3 reasons why world leaders must invest in education now

The “Futures Festival: Raise Your Hand,” held last week was an important milestone on the road to the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025. Spotlighting young people who are taking the lead in calling for financing to education, it also included high profile speakers who engaged with national, regional and global youth networks from across the world. Here are the main takeaways.

May 13, 2021 by Maryam Rehman, and Nivaal Rehman
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4 minutes read
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6th grade classroom at Karume primary school. The school has 1250 students, in 19 classes, grades 1-7. Average class size is 45. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Credit: World Bank/Arne Hoel
6th grade classroom at Karume primary school. The school has 1250 students, in 19 classes, grades 1-7. Average class size is 45. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Credit: World Bank/Arne Hoel

Last week, we had the honor of moderating the “Futures Festival: Raise Your Hand,” a youth-led livestream on education financing.

The event was an important milestone on the road to the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025. It spotlighted young people who are taking the lead in calling for financing to education. It also included high profile UN and governmental speakers who engaged with national, regional and global youth networks from across the world.

The main takeaway? Now, more than ever, government leaders must be ambitious and bold in their investments in education. 96% of youth participating in the Futures Festival said they think that COVID will have an impact on their country’s education system long-term.

Financing education is a priority

This is why, as we look towards building a better world after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that issues such as education inequality, exacerbated during the pandemic, are addressed.

As a number of lower-income countries have cut their public education budgets since the onset of the pandemic, young people also called on their leaders to protect education in national budgets and ensure that public financing for education is spent as efficiently as possible and reaches the most marginalized.

Let us summarize the top 3 reasons why education should be one of the top priorities for leaders, and why ambitious investments in GPE are essential.

1. Education can be a solution to other global challenges

Vanessa Nakate, a Fridays for Future activist from Uganda and founder of the Rise Up movement, spoke about universal education and family planning as a solution to the climate crisis, as it helps reduce inequality and carbon emissions. She has been advocating for education as a means of achieving climate justice.

In addition, Malala Fund’s new report on highlights how increasing gender equality through investments in education will lead to better climate adaptation efforts. Education can make climate action stronger, and more equitable, while also improving mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and increasing climate resilience in societies and communities.

2. A fully-funded GPE will ensure that no child is left behind

GPE youth leaders Maryjacob, Iyunoluwa, Ayesha, Maria and Diana called for more and better domestic financing to education and for commitments from donors to fully fund GPE.

UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed agreed, and called on youth to ‘keep pushing, make your voices heard, engage directly with those in power’ and called participants to ‘raise our hands so that the financing of education remains the priority it needs to be to ensure no child is left behind.’

GPE supports national education sector plans that are inclusive and equitable, ensuring that all children have access to the educational opportunities that they need. With more funding, GPE will be better equipped to support countries in reaching this goal.

3. GPE creates much-needed systemic changes to education globally

If the current pandemic has revealed anything, it is that the current systems have continued to create inequalities for many people. Now and beyond the pandemic, systems need to be changed in order to reach the most vulnerable. This is one of GPE’s main objectives.

Through the transformative changes that GPE is able to create, much-needed changes to education systems can be achieved. Ruth Kagia, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Office of the President of Kenya, highlighted the positive impact of GPE in Kenya.

“GPE has been a fantastic partner to developing countries, to sharpen the focus on education reform, education expenditure, bulk of the work on how education resources are utilized rests with national governments, who provide more than 95% of resources,” she said.

A fully funded GPE will be able to support national governments in widespread education reform, and also ensure that countries increase their own funding towards education.

Ultimately, the Futures Festival was a unique opportunity to hear youth voices, who spoke clearly on the reasons why education financing is essential to recovery plans and thus why it needs to be a priority.

All young people polled during the event said that donor governments should increase their aid to education, and 83% said that education should be a top priority for government expenditure.

The youth voices are clear. We call upon world leaders to listen to these voices and turn them into bold investments in education.

Watch a recording of the Futures Festival

Outcomes from The Futures Festival
Outcomes from The Futures Festival
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