The conference focused on ways of providing education to the hundreds of millions of people around the world with little or no access to learning opportunities. More than 1,600 participants, including approximately 100 ministers and deputy ministers of education from 153 UNESCO Member States, alongside representatives of 20 intergovernmental organizations, 25 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), foundations and other institutions of civil society, took part in the constructive and challenging debates.
Participants expressed particular concern over the potential impact of the global financial crisis and stressed that education was fundamental to reducing poverty and improving health and livelihoods. Ministers, education experts and representatives of civil society proposed concrete steps to improve education systems and overcoe major obstacles to inclusion. These steps include the development of policies that allow excluded groups access to regular school; the promotion of linguistic and cultural diversity, and equipping teachers with skills and materials to teach diverse populations.