What are E9 countries?
Minister of State for Education Sanjay Shamrao Dhotre attended a consultation meeting of Education Ministers of E9 countries on the theme 'E9 initiative: Scaling up digital learning to accelerate progress towards SDG4' on 6 April 2021. Education Minister of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, Amina Mohammed, Education Ministers from the E9 countries and officials from the United Nations, UNICEF and UNESCO attended the meeting.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Education Sanjay Dhotre stated that through diverse modes like digital, television and radio, the Government of India not only ensured quality education for all but also ensured that the students do not lose an academic year. He further stated that amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education successfully conducted the largest entrance exams of India's premier engineering and medical courses for almost 2.3 million students, setting an example for other countries to reflect upon for safe conduct of the examination.
One Nation-One Digital Platform -DIKSHA, One Nation-One Channel programme of -SWAYAM PRABHA, SWAYAM MOOCS and radio broadcasting were used to ensure education in the remotest parts of India. He underscored that now is the time to work collectively and in solidarity to create an efficient ecosystem for digital education.
The consultation was the first of a three-phased process to co-create an initiative on digital learning and skills, targetting marginalised children and youth, especially girls. It aims to accelerate recovery and advance the Sustainable Development Goal 4 agenda by driving rapid change in education systems in three of the 2020 Global Education Meeting priorities-- support to teachers, investment in skills and narrowing the digital divide.
2020 GEM Declaration
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the condition of the education system worldwide, prompting the deployment of digital learning. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Global Education Meeting Declaration identified five key areas which required urgent action. These are as follows:
1- Education financing
2- Safe school reopening
3- Supporting teachers as frontline workers
4- Investment in skills
5- Narrowing the digital divide
About E9 countries
E9 is a forum of nine countries, namely Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan that aims at achieving the goals of UNESCO's Education For All (EFA) initiative. These countries represent more than half of the world's population and 70% of the world's illiterate adults.
At the EFA Summit in New Delhi, the E9 initiative was launched in 1993. The partnership is aimed at working towards the achievement of SDG4-Education 2030.
What is the SDG4 Agenda?
In 2015, the United Nations (UN) member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 17 goals and 169 targets are listed to be achieved by the year 2030. It is to be noted that SDGs are not legally binding.
Education For All (EFA)
It is an international initiative that was first launched at the World Conference on Education for All by international organizations-- UNESCO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank-- in Thailand in the year 1990. The nations endorsed an 'expanded vision of learning' and pledged to universalize primary education and reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade. However, many countries were still lagging behind in achieving the said goal.
Therefore, a broad coalition of governments, civil society groups, and development agencies met again in Dakar, Senegal, and affirmed the commitment to achieving EFA by the year 2015. Also, six key education goals were identified to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.