A bold, new vision for education


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This is the first post in a monthly series about how we ensure children are learning in school. We’re kicking off with an overview of the evidence pointing to a global learning crisis and how we can solve it. Stay tuned for more stories that dive deeper into the evidence and our solutions for better global education outcomes.

Improving education is central to our work here at ONE. To have the biggest impact, we wanted to identify what the greatest challenges facing education are. Last year, we took some time to speak to our partners and education experts on the African continent and dive deep into the issue. By looking through the data and working with experts, we identified the global learning crisis as the most pressing educational issue of our time. We’re explaining what this means and why we’re taking on a new strategy to get kids learning.

By looking through the data and working with experts, we identified the global learning crisis as the most pressing educational issue of our time.

Reflecting on the past: Getting more kids in school

We can’t achieve our mission of ending extreme poverty by 2030 without ensuring all children are in school and learning; if everyone completed secondary education, we could cut the number of people living in poverty worldwide in half.

Over the past few years, we’ve achieved a lot to get more kids the education they need. Some of the biggest highlights include working with global partners to help raise $2.5 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, which is ensuring hundreds of thousands of kids get a quality education in some of the poorest countries in the world; telling world leaders that all #GirlsCount by counting the 130 million girls out-of-school globally; convening with key stakeholders to discuss the role education should play in skills like creativity, critical thinking and collaboration; and advocating for better education data, because we can’t fix what we can’t measure.

All of these wins are critical in our ongoing fight to improve learning, but there’s a lot of work left to be done.

The current education landscape: The global learning crisis

In 2020, as we gear up for more work on education, we’re taking stock of where there has been progress and what challenges remain.

The world has made great progress when it comes to ensuring kids are in school

Today, more children are in school than ever before and children are staying in school longer.

258 million children are still out of school

Worldwide, over a quarter of a billion kids are still missing school, with poverty being the key barrier to educational access. On average, children from wealthy families are significantly more likely to finish school than children whose families are in poverty. But this gap looks different from country to country. For example, India experiences a primary completion rate of 96% for the richest and 82% for the poorest children. Meanwhile, in neighboring Pakistan, completion rates are 75% for the richest, but only 35% for the poorest children.

The global learning crisis: the most pressing educational issue of our time

617 million children globally cannot read, even though two-thirds of them are attending school

Although more kids are in school than ever before, schooling does not mean learning. 617 million children globally cannot read, even though two-thirds of them are attending school. This crisis is the worst in sub-Saharan Africa, where only 1 in every 10 children can read a simple sentence at age 10. This is a critical age for children because they should be switching from learning to read to reading to learn. If children are not learning to read by age 10, it can limit their potential and have consequences for the rest of their lives.

Countries and donors both need to invest more in education

Education financing will need to increase 150% by 2030 in order to get all children learning. But more investment in education isn’t enough; we need to make sure money is being spent effectively and going toward the outcomes we want.

Looking forward: A bold new vision for education

As we gear up for another decade of advocacy, we’re focusing our education work on addressing the biggest education challenge of our time: the global learning crisis. With more kids in school than ever before, it’s vital to make sure that children are learning the skills they need while in school.

With this new education direction, we’ll be working to improve learning outcomes by:

  • advancing policy solutions to combat the global learning crisis, with an emphasis on making sure that all children can read by age 10.
  • ensuring there is more and better data on learning so we can better measure the extent of the crisis.
  • increasing education financing to get every child in school and learning, while also ensuring that every new investment is helping to improve learning outcomes.
  • building on the gains of the last decade, continuing to work on access to education in a context-specific manner where it remains a challenge, and with the ultimate goal of ensuring kids are learning in school.

We are excited to launch our new, evidence-driven education direction. Over the next few months, we’ll be diving deep into the learning crisis and how we can work to fix it. By becoming a ONE supporter, you can join us in making sure that every child gets the education they need!

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