World leaders listen to young people and launch multi-billion dollar education finance plan

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, at the launch of IFFEd with UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed

Global Youth Ambassadors, Gordon Brown, Let me learn

After years of campaigning by Theirworld and our Global Youth Ambassadors, the International Finance Facility for Education will unlock learning for millions of children.

It was a remarkable turning point for global education. After years of campaigning by Theirworld and young activists, world leaders made a game-changing decision that will unlock learning for millions of children. 

At the historic Transforming Education Summit, they launched the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd). It will generate billions of dollars to help some of the poorest countries improve their school systems. 

Theirworld’s campaigning for IFFEd began in 2016 and included our Global Youth Ambassadors (GYAs) delivering a petition with 1.5 million signatures to the United Nations. It culminated in the #LetMeLearn campaign this year, with young people around the world demanding urgent action on education funding. 

“It’s been an incredible journey for Theirworld and our supporters,” said Theirworld President Justin van Fleet. “Six years and 1.5 million signatures later, the IFFEd announcement will unlock billions in funding to help children globally. Congratulations and thanks to all who made this possible.” 

The summit, held in New York as part of the UN General Assembly, included a special youth day attended by several of our GYAs. A #LetMeLearn video featuring the voices and experiences of Global Youth Ambassadors (GYAs) and other young people was played at the summit’s Leaders Day on Monday. Watch it here. 

The IFFEd announcement also came days after more than 100 world leaders and economists signed an open letter calling for the initiative to be established as part of a global education funding plan. 

Donor governments – including Sweden, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands – and multilateral development banks came together to make IFFEd a reality. It will initially concentrate on countries in Africa and Asia, providing an initial $2 billion from 2023.  

Education financing must be the number one priority for governments. It is the single most important investment any country can make in its people and its future.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General


IFFEd will then expand globally and could unlock an extra $10 billion of additional financing for education and skills for 700 million children and youth by 2030. 

IFFEd is a ground-breaking funding mechanism that targets the urgent needs of lower-middle-income countries. They are home to more than half of the world’s children and youth and where three in four young people leave school without basic skills. 

It uses a mixture of guarantees and donor grants to provide affordable education financing for governments. IFFEd also multiplies donor dollars seven times more than traditional aid. 

In a world of shortages, let’s deliver a surplus of hope. That’s the power of an education. Young people have spoken, saying Let Me Learn. Now, having said we will listen, we must also act.

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Also at the summit

It was announced at the Transforming Education Summit that five world leaders will become “global champions for education transformation”.

They are: Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of Qatar; Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone; Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina; Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan; and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. 

More than 130 countries attending the summit committed to rebooting their education systems and accelerating action to end the learning crisis. 


Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General, said: “Ultimately the transformation of education will only happen if it is demanded by people. And if there is one takeaway from this summit, it is that young people and young students will be the heartbeat of this effort. A public movement for the transformation of education has begun to emerge. It must be nurtured, it must be supported.” 

After Leaders Day at the summit, Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio spoke at Theirworld’s reception event, which brought together young people and leaders. He praised the message of the #LetMeLearn campaign and said: “The voices of young people remind us every day why as leaders and decision-makers we must stay committed to addressing the global learning crisis.”

Theirworld’s Global Youth Ambassadors, who spread the #LetMeLearn message at the summit and other events during the UN General Assembly, said: “We were in the room. We were listened to and now there is action. Our task is to ensure this is delivered – and when we see children walking into classrooms for the first time then we know this will all have been worth it.”

The power of youth: our GYAs spread #LetMeLearn message

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