Unlock Big Change for education at the UN General Assembly 2020

As world leaders gather (virtually) for the UN General Assembly at the end of September, Theirworld is calling on them to prioritise education, particularly financing for education. Covid-19 has affected the education of over 90% of the world's children and further worsened the global education crisis, but world leaders can and should choose to prioritise investing in education as a core part of recovery efforts. Learn more and sign our Call to Action here.

Education is the Key to Unlocking Big Change

Education is the key to unlocking children’s futures. Yet for years, educational systems have not served the needs of all, with many of the poorest and most vulnerable locked out of learning opportunities. A return to a pre-Covid ‘normal’ will mean reverting to an agenda that was already failing millions, with more than half of the world’s children leaving primary school with little or no literacy and numeracy skills, and 258 million not having a school to go to on a daily basis. With school closures caused by the pandemic, that number is now at about a billion - over 60% of the world’s children. It is estimated that 30 million additional children will never return to school after schools reopen, with girls, the most vulnerable and the poorest worst affected. 

As we approach this year’s United Nations (UN) General Assembly - where world leaders have the opportunity to make new commitments and pledges - we must acknowledge that this education crisis is a choice. It reflects the failure of donors and governments to properly invest in and prioritise children’s education.

In the five years since the Sustainable Development Goals were agreed at the UN, the education financing gap - the amount of investment on top of existing expenditure needed to ensure that every child is guaranteed a quality education - has grown by 18%, now standing at $148bn. With the World Bank calculating that the pandemic will see the financing gap grow by a third, there is a significant risk that the entire framework of the SDGs - and the promises made to children in 2015 - will come undone well before the target achievement date of 2030.

There is an alternative way forward, but it will require courage and ingenuity from world leaders. Yes, there will be more pressure on budgets now post-Covid, but it is imperative that education is prioritised. With bold action from developing countries, bilateral and multilateral donors - supported and encouraged by civil society - we are convinced that we can change course and become the first generation ever to provide a place in school for every child on the planet.

Register now for our "Unlock Big Change – Education: the key to a better future" event.

You will have the opportunity to attend the Main Event, hear from world leaders, and network in real-time digitally with participants from NGOs, youth organisations, civil society, business, foundations, governments, international organizations, and academia. You can also participate in topical breakout sessions to interact firsthand with global education advocates and experts. 

Monday, 21 September 2020
Main Event: 10:00 New York / 15:00 London
Doors open at 8:00 am New York / 13:00 London for networking and expo

Education shouldn't be a game of chance

Education is facing even greater challenges because of Covid-19. If we’re going to deliver the Global Goals in ten years’ time, then world leaders need to make decisions right now that are going to make a real difference, and make sure that education isn’t a game of chance. 

Call on world leaders to commit to these three solutions by the end of 2020 and make sure that education isn’t a game of chance for children worldwide:

1 - Investing at least 10% of education budgets into early childhood education
2 - Donor countries pledging $5bn to the new International Finance Facility for Education (IFFED)
3 - Committing to financing education in emergencies - at least 4% of humanitarian aid. 

Take action - If you believe education shouldn't be a game of chance - then be part of our campaign. And together we can make a difference.


Count me in

The change we need to see

Theirworld has identified three key ways in which the education crisis can begin to be addressed by the end of 2020: 

1 - Investing at least 10% of education budgets into early childhood education

Children’s brains develop rapidly in the first five years of their lives. By the age of five there is already a clear learning divide between the richest and poorest children, which only widens and will now do so more because of Covid-19. Investing in pre-primary education is vital.

2 - Donor countries pledging $5bn to the new International Finance Facility for Education (IFFED)

Financing is the block that all future success hangs on. IFFEd is a viable solution, supported by partner countries and multilateral development banks, to break the cycle of chronic international underinvestment in education. We are calling on world leaders to make the largest investment in education history. 

3 - Committing to financing education in emergencies

Prior to the pandemic, 75 million children affected by conflict and crisis were denied access to a quality education. We are asking donors to meet the internationally agreed target of allocating at least 4% of humanitarian aid expenditure on education. 

