January 04, 2018

Seven key things that could change the lives of millions of children and youth in 2018

The future for millions of children across the world could become brighter in 2018

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The next 12 months could be crucial in the fight to get every child in the world into school and learning - we look at some moments and opportunities that might make all the difference.

Donors to do more for the poorest nations

Replenishment funding would create better opportunities for children and youth currently not being educated

Photo credit: Global Partnership for Education

Aid to education has been declining in recent years. Next month there's a big opportunity to reverse that trend and lay down a marker for 2018.

The Global Partnership for Education will hold a major funding conference in Senegal. The aim is to bring in $3.1 billion from donors to finance its work in some of the world's poorest countries.

The GPE works to help developing nations strengthen their education systems and increase the number of children in school and learning. 

The February 2 event is a key moment in the global push to deliver education for all. GPE Chief Executive Officer Alice Albright said: “We are putting every single ounce of energy we have into making the Dakar event a success. Not just because of the GPE’s replenishment but because it is a litmus test moment for the leadership of the world to come together and say we must solve this problem."

With more than 260 million children out of school, the Senegal conference is a chance for the governments of both donor and developing countries to increase their commitments to education.

Bigger emphasis on the under-fives

A severe lack of investment in early years education is putting millions of children at a disadvantage before they even start school

The building blocks for school education come during a child's early years. That's why investment in pre-primary education is crucial.

Theirworld’s #5for5 early childhood development campaign has been calling for early years care to be a priority. We believe every country should spend 10% of its education budget on pre-primary and 10% of humanitarian aid to education should also go to pre-primary.

Now we need those goals to be translated into real commitments from international leaders.

The first opportunity for that to happen will be in April at the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC.

The World Bank said: "There is a growing body of evidence about what programmes work - early childhood nutrition, early stimulation and learning programmes to extend school competition. All improve learning outcomes and ultimately increase adult wages."

More backing for emergencies fund

Children like Jaequon, 10, and Nequan were out of school due to damage caused by hurricanes that hit the Caribbean islands

Photo credit: UNICEF / English

Humanitarian crises - mainly conflicts and natural disasters - leave about 75 million children out of school every year. Amazingly, education's share of aid for such emergencies has been stuck at less than 2%.

To make up for that lack of funding, the Education Cannot Wait fund was launched in 2016. It is currently working in 13 countries, such as Syria, Yemen and Somalia, to promote access to quality education for 3.7 million children and support 20,000 teachers.

This year Education Cannot Wait needs to be fully funded if it is going to continue that work and expand into other affected countries. 

In a special Safe Schools episode of the Better Angels podcast, fund director Yasmine Sherif said: "Young people who have experienced conflict and natural disaster have enormous untapped resources. If they get the chance to be educated, they’ll be the new Mandelas - they will be the ones who go out and change the world."

Action to make schools safer

Safe Schools must be free from attack, military use or other types of violence

An estimated 158 million school-age children and adolescents are living in 24 countries and areas currently affected by armed conflict. Millions had their education disrupted and hundreds of schools were attacked in 2017.

The violence in some countries, such as Syria and Yemen, has been making global headlines. But there are many other "hidden" crises in places like Nigeria, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Action is needed in 2018 to make schools safer for children. The Safe Schools Declaration is a commitment by countries to protect schools from attacks or military use.

So far 72 nations have signed - but France is the only one of the four permanent members of the UN Security Council to do so. The others - the UK, US, China and Russia - need to show leadership by joining them.

Other measures, such as better ways of recording attacks on schools and bringing the perpetrators to justice, should be brought into focus in 2018.

World leaders to unlock $10bn a year in funding

The G20 leaders took a huge step towards getting every child in the world into school and learning

Photo credit: Education Commission

Even if every developing country increases their investment in education, there still won't be enough money to get every child into school by the year 2030.

That's where a bold new funding initiative comes in. The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) will unlock $10 billion of additional funds every year.

After 10 years of declining funding for education, the leaders of the G20 countries made a dramatic commitment in July to support the idea. It will now be taken forward by Argentina during its year of G20 presidency in 2018. 

The G20 backing came after campaigning by Theirworld and many other leading organisations including ONE, Global Citizen, Save the Children, Avaaz, Islamic Relief, VSO and World Vision.

With the future of millions of young people at stake, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri has said that “nothing is more important for our future than education.”

Promise on educating all Syria refugees to be kept

More needs to be done to reach the goal of all school-aged Syrian refugee children enrolled in formal education

Photo credit: NRC

The Syrian conflict will be seven years old in March. It has left more than 1.75 million children out of school inside Syria and another 1.4 million Syrian school-age refugees living in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Two years ago, international leaders made a promise to get every one of those refugees into school. There has been good progress - but about 500,000 children are still not getting an education.

Theirworld's #YouPromised campaign has been pushing since last year for the pledge to be kept. 

In April, the co-hosts of the original Syria conference in 2016 will meet again in Brussels. This is an opportunity for them to demonstrate how they are going to get those remaining children and adolescents into school in their host countries.

Early last year Priti Patel, who at the time was the United Kingdom's International Development Secretary, said: "The job is only half-done. It is now critical that donors deliver on their long-term funding pledges."

A bridge built between business and youth

Anamika Chakma, 10, is helped by her teacher to learn how to use a computer at Golachhari Government Primary School in Golachhari village, Bangladesh

Photo credit: UNICEF / Mawa

By the year 2030, half of the world’s young people will not have the basic skills they need to get a job. And two billion jobs will be at risk of becoming obsolete because of advances in technology.

The Youth Skills and Innovation initiative was launched last year to help those young people be ready for the jobs of the future.

It brings together youth, industry leaders and experts to create solutions and take action to support the development of “new basic skills” needed by the next generation of innovators, makers and entrepreneurs.

In 2018, the Youth Skills and Innovation Commission will release important recommendations that business can implement to mobilise tangible pledges and action.

Youth will be at the centre of these solutions and developing new ideas to put the next generation on a new course for employment, innovation and opportunity.

We are a global children's charity committed to ending the global education crisis and unleashing the potential of the next generation.

  • Act
  • Related News