It takes a global village to raise a child

In less than 80 days, world leaders will participate in the Global Education Summit, which aims to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in low-income countries and transform education systems for one billion girls and boys in 90 countries and territories. Just as the global village acts to fight against a common enemy to health, it must do the same with education to safeguard the future of the planet.

May 17, 2021 by Nesmy Manigat
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3 minutes read
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Students from Avondale Infant School in their classroom in Zimbabwe. Credit: GPE/Carine Durand
Students from Avondale Infant School in their classroom in Zimbabwe
Credit: GPE/Carine Durand

Against the backdrop of a COVID-19 pandemic that reminds us that we are part of a global village and that we are all citizens of the world, in less than 80 days leaders from around the world will participate in the Global Education Summit in support of the replenishment campaign of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The summit will be held in London on July 28 and 29, 2021 and will be co-chaired by Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.

This summit aims to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning in low-income countries and transform education systems for the benefit of one billion girls and boys in 90 countries and territories.

The challenge is an enormous one, as the pandemic has affected the entire planet. It has slowed the pace of all activities, disrupting the school calendar and the continuity of teaching and learning, impacts with which we are all too familiar today.

Unless global, national, and local leaders respond quickly and effectively, such shocks could threaten the future of an entire generation and undermine global progress and stability.

Much more to be done following GPE’s response

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on the economy, as well as on health and education. While the first tentative signs of economic recovery are beginning to appear and vaccination campaigns are up and running, it is time for some good news from the education sector as well.

Yet, many studies are now pointing to a significant decline in literacy and numeracy rates among children.

The response from the GPE Fund has been quick and decisive, with the establishment of an accelerated funding window of over $500 million to help low-income countries plan and implement their response to the pandemic.

Other major international partners have also taken steps to support governments that have had to ramp up public expenditure on education in order to alleviate the plight of parents, already poorly paid teachers, and students.

Nevertheless, according to the World Bank and UNESCO, two thirds of low- and lower middle-income countries have actually reduced their education budgets since the start of the pandemic.

Much more needs to be done to mitigate the severe learning crisis, especially with the current requirement for distance learning systems that deepen educational and social inequalities.

This is not the time, therefore, for developing country partners or donor countries to lower their guard in terms of public education expenditure.

We need the commitment of the entire global village

Today, more than ever, it takes both a local and a global village to raise a child in this world. COVID-19 reminds us that, if we are to eliminate poverty and pandemics and address climate risks, terrorism, and armed conflict, we need not only massive investment, but also a commitment to act together.

The dawn of this new decade is fraught with the uncertainties associated with the health crisis and other challenges that were already looming, particularly climate change. The recent education gains in developing country partners, in terms of access and quality, are too fragile to be considered irreversible. We cannot rule out the risk of major setbacks.

In this regard, GPE's technical response is just as important for strengthening knowledge and innovation exchange (KIX). In the age of digital platforms, virtual libraries, and artificial intelligence that make up the new knowledge economy, the school plays a key role in distributing opportunities for students in developing countries.

Just as the global village acts to fight against a common enemy to health, it must do the same to safeguard the future of the planet, which is now being decided in the world’s classrooms.

This is why I “raise my hand” to support the mobilization of $5 billion for the GPE 2025 strategy.

Nesmy Manigat raises his hand to support the GPE financing campaign.
Nesmy Manigat raises his hand to support the GPE financing campaign
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