Leaders of the 56 countries that are part of the Commonwealth, representing 2.5 billion people, met in Kigali, Rwanda, on June 25 under the theme “Delivering a common future: Connecting, innovating, transforming”.
The communiqué they issued at the end of the meeting notes the importance of the right to education and 12 years of quality and inclusive education for all. It also recognizes the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on children’s learning.
Commonwealth leaders noted their support to the call to action for education financing spearheaded by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and adopted at the GPE Global Education Summit last July; and said they are “committed to efficient and innovative financing of education in accordance with country contexts.”
The education financing call to action has been endorsed by 19 Heads of State to date. Education financing remains at the forefront of GPE’s efforts to support education transformation in more than 80 partner countries.
The full text of the CHOGM communiqué on education is below:
94. Heads stressed the right to education and they reaffirmed the role of governments in offering 12 years of quality and inclusive education and ensuring children can catch up on lost learning. They also noted the need to further strengthen education systems during the current health crisis, to eliminate inequalities in the education sector, ensure foundational learning for all and promote inclusion of marginalized communities who have been impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic. They also acknowledged the importance of an accessible, affordable, high quality early learning and childcare system. In order to contribute to the global knowledge economy and to make higher institutions of learning relevant and sustainable, Heads affirmed their support for higher education and research.
95. Heads recognized the importance of human capital for sustainable development and welcomed the outcome of the recent 21st Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, which focused on resilience and sustainability; learning technologies; leadership in education; transitions within and outside the education system; addressing disparities; and financing of education. Heads also expressed support for the Kenyatta Call to Action on Education Finance, adopted at the Global Partnership for Education Summit in London in 2021, and committed to efficient and innovative financing of education in accordance with country contexts.
96. Heads expressed concern that young people and their futures were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic regarding their education, social interactions, and economic opportunities, impacting their mental health and well-being. Additionally, the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on the poorest and the most vulnerable, children, persons with disabilities, and adolescent girls, some of whom are at an increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence and other harmful practices due to school closures.
97. Heads acknowledged the transformative impact of technologies on education and committed to addressing the digital divide and the digital skills gap, with particular attention to supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, through appropriate access to technology and enhanced teacher capacity. Heads also noted the value of digital skills, vocational and trade skills, non-formal education, and lifelong learning, emphasizing the key role which education and skills play in the drive towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
98. They welcomed the renewed commitment of the Secretariat, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the Commonwealth of Learning to working together to help member countries achieve the 2030 Agenda through the Commonwealth Education Partnership. Heads also recognized the achievements of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019.”