Save our Future: Invest in Education

We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the greatest disruption of education systems in history, affecting 1.6 billion learners in all countries and all continents.

The statistics are telling of the shock felt by an already fragile education system, grappling with the challenges of a learning crisis, pre-existing disparities, inequalities and the risks of reversing progress towards the global goals.

Today, 75 million children and youth who are trapped in situations of conflict, crises and displacement are among the most vulnerable in the world. They are at even greater risk of exclusion from learning opportunities. Education is their only hope and future.

The grim reality however is that the future of a generation is threatened by the economic impact of the pandemic – potential cutbacks in the share of domestic budgets allocated to education and cuts in international assistance to education. Forecasts show that this generation of students stands to lose an estimated $10 trillion in earnings over time due to COVID-related school closures. As a result, they may never achieve their full education, job, and earnings potential.

Before the crisis hit, low and middle-income countries already faced an education funding gap of $1.5 trillion dollars a year. The gap in education financing globally could increase by 30% because of the crisis.

As we start to rebuild the world, it is critical that education is at the heart of international solidarity efforts, from debt management and stimulus packages to global humanitarian appeals and official development assistance. Recovery packages without education don’t hold ground.

Education must be part of stimulus packages and education budgets need to be protected and increased. This is because schools will need more funds, not less – for health and safety measures, for teacher training, for integrating technology, for strengthening distance learning provision, for being better prepared for resurgence and future crises.

National authorities and the international community need to protect education financing through: strengthen domestic revenue mobilization, preserve the share of expenditure for education as a top priority and address inefficiencies in education spending; strengthen international coordination to address the debt crisis; and protecti official development assistance (ODA) for education.

If we fail to invest in education in emergencies, we are setting the world on the course of more exclusion, inequality and polarization.

Governments and the international community has to act together NOW to protect and promote investment in education. We must seize this opportunity to reimagine and reboot education in bold ways, developing a new vision for children in the decade ahead. We cannot wait. We cannot procrastinate. We must save our future today.