Every child deserves the opportunities and agency that access to a quality education brings. Education is a springboard to our greatest hopes and dreams. It is key to human development and plays a foundational role for the achievement of a more peaceful, prosperous, sustainable and resilient future as envisioned in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The importance of 12 years of free, publicly funded education is captured in SDG 4: “to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
In pursuit of our vision of a quality education for every child and our mission to mobilize partnerships and investments that transform education systems in developing countries, leaving no one behind, the GPE’ unique model helps partner countries make major strides in improving access, learning and equity in education, therefore achieving better outcomes for hundreds of millions of girls and boys.
Education faces unparalleled challenges
However, while the world has made considerable progress for children, we continue to face profound challenges to enabling every child to fulfill their fundamental right to an education.
Before the pandemic, close to 260 million children were out of school. Millions more were in classrooms but not learning the essential skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. Children from the poorest families, girls and children with disabilities still face huge barriers to learning in a safe and healthy environment. Even before COVID-19, the world was off track to achieve SDG 4.
The unprecedented disruptions and enduring economic and social impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threaten to further exacerbate and widen these inequalities. Malala Fund’s Girls’ Education and COVID-19 report estimates up to 10 million more girls could be out of secondary school when this pandemic is over.
Girls living in low-income households, rural areas and refugee contexts are among the most at risk. Teenage pregnancy across sub-Saharan Africa could increase by as much as 65% as a result of school closures because of the pandemic. Business as usual will not suffice if we are to realize the promise and aspirations of the 2030 agenda.