2020's education changemakers

At Theirworld, we have identified ten critical people who can make commitments now or before the end of 2020 to unlock big change for education. These are changemakers who have the opportunity to make decisions and interventions that can make an immediate difference to millions of children around the world. These are the champions of global education, who with our support can make sure that education is placed at the heart of the post-Covid agenda, where it belongs. They are from different types of countries, at different stages of development, and from organisations that work all over the world. But what they share in common is the understanding, the ability and the desire to take decisions in the next few months that will ensure we don’t condemn this generation of children and youth to damaged futures.

Theirworld has identified three key ways in which the education crisis can be addressed by the end of 2020. Join us in calling on these ten champions of global education to make positive change in these key areas before the end of the year - to help set us on course for achieving the Global Goals by 2030.

1. Dag-Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, Norway

 Norway is a generous and forward looking development donor, and one of the leading donors to global education. Joining the new International Financing Facility for Education would allow Norway to make an even bigger impact and allow education financing to go much further in middle-income countries.  

2. Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development

Germany is among the leading development donors overall  and education is one of the main priorities for Germany’s aid programme. Joining the new International Financing Facility for Education would allow Germany  to make an even bigger impact and allow education financing to go much further in middle income countries.   

3. Franz Fayot, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs and Minister of the Economy, Luxembourg 

Luxembourg is one of the world’s most generous development donors, and contributes 1% of its Gross National Income (GNI) for development assistance. Luxembourg should ensure education is a key priority for its development programme. Joining the new International Financing Facility for Education would allow Luxembourg  to make an even bigger impact and allow education financing to go much further in middle income countries.   

4. Rasmus Prehn, Minister for Development Cooperation, Denmark

Denmark is among the world’s most generous development donors. With an increase in crisis and emergency situations, Denmark's support is needed more than ever. Denmark can make a decisive difference for children this year by contributing to the Education Cannot Wait coalition to support the education of children in emergency situations and by helping education finance to go further in middle income countries by joining the new International Financing Facility

5. Baroness Sugg CBE, Minister in the  Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Special Envoy for Girls' Education

The creation of a new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) means UK aid is changing. But education should remain a top priority. In this moment of crisis the UK should increase its financial contribution to early childhood education and increase support for the education of children in emergency situations. 

6. Julia Gillard and Minister Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Chair & Vice Chair, Global Partnership for Education 

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is one of the largest global funds for education. GPE’s 2021-2025 strategy should include clear commitments to increasing the share of financing for early years education. GPE and its partner countries should work towards allocating 10% of their domestic and development education budgets for early childhood education.  

7. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Bangladesh 

Bangladesh is currently developing its education sector plan. This provides a real opportunity for Bangladesh to stand up as a champion for early childhood education and work towards allocating 10% of its education budget in early childhood education.  

8. Getahun Mekuria Kuma, Minister of Education, Ethiopia 

As Ethiopia develops its next  education sector plan Minister Mekerua should cease this opportunity to stand up as a champion for early childhood education; work towards allocating 10% of Ethiopia’s education budget in early childhood education and encourage other countries to make similar commitments. 

9. Mallam Adamu Adamu, Minister of Education, Nigeria 

As Nigeria develops its next  education sector plan Minister Adamu should cease this opportunity to stand up as a champion for early childhood education; work towards allocating 10% of Nigeria’ education budget in early childhood education and encourage other countries to make similar commitments. 

10. Janez Lenarcic, Commissioner for Crisis Management, European Commission 

The European Commission (EC) aims to protect 10% of the EC’s overall budget for education. The EC should formalise this commitment and encourage the Directorate-General Development and Cooperation (DEVCO) to give EUR 40 million to education over the next three years. 

Register now for our event "Unlock Big Change – Education: the key to a better future"

Monday, 21 September 2020
Main Event: 10:00 New York / 15:00 London
Doors open at 8:00 am New York / 13:00 London for networking and expo

  • Act