On International Day of Education, we call on world leaders to transform the way we deliver education.
The clock is turning. As a global community, we are committed to providing universal and equitable education by 2030. It takes just eight short years to get a quarter of a billion children into school.
While remarkable efforts are underway, armed conflicts raging around the world, forced displacement, disasters induced by climate change and now COVID-19 are derailing progress, jeopardizing the future of entire generations. If we don’t act now, it will affect all of humanity one day.
On International Day of Education, it’s time to change course and transform the way we deliver on our promise of universal education – especially for the millions of girls and boys caught in dire situations. emergency and protracted crises who are denied their inherent human right to go to school, learn and thrive. They are the ones most left behind and whom we must bring to the fore at this critical time.
According to UNESCO, up to 258 million children and young people are out of school worldwide. Two out of three students are still affected by full or partial school closures due to COVID-19. Girls are particularly at risk, with estimates that between 11 and 20 million girls will not return to school after the pandemic.
While a minority of people on the planet enjoy all the comforts of modern life, more than 617 million children and adolescents cannot read or do basic calculations. That’s more than the total population of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States combined.
Children living on the front lines of conflict, forced displacement, disasters and protracted crises are most at risk, with as many as 128 million in need of urgent educational support.
So how do we get back on track and deliver on our promises? There are three essential pillars for transforming education for children in emergencies and protracted crises. Number 1. We need to step up our efforts to fund these efforts. Number 2. We need to deliver in partnership, break down silos and find ways to be more agile and responsive. Number 3. We must offer comprehensive solutions that are context-specific and adapted to the realities of the crisis.
Number 1. Financing education in emergencies
It starts with substantial funding and predictable funding. As the UN’s global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) has exceeded $1 billion in funds raised for its trust fund (and $1 billion raised or aligned in-country with ECW investments).
This milestone was possible thanks to ECW’s strategic donors, such as Germany, which today announced $228.3 million (Є200 million) in additional funding to support the fund’s multi-year investments, becoming ECW’s largest donor to date with $362.7 million (Є318 million) in total dues.
Beyond scaling up large funding, flexibility and predictability are also crucial. Quality learning outcomes cannot be achieved through short-term emergency interventions. We need funding and multi-year programs that can adapt to changing needs in a context of inherent instability of the crisis and can guarantee continuous and uninterrupted education.
Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4: inclusive and equitable quality education, is the best way to advance all other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is the magic bullet for creating social and economic impacts that can generate sustainable human development and prosperity.
For every dollar spent on girls’ education, we generate approximately $2.80 in return. Ensuring that girls complete secondary education could increase the GDP of developing countries by 10% over the next decade.
In just five years, ECW has been able to reach five million children and adolescents with the safety and opportunity of a quality education.
On the ground, this means that in places like Bangladesh, Chad, Ecuador and Syria, children receive the holistic support they need to regain safety, protection and opportunities for learning environments. quality.
As we have seen in Germany’s generous contribution today, major public donors are taking up this challenge and prioritizing education in their official development or/and humanitarian aid.
Now is the time for others to follow suit. ODA governments will need to scale up funding to meet real needs, while engaging more with the private sector and philanthropic foundations to significantly scale up our global investment in education based on realistic calculations commensurate with real costs.
In a world where football teams sell for billions of dollars and billionaires fly into space, how is it possible that we can’t find the resources to send every child to school?
Investing in a child’s education is investing in all of humanity. It is time to transform our perception of the world, our priorities and our way of assuming our responsibility as a human family.
Number 2. Deliver in partnership
No actor can do it alone. At this year’s Transforming Education Summit, hosted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, we will wonder how to avoid a generational catastrophe and rethink our education systems and their funding to deliver on our commitments and promises.
When it comes to investing in education, part of the solution is to break down silos and build bridges. Based on the UN Secretary-General’s reform, this means partnerships through joint programming, or “The New Way of Working”. ECW Global Investments Reflect Secretary Generalit is UN reform in results.
Think about how partnerships can work to deliver education in a crisis like Afghanistan – where ECW has invested in joint programming for holistic approaches, linking humanitarian and development operations, since 2018.
Teachers’ salaries must be paid. Schools and learning centers must be built and equipped. Girls and female teachers must feel safe to go to school – and girls’ rights to education must be respected. Students who have experienced a lifetime of conflict and trauma need mental health services.
During my recent mission to Afghanistan, I saw how crucial collaboration between humanitarian and development actors is to effectively address these multiple challenges. Although the bulk of international aid to Afghanistan remains frozen, on the ground, UN agencies and international and national NGOs have the operational capacities to deliver the response – they just lack the funding.
ECW partners such as UNICEF and WFP, as well as numerous NGOs – such as Save the Children, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, the Aga Khan Foundation and Wadan – jointly support education in this mountainous country. and seemingly inaccessible, including secondary education for girls.
To transform the delivery of education, visionary leaders such as the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and ECW President Gordon Brown, António Guterres, UN Under-Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed and German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze approach education from a new angle, linking humanitarian, development and peacebuilding interventions.
Number 3. Comprehensive solutions for the child
A child who is hungry or traumatized by the unspeakable violence they have witnessed will most likely struggle to achieve quality learning outcomes. No matter how well trained a teacher is or how well equipped a classroom is, if a girl skips class every month during her period because of a lack of sanitary products or adequate sanitation facilities at school, or if she doesn’t dare go to school for fear of harassment and kidnapping – we let her down.
Providing education to children and adolescents living in crisis situations goes beyond providing classrooms and textbooks. We must create the enabling environments and policies needed to support a child’s overall well-being – including educational, psychological, social-emotional, health, nutrition and protection needs – and ensure that the gender equality and disability inclusion are at the heart of our responses .
Only by working collectively will we have the breadth of expertise and operational reach to support these multiple facets of a child or adolescent’s needs. Only then will we unleash the power of education for these girls and boys to realize their potential and thrive.
Our place in history
We are living through one of the inflection points of history.
Seas are rising and threatening human existence, and millions of children are being denied their inherent right to education, due to conflict, abject poverty and climate-induced disasters, which displace families and entire communities, erode infrastructure and lead to brain drain. country. In two years, a virus has claimed the lives of more than 5 million people, disrupted global trade and impacted the lives of people around the world.
Education is the very foundation that can guide our efforts to safeguard our humanity. The clock is ticking and there will be no other chance. Now is the time to define the future of our existence on earth to fulfill our global promises of a better, more stable, just and prosperous world.
In the final analysis, leaders motivated by humanity rather than power see things from afar and from within. And so they recognize the relationship between themselves, the world, universal values and human rights.
In honor of the rights of the 128 million children and young people whose education has been interrupted in their early lives due to conflict, forced displacement and climate disasters, I call on all of you – not just to define – but to lead their and our future.