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Estonian Ambassador Spoke in UN about Importance of Making Primary Education Available Globally

06.07.2011

No. 237-E

In his speech at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) yesterday, Estonian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Jüri Seilenthal spoke about international goals and challenges related to education. One of the UN Millennium Development Goals is to increase the availability of primary education globally and to ensure that by the year 2015 all children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

Ambassador Jüri Seilenthal stated that in many countries in the world the opportunity to get an education is still not a fundamental right, and therefore the international community must make a joint effort so that all children would have that opportunity. “In addition to the availability of primary schooling, we must also ensure that girls have the same opportunities to attend school as boys,” emphasised Seilenthal. The ambassador added that the Estonian Strategy for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid for 2011-2015 focuses on increasing the availability of education for women and children in developing countries as a priority.

“Since 2006, Estonia has been making voluntary donations through the UN Development Programme to the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). Through UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) we have also supported children’s education programmes in, for example, Haiti, Somalia and South Sudan, in order to help increase children’s access to education,” said the ambassador.

In his speech, Ambassador Seilenthal noted the importance of expanding opportunities to get a vocational education as well. “Developing vocational education is an important means for increasing economic growth in a society,” he noted. The ambassador added that Estonia has supported the updating of Georgia and Moldova’s vocational education systems and helped brings computers to schools in Georgia, Moldova and Palestine.

The ambassador also emphasised in his speech that participation in the work of the UN Economic and Social Council has given Estonia good experience for addressing many topics that are of importance to us, such as development co-operation, human rights, and humanitarian issues. “ECOSOC membership has also given Estonia an opportunity to increase its visibility in the international arena, intensify relations with developing countries, and focus on the humanitarian aid sector,” said Seilenthal. The ambassador added that within ECOSOC we have also been able to actively continue working to involve the promotion of equal rights and the situation of women more strongly in the development activities of the UN.

On Monday, 4 July, the 2011 Substantive Session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) began in Geneva. During the four-week session the focus will be on development, economic, environmental, humanitarian, and human rights topics, including the strengthening of the UN’s development and humanitarian activities.

The Economic and Social Council is the UN’s primary organ for dealing with economic and social issues. ECOSOC promotes economic development and the protection of human rights, discusses global economic, social and environmental issues, supports international co-operation in these areas, and co-ordinates the activities of UN special agencies, programmes and funds. ECOSOC is a parent organ with many subordinate commissions, including one for sustainable development (CSD), the status of women (CSW), and the development of populations (CPD). In 2011 Estonia is a member of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

The 54 members of the ECOSOC are chosen by the UN General Assembly for three years. Estonia has been a member of ECOSOC since 1 January 2009 and membership last three years, until 31 December 2011. In 2009 Estonia was vice president of ECOSOC. The role of vice president was filled by Estonia’s permanent representative to the UN Ambassador Tiina Intelmann.

Additional information on the UN Economic and Social Council can be found here: http://www.un.org/ecosoc

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