The Honourable Jerome K. Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology in The Bahamas and Host Minister of the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers attended the first forum of the 19CCEM.
The Civil Society Forum, facilitated by the Commonwealth Foundation, with specific focus on Small States and Small Island Developing States was officially opened on Saturday, 20th June, 2015 by Minster Fitzgerald.
The Civil Society Forum’s theme “Education and Sustainable Development in Small States: The Quality and Equity Imperatives”, will address the unique challenges and issues exclusive to Small States as they aim to aim to accomplish the goals of education and sustainable development.
Mr. Vijay Krishnarayan, Director of The Commonwealth Foundation in his introduction asserted, “Minister Fitzgerald has a firm grasp on education. Minister Fitzgerald in welcoming the Civil Society delegates reminded them that Small States and Small Island Developing States represent 31 of the 53 member countries in the Commonwealth. Highlighting the question to be discussed, ‘Can Small States overcome their size-related vulnerabilities and grow faster and more consistently?’ The Minister affirmed that he remains hopeful. “I remain optimistic; cognizant of the fact that it will require innovative approaches and deliberate and sustained efforts.”
Her Excellency, Mrs. Marie-Pierre Lloyd, High Commissioner for Seychelles to the United Kingdom, delivered the keynote address. The two-day forum’s objectives centre around discussions on two critical areas: 1) Consolidating basic and secondary education: quality and equity; and 2) Further and higher education for sustainable development. Her Excellency Lloyd praised the progressive approach of Small States and Small Island Developing States to providing basic education. “Education in Small States is relatively advanced and most have achieved the goal of access to basic education.” She also referenced the agenda of Rio+20 and the focus of Sustainable Development.
According to the Commonwealth Foundation, the 19CCEM offers unique conference features due to the Government of The Bahamas’ commitment to hosting an Education Ministers Meeting that is “inclusive and involves the widest possible range of voices. On Monday, June 22nd, the Government of The Bahamas and the Commonwealth Secretariat will host a Small States Forum for Ministers and invited civil society stakeholders. It is intended that today’s outcomes and deliberations will feed into Monday’s meeting to inform policy makers. Therefore, the Civil Society Forum is a critical component of the 19CCEM.