UNGEI’s Response to Education Commission Report ‘The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World’

September 30, 2016

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Photo credit/Alexis Stergakis
 

New York, 30 September 2016 – During the 71ST Session of the UN General Assembly, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity launched the much awaited, ‘The Learning Generation: Investing in Education for a Changing World’ report. UNGEI endorses the report which introduces an ambitious Financing Compact to be realized through four education transformations: performance, innovation, inclusion and finance. The financing component calls for an unprecedented increase in global education investment from 1.3 trillion dollars to 3 trillion dollars expenditure per capita in order to meet SDG4 by 2030.

In presenting the report, Commissioner and GPE Chair Julia Gillard did not shy away from the “eye-wateringly monumental” figures contained within, instead cautioning governments and donors that the cost of under-investment in education would be devastating for both citizens and world economies. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon took the opportunity of the launch to highlight the plight of refugee and displaced children; and the function of education in peace-building as an important tool to eradicate the spread of “poisonous ideologies, particularly targeting girls”. In closing proceedings Commissioner Gordon Brown made an impassioned plea to world leaders, public, private, civil and philanthropic donors to address the needs of 263 million children and young people out of school worldwide, specifically referencing the precarious futures of the 1 million Syrian refugees presently out of school.

As iterated throughout the launch, the report itself brings to the table again the financial case for filling the education deficit that many education partnerships such as Education Cannot Wait and the Global Campaign for Education, continue to highlight.

UNGEI commends the Commission for identifying and integrating gender issues into the Learning Generation report, and a call for investment in equity. Nora Fyles, Head of the UNGEI Secretariat, welcomed the report, which brings together, “a mind shift and systems change approach that is strongly in support of inclusion. Most importantly the report links to the SDG’s in a practical and pragmatic way by grounding our collective vision in an investment plan”.

Achieving the Commission’s Learning Generation vision would mean that all children in low- and middle-income countries would have access to quality pre-primary, primary, and secondary education within a generation, and a child in a low-income country would be as likely to reach the baseline level of secondary school skills and participate in post-secondary education as a child in a high-income country today.

Building on the findings of the UNGEI Gender Consultation hosted during the 2016 Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission notably recognized the importance of girls’ education calling for a combination of actions including targeted financing for marginalized girls, making schools safe and responsive to girls’ needs, investment in education quality and community outreach to address restrictive social norms and tackle early  marriage.

Whilst acknowledging critical factors of exclusion, poverty, gender, regional disparity and others, the Commission chose to adopt a positive approach, calling on governments to take up actions across sectors which are drivers of inclusion in order to tackle the most prevalent learning barriers.

Although the report is not without criticism, there is significant support from the global education community as the report’s call for radical progress on education, accountability from leaders, adequate financing and effective investment. UNGEI looks forward to the soon to be released background papers which informed the Commission’s report, particularly those which focus on gender issues, and to joining others in supporting the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations for building a learning generation.

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Alexis Stergakis (@lexistergakis) is the Advocacy and Communications Lead Consultant for the Secretariat for the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI).

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