Transforming Education Summit: GPE calls on world leaders to urgently commit more and better financing for education - one of the most critical issues of our time
Transforming Education Summit in New  York
GPE/Breanna Ridsdel

NEW YORK, September 20, 2022 - The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) congratulates the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, for gathering world leaders to confront one of the most pressing issues of our time: ensuring that millions of vulnerable children in lower-income countries can learn and learn well over a full 12 years. The Summit should be a turning point to win back lost gains in education globally and accelerate progress in earnest towards achieving SDG 4.

At the Transforming Education Summit, GPE called on world leaders to sustain strong ambitions for children and urgently commit much more and better financing to address a profound crisis in education, accelerated by conflict, the food and fuel crises, climate change, inflation and COVID-19. In several events focused on gender, GPE pushed world leaders to prioritize equality between girls and boys through education to leverage transformative change.

During the Summit, GPE convened donors, the private sector, civil society and foundations around innovative approaches to financing, including ways to convert national debt payments into education spending. More than 30 GPE partner countries spend the equivalent of at least half their education budgets on debt obligations, and a collaborative approach by creditors, donors and governments could ease this burden while targeting education directly with the proceeds.

Diverse, innovative leadership is also vital to tackling the education crisis. At the Summit, GPE welcomed President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana as champion for domestic financing, taking up the mantle from former President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, architect of the Heads of State Declaration on Education Financing. The Declaration commits leaders to allocate at least 20 percent of public spending to education. More than 20 countries, mostly from the African continent, have already signed on - accounting for US$200 billion over five years to help girls and boys learn - and the momentum is growing.

GPE youth leaders Cynthia Nyongesa and Maryam and Nivaal Rehman ensured world leaders heard the voice of those whose futures are at stake. They called for a total commitment to funding for education, gender equality and profoundly transformed education systems.

An educated population is a country's most valuable resource to meet today's challenges and those yet to come. Yet we risk squandering it and blighting not only the futures of millions of children but our own social and economic horizons. Before COVID-19, more than a quarter of a billion children were out of school and half of all students finished primary school without basic reading comprehension skills; COVID-19 has put an additional 24 million children at risk of dropping out permanently. And the number of children unable to read and understand a simple story by age 10 is now around 70 percent.

This Summit represents an alarm bell alerting the global community to the threat to our future posed by the crisis in education. Action needs to follow, fast.

As the Summit draws to a close, GPE is intensifying its focus on country-specific support, convening a meeting of sovereign and private sector donors - including major global technology companies - to respond to the urgent and longer-term education needs of children whose lives and learning have been shattered by the war in Ukraine. Solutions can include leveraging funding and in-kind contributions from global tech giants to advance Ukraine's ongoing efforts to digitize its education system, allowing for distance learning.

This is the kind of global response we need to tip the balance back in favor of children in lower-income countries, particularly girls and those living in poverty or with disabilities. Their future is ours and we must urgently find new ways, new partners and new financing, today, to ensure they can count on a quality education to prepare them.

Transforming Education Summit in New  York
GPE/Breanna Ridsdel

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