More than 263 million children and youth around the world are out of school, while more than 250 million children who are in classrooms cannot read and write, unequipped with necessary skills to succeed in school and in life.
These are not numbers. They are young people, our sisters and brothers, sons and daughters. As a result of their circumstance and the barriers that prevent them from accessing inclusive and equitable quality educational opportunities, their hopes are diminished and dreams a distant reality.
World Leaders Mobilize For Global Education Opportunity
In an effort to provide them a better and brighter future, Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, President Michelle Bachelet of Chile, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, President Peter Mutharika of Malawi, and Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova co-convened The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. Launched at the Oslo Summit on Financing Education for Development in 2015, the organization aims to inspire global action and investment in education.
Chaired by United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown and led by a group of esteemed leaders who are advised by expert panels on youth, technology, finance, and health, and an all-star secretariat, The Commission is doing just that, engaging a network of 30 research institutions, over 300 partners in more than 100 countries, and countless members of civil society.
Progress Made and Yet to Be Had
As a result of The Commission's activism, commitments to the education of young people, especially the marginalized and most vulnerable, have already been made. During the World Bank's spring meetings in Washington D.C., the World Bank pledged US $2.5 billion over five years to benefit adolescent girls worldwide, an initiative in partnership with Michael Obama and USAID's Let Girls Learn. UNICEF and the World Bank also established an alliance to promote early childhood education and development.
Furthermore, the Education Cannot Wait Fund, which was announced at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May, received an initial endowment of US $100 million from businesses to provide education to children and youth affected by emergencies and conflicts.
Although much has been done, much more needs to be done to close a multi-billion dollar annual gap to ensure that our sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, most who are living in low- and lower-middle income countries, poverty, conflict, and at the margins of society will learn and thrive.
Launching A Learning Generation at the United Nations
Joined by presidents, prime ministers, nobel laureates, leaders of industry, academics, artists, teachers, technologists, students, and social entrepreneurs, The Commission will gather at the United Nations on Sunday, September 18th, 2016 to present United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the co-conveners with a report and agenda for action to realize A Learning Generation.
This event is a culmination of a year of global consultations and continuation of activations to mobilize capital to achieve universal education, enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Join The Education Commission on Sunday, September 18th, 2016 in New York at the United Nations. If you are unable to join in person, join online via Facebook Live and on Twitter. Use #LearningGeneration to interact with the global digital community.
Benedict Joson is a member of the Youth Panel of The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity