UN chief warns education becoming ‘great divider’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. — AFP/File
  • The UN Secretary-General has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on learning.
  • “Education is in deep crisis. Instead of becoming the great enabler, education is increasingly becoming the great divide,” Guterres says.
  • Guterres has urged all countries to prioritize increasing spending per student, even amid question marks over the global economy.

United Nations, United States: Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Gutierrez warned on Monday that unequal education was increasingly dividing the planet as it sought to put development on the agenda ahead of a week of diplomacy focused on global crises.

gave The head of the United Nations A special summit on education convened a day before world leaders convene for the annual General Assembly, although several key officials, including US President Joe Biden, delayed their arrival in New York due to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.

“Education is in a deep crisis,” Guterres told the summit, saying that instead of becoming the great enabler, education is increasingly becoming the great divide.

He warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on learning, with poor students lacking technology at a particular disadvantage, and conflicts further disrupting schools.

Guterres urged all countries to prioritize increasing per-student spending despite question marks over the global economy.

In a report earlier this month, the United Nations Development Program said that COVID has set back human progress by five years.

Guterres also called out the Taliban in Afghanistan, who have put more than a million teenage girls out of education since the group took power in August 2021.

“I appeal to the Afghan authorities: immediately remove all restrictions on girls’ access to secondary education,” he said.

Speaking at the summit, Somaya Farooqui, who was part of Afghanistan’s famous girls’ robotics team, said the Taliban were “slowly erasing our existence in society.”

“Thousands of girls may never return to school. Many are married off. Promises to reopen schools have come and gone,” he said.

Appealing to world leaders, he said, “You must not forget those who are left behind, those who are not lucky in school.”

“Show your solidarity with me and millions of Afghan girls.”

Diplomacy on Ukraine, Iran

The U.N. General Assembly — with its epic traffic and protests jamming midtown Manhattan — is back in person two years after the pandemic, with leaders having to show up if they want to speak.

The General Assembly voted in favor of only one exception – for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is leading the resistance against the Russian invasion.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov flew to New York for the summit, where he heard a plea from his French counterpart Catherine Colonnade on Monday to allow a security zone outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which Moscow has seized, raising concerns. has given birth to

Also high on the United Nations agenda this week will be Iran, whose president Ibrahim Raisi is traveling to the General Assembly for the first time.

In a US television interview ahead of his arrival, Raisi said Iran wanted “guarantees” before returning to the nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump scrapped in 2018.

“We cannot trust the Americans because of the behavior we have already seen from them. So if there is no guarantee, there is no trust,” he said. CBS News’ “60 Minutes” program.

Biden supports a rollback of the 2015 deal, under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear program in exchange for promises of sanctions relief.

But the Biden administration says it’s impossible in the American system to promise what a future president will do.

Colonna said French President Emmanuel Macron could meet Raisi in hopes of making progress.

But he warned, “There is no better offer for Iran.”

“It’s up to them to decide.”

Raisi can expect to be hit by protests during his visit, including from exile groups who have called for his arrest over the mass executions of opponents a decade after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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