10 years for education to deliver on the SDGs

2020 marks the start of the “Decade of Action” – 10 years left to mobilize the international community to accelerate progress to the world’s greatest problems.

January 24, 2020 by GPE Secretariat
4 minute read
The standard 2 teacher teaches her class using locally made wooden teaching and learning materials (in this case, a wooden fish). Kivukoni Primary School, Mpanda MC, Katavi, Tanzania.
The standard 2 teacher teaches her class using locally made wooden teaching and learning materials (in this case, a wooden fish). Kivukoni Primary School, Mpanda MC, Katavi, Tanzania.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

In 2015, the international community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all by 2030.  

This year marks the start of the “Decade of Action” – 10 years left to mobilize the international community to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s greatest problems. 

That’s why, as we celebrate the second International Day of Education, we want to highlight how education plays a crucial role in delivering on the promise of the 2030 Agenda.  

Quality education lays the groundwork for a country’s future. Education, especially for girls, has a ripple effect on health, prosperity, resilience and so much more. Getting education right will accelerate progress and provide an amplifying effect on the rest of the SDGs.  

1. Education for people

A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of 5 (The Learning Generation)

If all students in low-income countries completed secondary school, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty and the number of poor worldwide would be reduced by half.

In particular, when girls are educated, healthy and safe the whole world benefits. In addition to ensuring better health for themselves and their children, learning to read and write helps girls and women access information about their rights, identify and challenge inequality and chart their own course in life. 

In Afghanistan, GPE is supporting the government to make education more accessible for children in remote and insecure areas, especially girls. This type of intervention is an important contribution to strengthen the country’s fragile education system. Overall, Afghanistan is making progress in providing a quality education for all children—and significantly so in gender equality, as the rate of girls enrolling in primary school increased from 44% in 2002 to 87% in 2015.

2. Education for prosperity

If every girl received 12 years of education, they could add US$30 trillion to the global economy

Education is one of the strongest drivers of economic progress and prosperity leading to better individual and collective economic outcomes. By investing in education, countries can ensure that children have the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace and become engaged citizens.

Since 2005, GPE has supported Kenya’s impressive progress toward getting all children into school and learning. Since 2008, Kenya has spent at least 20% of its national budget on education, adhering to the GPE-advised target. Kenya’s dedication to education as a key pillar of its development strategy has paid dividends. In 2014, Kenya reached lower-middle income status

3. Education for the planet

Universalizing upper secondary education by 2030 would prevent 200,000 disaster-related deaths in the 20 years that follow.

Substantially mitigating climate change requires changing human behavior. By financing strong education systems, countries can ensure all children have a quality education that focuses on sustainable development and climate resilience. 

The percentage of people concerned about the environment in 29 countries increased by 37% with a secondary education. 

With support from GPE, South Sudan’s new curriculum includes as a key objective to create environmentally responsible members of society who are aware of the fragility of the environment, and the importance of environmental sustainability to life and prosperity. 

4. Education for peace

Across society, every year of schooling decreases the chance of a young person engaging in violent conflict by 20%.

Education has been identified as a key condition for ensuring peace and helping communities prevent and cope with conflict. Rebuilding education systems after war builds trust and accountability with governments and literate people are more likely to participate in the democratic process and exercise their civil rights.

In Burkina Faso’s volatile Sahel region, schools have been targeted by Islamic extremists, resulting in low enrollment and completion rates. To alleviate tensions, GPE and partners have been mainstreaming Franco-Arabic schools in Muslim-majority areas of the country.

In Somalia’s Puntland region, GPE has helped the Ministry of Education strengthen capacity, improving the quality of teaching and learning through teacher training, producing learning materials, and providing scholarships to reduce financial barriers to access education. Enrollment rates have increased from 41% in 2011/12 to 58% in 2015/16. 

5. Education for partnerships

Governments cannot achieve the SDGs alone. Cross-sectoral problems that span national borders require collaborative solutions. Partnerships have proven to be the most effective way to achieve strong development outcomes.

GPE remains dedicated to improving education in developing countries in partnership with donor countries, international organizations, development banks, private sector companies, philanthropic foundations, civil society organizations and teacher associations.

The partnership model actively contributes to the mobilization and alignment of donor financing behind national education plans that are based on needs assessments and evidence-based policy making. GPE has mobilized more than US$7 billion for education, creating better opportunities for millions of children, their communities and their countries. 

To further collaboration and partnership, GPE has recently launched two innovative funds to accelerate progress toward SDG 4. Education Out Loud, managed by Oxfam IBIS with an allocation of US$55.5 million from GPE, is the largest fund in the world dedicated to support civil society capacity building and engagement in education policy processes. With a budget of over $75 million, the Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX), is the largest fund solely dedicated to meet global public good gaps in education. It connects the expertise, innovation and knowledge of GPE partners to help developing countries build stronger education systems. 

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