U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be launching the Education First initiative at the 67th U.N. General Assembly. Photo by: Evan Schneider / U.N. Photo

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is set to make a “big push” for education at the 67th U.N. General Assembly with the launch of a new initiative that goes beyond 2015.

The launch of the Education First initiative will take place Wednesday (Sept. 26), when new commitments for education from world leaders, civil society and U.N. officials are expected to be announced. Its focus will be on improving access to and quality of education, and how education will figure in addressing the world’s challenges.

The new initiative aims to keep the world on track to meet the second Millennium Development Goal — universal access to primary education by 2015  and “lay the groundwork for a bold vision for education post-2015,” according to a press release. It also aims to generate enough funding for education through global advocacy efforts.

The high-level launch will be attended by several personalities, including Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, South African President Jacob Zuma, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, and former U.K Prime Minister and Ban’s special envoy for global education Gordon Brown. Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, meanwhile, will be among the featured panelists in a discussion following the event.

“In almost all my visits to areas ravaged by war and disaster, the plea of survivors is the same: education first,” Ban said in a video statement. “Education is a priority for people around the world, and it is my priority, too.”

Here’s a list of some of the key issues, events and meetings happening at the weeklong event.

  • Member states, nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups are set to address how to boost the ”rule of law” at the national and international levels at a high-level meeting on Sept. 24. It is at this event that governments are expected to make individual but voluntary pledges on the rule of law. Pledges should be specific, achievable, action-oriented and time-bound. Several governments have already made their pledges ahead of the meeting. Australia, for one, pledged to provide $12 million in “core support” to the U.N. Peacebuilding Fund in the next four years. This is to “strengthen institutional capacity in post-conflict countries and prevent a relapse into violence,” according to the document. Eighty percent of EU delegations, meanwhile, will introduce “specific measures on the role of external assistance and development cooperation in their local strategies for the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Violence against Women and Girls and Combating All Forms of Discrimination against them” by 2015, according to the pledge made by the European Union.

  • The United Nation’s high-level panel on the post-2015 global development agenda is set to meet for the first time on Sept. 25. Two meetings, however, will take place prior to the event: a ministerial debate on sustainable development and a civil society dialogue with some of the members of the high-level panel on the post-2015 U.N. process.

  • A number of side events will tackle food security. Representatives from the G-8 as well as several members of the private sector and civil society will discuss progress made so far on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition launched this May at a side event titled, “New Alliance: Progress and the Way Forward.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, will highlight the role of civil society in the U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative on Sept. 27  the same day a high-level meeting on the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative will take place.

  • Women will be the focus of several side events and high-level meetings as well. Clinton will be launching a new initiative, titled, “Equal Futures Partnership,” on Sept. 24. This aims to boost women’s economic and political participation  in line with the state secretary’s longstanding advocacy. Several high-level meetings on the same day will tackle maternal health in developing countries, the elimination of female genital mutilation and the role of women in countries in transition. These will be followed by a special event on “Every Woman Every Child” on Sept. 25.

  • A summit focused on Somalia will take place on Sept. 26. This will be followed by the launch of the U.N. Development Program’s Somalia Human Development Report 2012 on Sept. 28.

  • A key highlight at the General Assembly is the annual general debate, where world leaders make big speeches. This Tuesday, all ears will be on U.S. President Barack Obama as he takes the stage and address a number of issues  from Syria to the recent protests across the Muslim world.

“This is going to be the biggest season,” Ban said in an interview with U.N. Center’s Elizabeth Philip, where he said his biggest challenge will be “convincing world leaders to live up to their commitments.”

“I will try to be very frank, to tell them where they are falling short, where they need to do more, particularly when it comes to the Millennium Development Goals,” he said.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.