place in China. In his view, China is a great example not only for the other developing counries to follow, but also to achieve the SDGs proposed by the United Nations. “First of all, China has achieved its targets about literacy much earlier than any country else. Also very importantly, China has moved very fast towards the targets which are sustainable development goals.” Among all the 17 SDGs, “China has achieved a very important target of ‘no poverty’, and that's only possible by educating the people.”

UNESCO and China are close partners in the area of education, and China is one of the largest contributors to UNESCO programs. As a UNESCO official, Khan was pleased to see the linkages between China and other countries in the field of education. “I believe today’s event is a good starting point initiated by the All-China Youth Federation to establish a solid platform for dialogue, and to engage constructively with the youth.”

The Thematic Forum for Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education was organized by the China Youth Development Foundation. It was one of the four sub-forums of the World Youth Development Forum, which was hosted by the All-China Youth Federation.

Reporting by HU Wenli

(editor: Hou Qianqian)

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