10 key education events in and around the UN General Assembly

Children in conflicts, Education funding, Education in emergencies, Girls' education, Up for School or #upforschool campaign

The annual United Nations General Assembly is in full swing and the world’s leaders are discussing a new set of global goals to end poverty and give everyone a life of dignity.

Education is at the heart of many of the themes being debated. Here’s your handy guide to 10 education-related events happening in and around the UN General Assembly in New York over the next few days.




Here they are – 17 of them, with 169 targets. Replacing the Millennium Development Goals set in 2000, they are an agenda to end poverty, promote prosperity and help people’s wellbeing – while protecting the planet. The new global goals will be agreed at UNGA and the 15-year plan will kick in at the start of 2016.

SDG4 is Quality Education – “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” That’s a wider remit than the MDG2 of universal primary education. In fact, there are 10 separate targets within SDG4 – including free, quality primary and secondary education; eliminating gender disparities; and ensuring that all youth are literate and numerate.

But education is at the heart of all of the SDGs. It is key to health and economic interventions and for teaching people about protecting the environment. Read more about the SDGs here.



An amazing moment and the culmination of a year of hard work across the world. Singer, songwriter and campaigner Shakira handed in the #UpForSchool Petition to UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown.

Contained in the special book were an incredible 10 MILLION signatures from people in more than 200 countries – all calling on world leaders to keep their promise to get every child into school. Shakira said: “We need the commitment of leaders around the world and we need them to put children’s education at the top of their agendas. Universal access to education is the only way to secure a more stable and prosperous world.”

The hand-in was also witnessed by Benedict Joson from the Philippines and Dawnique Shury from Guyana – two of A World at School’s 500 Global Youth Ambassadors who did so much to promote the campaign and gather signatures. 




The Global Citizen Festival will be held in New York’s Central Park on September 26 – featuring such big-name music acts as Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay. But behind the showbiz is the Global Citizens campaign to end extreme poverty by 2030.

One of the key themes is education for every child. Global Citizen says: “Educated and healthy children will lead their communities out of poverty and build the thriving nations of tomorrow.” Read more about Global Citizens’ education goals here.





The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2015 Annual Meeting says it “will bring members together from across the world to translate good ideas into real results on the ground”. Speakers include global business figures Richard Branson, Ursula Burns, Bill Gates and Jack Ma.

One of CGI’s many education commitments is shown in the graphic above. The initiative has nine “tracks” in 2015 – one of them being Education and Workforce Development. CGI members in this track discuss efforts to build effective education systems – ranging from early childhood education to work-ready skills programmes – while exploring how education can provide the knowledge and skills necessary for people to lead healthy, satisfying and productive lives.



(September 26)


The UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative is a five-year programme launched in 2012 to accelerate progress towards the Education For All goals – including UN agencies, NGOs and business institutions.

GEFI is holding an event at the UN headquarters titled #EducationFirst for Sustainable Development, featuring joint Nobel Peace Prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, as well as several of A World at School’s Global Youth Ambassadors.

It will highlight education as the catalyst for realising every one of the 17 SDGs. Speakers include Gordon Brown, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova and Peng Liyuan, First Lady of China and UNESCO Special Envoy for the Advancement of Girls and Women’s Education.



(September 27-28)


A two-day conference examining the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. The theme, #2030NOW, asks the question: “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

Panellists include Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, actor Cherlize Theron and children’s and women’s rights campaigner Graca Machel. The session titled “The next chapter in global education” will be moderated by Sarah Brown, Executive Chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education. More details here.




The amazing success of the world’s biggest education petition will be marked at the #UpForSchool Town Hall event – back in New York where the campaign was launched one year ago.

The #UpForSchool Petition has been signed by 10 million people across the world – from international leaders and celebrities to young activists and local communities.

One of the many highlights of this dynamic gathering will be a powerful video called Rise (watch it above) made by Steve Nguyen, the Vietnamese-American director, writer and film producer who has helped to spread the #UpForSchool message. It tells the story of three of A World at School’s network of 500 Global Youth Ambassadors in 85 countries.





The Global Business Coalition for Education (GBC-Education) is hosting the Education Breakfast and Roundtable on Education in Emergencies

The ongoing conflict in Syria, the violence in South Sudan, the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal and the lingering impact of Ebola are examples of emergencies that have left millions of children and youth out of school or in poor learning environments.

This year’s annual breakfast will be devoted to how the business sector and international partners can drive forward the policy, advocacy and delivery needed so that education is a priority during emergencies and opportunity is unlocked for the millions of young people whose futures are in jeopardy.




Global Education Platform Director Adam Braun will be convening a #Tech4Ed discussion to identify and accelerate global innovations for learning through technology.

Through several #Tech4Ed forums, GBC-Education has convened technology entrepreneurs, business leaders, global development experts and educators to identify how technology can be used to deliver learning opportunities for the most marginalised youth.

The Global Education Platform initiative works with companies, governments and NGO’s that are employing innovative models of educational delivery, with a focus on feature phones and low-cost smartphones.


(September 29)


Five former prime ministers and presidents and three Nobel Prize winners are among 20 world leaders who will sit on the new International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity to review the future of global education.

The commission is supported by the government of Norway and Prime Minister Erna Solberg (pictured above, signing the #UpForSchool Petition) and will be chaired by Gordon Brown.

It will examine how to reverse the lack of financing for education around the world, which has left 124 million young people out of school and hundreds of millions without quality learning opportunities.

More news

See all news