Ahead of the UN General Assembly, actor Pearl Mackie - who provides the voiceover for our new video - says: "Education should never be a game of chance."
Theirworld has created a new Snakes and Ladders game to highlight the education crisis facing millions of children around the world. Players are confronted with obstacles that prevent them going to school – from being a refugee to classrooms shutting because of Covid-19.
Keys and Locks: The Education Game has been launched to raise awareness of the global education crisis ahead of next month’s United Nations General Assembly.
As world leaders prepare to meet virtually to discuss how to address the biggest challenges, Theirworld wants to ensure that education is top of the agenda and is kept “off the chopping block” as governments and donors re-assess their budgets post-Covid-19.
We have sent a copy of the game to 10 world leaders who we believe have the power to make a difference to the global children’s education crisis by the end of this year - including Baroness Liz Sugg, the UK’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education and Minister for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development.
The game is backed by Doctor Who star Pearl Mackie, who provides the voiceover for a video to promote it. The actor, who is a Theirworld supporter, said: "Education should never be a game of chance. Every child, no matter who they are or where they live, should be given a safe place to learn and the opportunity for a brighter future.
“It’s unacceptable that for millions of children around the world, education is out of reach. We all share a responsibility to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not cost a generation of children their futures. It’s time for decisive action to ensure that a quality education is possible for every child on the planet."
A digital version of the game, which is a twist on the classic Snakes and Ladders, will be available next week on Theirworld's website. Players roll the dice and move their counters around the board, landing on spaces that hinder or help their education.
If they land at the bottom of a ladder, they move up and acquire a key to unlock an educational opportunity. This might be because they live in a country which invests in pre-primary education or because they have been lucky enough to receive digital training.
Help to Unlock Big Change
Theirworld is holding a digital event on Monday, September 21, where world leaders, philanthropists and youth advocates will discuss what action needs to be taken to end the global education crisis. Register here to take attend.
If they land on a down arrow, they are faced with a barrier that locks them out of education and they must slide down the board. This might be because they are a refugee or because they have been forced to leave school to work or to get married.
Even before the pandemic, there were 260 million children around the world not in school. This crisis has now deepened. It is estimated that the number of children without physical schools to attend now stands at around a billion - more than 60% of the world’s children.
It is believed that budget cuts to education and rising poverty caused by Covid-19 could force almost 10 million children out of school permanently by the end of this year.
Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown said: “We firmly believe that quality education is the key to unlocking a child’s potential. Education should never be a game of chance.
"But for millions of children currently locked out of school, education is just like the roll of a dice.
“This is the most challenging moment for global education for many decades. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, more than half of the world’s children left primary school with little or no literacy and numeracy skills.
“The pandemic has only created more pressure. 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 the world prepares to meet, albeit in new circumstances, for the United Nation General Assembly, the need for strong leadership and investment in education is more important than ever.”