Our world is being dramatically redefined by common threats to human survival, from conflicts to climate change and health emergencies. A generation of young people armed with quality education can shield us from the worst impacts of the next pandemic, war or natural disaster, and help us harness the unrivaled opportunities of the 21st century.
Progress on global education is at a crossroads. We have a significant opportunity to redefine the future by getting quality learning for all back on track, but the window is rapidly closing.
COVID-19’s dire impact on education
COVID-19 created the greatest disruption to education of our time. As countries continue to battle the waves of the pandemic, millions of children’s learning is being interrupted.
As learning loss mounts, so does the risk that the most marginalized children will never return to school. Those at greatest risk are children with disabilities, and children from the poorest households, especially girls.
At the same time, the economic contraction caused by the pandemic is putting both domestic and international funding for children’s education at risk. Education budgets have already decreased in two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries. Squeezed budgets could translate into a fall for aid to education of up to US$2 billion by 2022. It may be six years until 2018 levels are reached again.
The combined impacts of school closures and economic crisis threaten to entrench educational inequality and roll back two decades of progress on learning.