The 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19CCEM) starting today will tackle the tough challenges facing governments in providing quality education and employable skills for young people, Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General, has said.

Following closely on the heels of the World Education Forum in May, the 19CCEM will give consideration to the decisions made at the international gathering in Korea, and build on the work of the 18CCEM Ministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Agenda. The group has proposed education goals for the Commonwealth covering primary, secondary and tertiary education. 

A new working group, to be formed at the 19CCEM, will be tasked with developing the pioneering Commonwealth Accelerated Development Mechanism for Education, which will support countries to harmonise national education goals with the internationally agreed post-2015 agenda.

The meeting will also see the launch of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Education Hub - a virtual ‘one-stop-shop’ where professionals can connect with their peers and tap into a vast array of information and services.

“The Commonwealth Secretariat and The Government of The Bahamas are extending a warm invitation to education ministers, senior government officials, teachers, students and education experts and NGOs to attend the 19CCEM,” said Mr Maharaj. He also noted that the 19th meeting of Commonwealth Education Ministers will provide an opportunity for Ministers and Senior Officials to share and learn from experiences across the Commonwealth.

He added: “In a year when the international community will decide global education goals, we have the opportunity to come together to identify practical measures to ensure every Commonwealth country is able to provide a world class education system with strong curricula, effective teacher training and skills that adequately prepare our citizens for gainful employment.”

The host minister, The Bahamas Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald, said: "An advantage of hosting this particular CCEM is the fact that the Internationally Agreed Goals - Educational for All and Millennium Development Goals - which have driven the global development agenda for the past 15 years expire in 2015. 

“It is expected that the Commonwealth will issue a clear statement on the way forward in education for the next 15 years at this meeting.”

Ministerial discussions at 19CCEM will be augmented by a Stakeholder Forum, which is open to civil society, academia and the private sector, and Youth and Teachers Forums.

Head of the UK National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, said: “The Teachers Forum at the 19CCEM is about making sure that the voice of teachers is central to policy making. We are after all the people who work in classrooms day in day out and absolutely understand what needs to be done.”

Speaking about the Commonwealth Student Congress, which will be established at the Youth Forum, Chair of the Commonwealth Students Association, Stanley Njoroge, said: 

“I am really excited about the inaugural Commonwealth Students Congress. It will be the largest pan-Commonwealth gathering of students to date, and will give student leaders the opportunity to come together, build synergies and affect policymaking in education.

“We are pleased that the Commonwealth sees the value of putting young people at the heart of its work and is committed to empowering students to be real partners in driving development and change.”

The high-level meeting, which is being hosted in June by the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, is expected to attract over 1000 delegates.