One Billion Voices for Education: A time to speak up and protect education

The Global Campaign for Education is launching a new campaign called One Billion Voices on January 25, on the occasion of the International Day of Education. The campaign aims to secure an increase in public financing for education by elevating the voices from the billion learners who have been affected by the COVID pandemic and sharing their experiences and call for urgent action.

January 19, 2021 by Emily Laurie, Global Campaign for Education
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4 minutes read
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School lets out in Bangladesh. Photo credit: Scott Wallace / World Bank
School lets out in Bangladesh.
Photo credit: Scott Wallace/World Bank

The Global Campaign for Education is launching a new campaign called One Billion Voices on January 25th, on the occasion of the International Day of Education. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting the education of more than one billion people.

It is also worsening the existing global education financing crisis thereby impacting the progress of the entire Sustainable Development Agenda and specifically Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). Furthermore, the World Bank projects a potential 10% cut in education budgets due to the pandemic.

The One Billion Voices campaign aims to secure an increase in public financing for education to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all by elevating the voices from the billion learners who have been affected by the COVID pandemic and sharing their experiences and call for urgent action.

Education as a priority agenda

We believe these voices, raised together for education, can have the power to stop the reversal to education progress we are seeing today. These voices can help put education back as a priority agenda for governments around the world. That is why we are launching the campaign and asking everyone to share their voice: to show the world that education cannot and must not be overlooked.

Voices of hope

As we move towards the launch and start to collect and hear the voices of students, teachers and parents around the world, it is clear that the threat to education is more universal than ever before, but so too are the solutions and stories of inspiration.

There are voices of despair but there are also voices of hope.
For every parent worrying about how to educate their child without materials, there is a teacher walking hundreds of miles a week to deliver school supplies and give lessons from a distance.

There are voices of concern but there are also voices of innovation.
For every child worried about how they can access any education, there is a radio station working with teachers and volunteers to broadcast lessons to the most remote locations.

There are voices of exhaustion but there are also voices of energy and positivity.
For every parent who is resigned to the fact their children will learn nothing or little during this time, there is someone fighting to make sure every child, especially the most marginalized, are still able to access learning.

Voices calling for action now

Then there are all the voices calling for action, now.

We must listen to these voices and share our own, and those of people in our community and country. Education cannot remain an afterthought, it must be prioritized within COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

Children missing out on an education need our help now, not once we have managed to move beyond the pandemic response. Countries and the world as a whole can only recover from this global crisis if education systems are funded.

One Billion Voices’ call to action

The campaign’s call to action sets out how governments can act to finance quality education and includes eight policy recommendations:

  1. Increase state funding for education to 20% of public expenditure.
  2. Increase their tax base in order to increase resources, working towards a minimum tax-to-GDP ratio of 20%.
  3. Enable urgent debt cancellation for the least developed countries; and debt alleviation for middle and upper-middle income countries.
  4. Ensure inclusive educational systems and institutions.
  5. Provide free quality education for all and end the trend towards the privatization and commercialization of education.
  6. Improve the quality of teaching through adequate recruitment, remuneration and continued teacher training.
  7. Listen and respond to the voices of those affected. Space must be allowed for individuals and civil society to speak up.
  8. Developed countries must continue to work towards the goal of 0.7% aid, with 20% of this spent on education, and step up their financial contributions to the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait.

How to join the campaign

  1. Join our campaign launch event
  2. Watch and share the One Billion Voices Campaign video
  3. Share your voice! Use social media to share a quote, photo or story about how COVID-19 has affected your education or the education of those around you. @campaingforeducation (Facebook and Instagram) @globaleducation (Twitter) with #OneBillionVoicesForEducation
  4. Use these letters to lobby your government representatives to take action.
  5. Share stories, blogs, articles, art and poems of education resilience, organization, mobilization and transformation, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic (short videos or written stories). These will be posted and shared on the GCE website and social media platforms and will form a pool of stories from which we can draw inspiration, lessons and experience. Share stories with OneBillionVoices@campaignforeducation.org or on social media.
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