5 reasons for $5+ billion: Interview with Carin Jämtin

GPE asks Carin Jämtin 5 questions on the power of education. GPE's financing campaign seeks to raise at least $5 billion over five years to transform education for up to 1 billion children in 90 countries and territories.

June 09, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
5 reasons for $5+ billion: Interview with Carin Jämtin

Carin Jämtin is the Director-General of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

1. Education is a critical aspect of development and contributes to empowered citizens, better health and gender equality. Sida recognizes the fundamental role of education in human, social and economic development. What are Sida’s priorities for the education agenda in the coming years?

The starting point for Sweden’s development cooperation is that education is a fundamental human right and should be made available to everyone, including the most marginalized.

Sida has a holistic approach to learning with a focus on national education systems that contribute to improved, equitable, inclusive and gender-equal education and quality lifelong learning for all. But the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that education systems all over the world face enormous challenges in this crisis.

Building resilient and robust education systems has to be at the core for building back better after the pandemic.

2. Through Sweden’s initiative Drive for Democracy, the Swedish government will work with countries, multilateral organizations and civil society to highlight the role of democracy in equality, governance, human rights and sustainable development. What role does education play in reinforcing democracy and human rights?

There is a close relationship between education and democracy. Knowledge and good quality education are essential for broad and inclusive social engagement, critical thinking and political involvement. Countries with inclusive and free education have many advantages.

Education provides basic knowledge, including critical thinking and how to assimilate information, which in turn strengthens the ability to engage in society. We also know that more years spent in school lead to greater trust in public institutions and less corruption, which is crucial for strong democratic societies.

The links between education, democracy and human rights are so numerous that increased support for quality education can generally be seen as an important contribution to democratic development.

3. Sida is a key partner of GPE and has also contributed to its new strategy – GPE 2025. What elements of GPE’s strategy do you see as the most crucial?

As a longstanding partner to GPE, we are of course pleased that the new strategy is very much a continuation of GPE’s important work. Providing equal, inclusive quality education for all is not a quick fix but a long-term commitment.

GPE’s continued focus on strengthening national education systems, as well as on hardwiring gender equality into all aspects of GPE’s work, are also very much welcomed.

Another crucial aspect of the new strategy is the ambition to work with other sectors. For example, it is clear that working with water, sanitation and hygiene, health and prevention of gender-based violence positively affects children and youth access to education and their ability to learn. If we genuinely want to transform education systems, we have to go beyond the ‘traditional’ education sector.

4. GPE and its partners have the ambition to raise at least $5 billion over five years to continue transforming education systems in up to 90 lower-income countries and territories. Why do you think the Raise Your Hand financing campaign is so important?

I think it goes without saying that COVID-19 has led to a truly critical situation for education in the world.

Children deprived of their human right to education is serious, but the long-term effects will be devastating for a lot of people and countries, particularly in contexts of crisis where girls, refugees and children with disabilities are at risk of being left behind even more. Not to mention that even before this crisis, progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 was already off track.

The investment case for education is strong; today no one questions that education is the most powerful way for a country to reduce poverty. GPE’s financing campaign comes at the right moment highlighting the severe financial situation for education both at global and national levels.

We have to keep in mind that if we don’t focus more strongly on education, and especially girls’ education, we will not manage to reach the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

5. What do you remember most about school? Were there moments or teachers that had a particularly big impact on you?

My favorite subjects were physical education and social sciences. I had fantastic PE teachers in primary and secondary school who let me do all of the sports available. This was also an entry point to associations and organization and as a young girl I already became active in civil society organizations.

Social sciences have always drawn my attention as questions about the development of a society are close at heart. My social science teacher challenged me in ways that made me think bolder. I found that really exciting and it made me develop as a person.

Read other interviews from this series.

Carin Jämtin raises her hand to support GPE financing campaign.
Carin Jämtin raises her hand to support GPE financing campaign.

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