The Global Education Summit: Looking back, moving forward

As part of Africa Youth Month, GPE Youth Leaders from Kenya share their reflections on the commitments made at the Global Education Summit while making the case for why young people are a critical voice in advocating for increased investment in education.

November 29, 2021 by Angel Mbuthia, and Cynthia Nyongesa
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3 minutes read
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Youth leaders from Kenya and Sierra Leone, and Malala speaking to some world leaders during the Global Education Summit.  Credit: GPE/Tom Whipps
Youth leaders from Kenya and Sierra Leone, and Malala speaking to some world leaders during the Global Education Summit. London, July 29, 2021.
Credit: GPE/Tom Whipps

On July 28 and 29, the Global Partnership for Education co-hosted the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021–2025 with the governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom. It was an opportunity for leaders to make 5-year commitments to support GPE’s work to help improve education systems for the most vulnerable children across the globe.

This Africa Youth Month, themed “Defining the Future Today: Youth-Led Solutions for Building the Africa We Want,” we reflect on the role that young people played during the summit and the Raise Your Hand campaign, and on their role in ensuring that governments follow through on their commitments to protect, prioritize and increase financing for education so that no child is left behind.

GPE youth leaders played a vital role during the summit, bringing their expertise and their lived experience to discussions with world and sector leaders. Passionate, self-driven, vocal and brilliant, youth leaders from across the world have played significant roles in supporting the campaign.

We have consistently advocated for quality education for young people in Africa. In addition, we understand that education is not just an African issue but a global concern.

Before the summit, we used our moderating, communication and advocacy skills to amplify the Raise Your Hand campaign. For example, we addressed members of Parliament from the United Kingdom and Kenya.

For the youth leaders, the summit was a personal commitment to ensure that every child could experience the opportunities that arise from learning.

For example, to support the #RaiseYourHand campaign online, one youth leader wore her high school uniform and re-created her classroom experience to emphasize the importance of the message.

Leaders at the summit unanimously agreed that education is the silver bullet of this century, as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson noted: “Education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet to solve a myriad of problems, from gender inequality to climate change, and is one of the surest ways for our countries’ economies to rebound.”

World leaders demonstrated their commitment by making incredible education financing resolutions. Nineteen heads of state and government committed more than $196 billion toward financing education in their countries, while donor country partners pledged $4 billion for GPE.

Similar zeal was also exhibited by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who recounted his administration’s notable strides toward improving access to quality and affordable education.

In his address, he emphasized the special place of education in nurturing talents, shaping character and bringing dreams into reality and promised to channel more investments in strengthening the capacities of teachers, recognizing the instrumental role that they play in determining learning outcomes.

The Kenyan government’s commitments are a good stepping-stone in addressing the existing gaps in the education sector that continue to affect many children.

We are keen to see similar investments across the African continent and also want to ensure that these investments include early childhood development and education so that children have adequate play materials and nutrition to thrive.

We also hope to see an improvement in domestic financing strategies, which will ensure sustainable development.

GPE youth leaders will continue to advocate for leaders to make the most important investment a country can make: education.

We will also advocate for our leaders to follow through on their summit commitments over the next 5 years and bring us closer to a world where every child receives a quality education.

As young people, it is critical that we stand up and make our voices heard on this issue. We must make sure that our leaders are investing today for the world we want tomorrow.

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