Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, today delivered Ireland’s National Statement at the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.
Minister Madigan represented Ireland at the UNESCO General Conference on the important occasion of its 75th anniversary.
Minister Madigan’s programme also provided an opportunity for high-level engagement at both UNESCO and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also an important year for the OECD as it marks its 60th anniversary. In autumn 2021, Ireland marked 60 years of membership of both organisations.
The General Conference, UNESCO’s supreme policy-making body, meets every two years. The General Conference runs from 9-24 November, during which, a Government representative of each Member State delivers a national statement.
In her remarks, which were delivered in a mix of English and French, Minister Madigan said:
“Ireland believes that quality education is essential to individual well-being, social cohesion and sustainable development. Ireland has always been committed to the promotion of quality education as a fundamental human right for all, both at home and abroad.
“The Irish education system is underpinned by a policy of inclusion, where all children, including children with additional needs, have the same access to quality education, and have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Internationally, our development cooperation programmes focus on strengthening national education systems to deliver equitable, inclusive, and quality education for all, especially those in need of additional support. This means including children living in extreme poverty and rural areas, children with disabilities, migrant and refugee children and those in conflict and post-conflict situations, indigenous people and children in vulnerable situations.
“Gender equality is also a priority for Ireland, in and through education. Ireland has championed adolescent girls’ education, launching a Call to Action for Adolescent Girls’ Education in 2020. We have worked with UNESCO and other stakeholders in promoting girls’ education as the catalyst to achieving gender equality.”
At the OECD, Minister Madigan met with Yuri Belfali, Head of the Early Childhood and Schools Division. The Minister then had an opportunity to meet with and discuss the OECD’s Strength through Diversity: Education for Inclusive Societies Project by the OECD’s Education and Skills Directorate.