Even before COVID-19 hit, the world was experiencing a global learning crisis: 90% of children in low-income countries could not read and understand a simple sentence by their 10th birthday. In Nigeria, three-quarters of primary teachers could not pass a fourth grade test.
The onset of COVID-19 is exacerbating this: at its peak, the pandemic pushed 1.6 billion children out of school. 8 out of 10 children surveyed in 46 countries reported that they have learnt very little or not at all since COVID-19 began. This lost potential is catastrophic, not just for individuals, but for future economies and generations. The cost of lost potential from lack of learning is equivalent to US$129 billion per year or 10% of global spending on education.
To avoid turning the global learning crisis into a catastrophe, investment in education is necessary. But COVID-19 is threatening a deprioritization of education in budgets, and the economic impact could mean less education financing overall. In low- and middle-income countries, there could be an education financing gap of US$77 billion over the next 18 months.
How GPE ensures quality education for all children
All is not lost. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the world’s only education partnership and fund dedicated exclusively to ensuring quality education in lower-income countries. Since its creation in 2002, GPE has contributed to getting 160 million more children in school. During COVID-19, they disbursed US$500 million in the global education response. And on 12 October, GPE launched their investment case calling for at least US$5 billion between 2021-2025 to ensure every child learns in the classroom and therefore can unlock the future we want.
An investment in GPE has the potential to be catalytic and to show demonstrable results. A US$5 billion investment over the next five years will be instrumental in ensuring that 175 million children can learn in 87 lower-income countries, in getting 88 million more children in school, and in leveraging additional funding for education.
But the benefits don’t end there. In the long term, it can contribute substantially to poverty reduction, better health, and empowerment for girls by ensuring that 18 million people are lifted out of poverty, that 3 million lives are saved, and preventing early marriage for 2 million girls.
Furthermore, GPE is trying to build back an even better world by eliminating inefficiencies in education spending, encouraging domestic investment in education in lower-income countries, leveraging innovative financing for education, and bringing the education community together to think through innovative solutions to the global learning crisis.
#RaiseYourHand for education
World leaders have a choice: they can choose to live in a world where inaction will cause 33 million children to lose the chance to read and 825 million school-age children to lose the chance to achieve the necessary skills for success. Or they can choose to meet GPE’s need for US$5 billion and ensure the children of today become the future doctors, innovators, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Our future hangs in the balance.
Will you join the campaign to #FundEducation so that we can guarantee a quality education for every child? Will you join us to #RaiseYourHand for education?