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World leaders commit to tackling global education crisis that is holding back millions of children and threatening progress and stability

NEW YORK, 20 September 2017 – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; heads of state of France, Norway, Malawi and Senegal; and other global education leaders today committed to tackling the global ‘education crisis’ holding back millions of children and threatening progress, at a high-level event in New York City.

Around 264 million children and adolescents are not in school and only 1 in 12 young people in low-income countries is on track to gain secondary level skills. Despite some progress in achieving gender equality in the world’s poorest countries, far more girls than boys still do not have access to a quality education.

“Investing in education is the most cost effective way to drive economic development, improve skills and opportunities for young women and men, and unlock progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Financing education is indeed the best investment we can make,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Financing the Future: Education 2030 – aimed at securing political commitment and investment in quality early-childhood, primary and secondary education – was co-hosted by Norway, France, Malawi and Senegal in partnership with the Education Commission, Global Partnership for Education, Malala Fund, ONE Campaign, UNICEF and UNESCO.

“I have decided to set education as a top priority of French development and foreign policy. Education deserves our collective ambition. With Senegal, the UN, GPE, and all our partners, we will increase the global commitments next year at the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar,” said Emmanuel Macron, President of France.

“Education, particularly for girls, is the single most effective investment in sustainable development. This is why Norway has doubled its financial support for education over the last four years,” said Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway. Having been re-elected to another term in office last week, she will continue her engagement for education. Solberg also emphasized the importance of national ownership, stating that “The most important work lies within each country.” Prime Minister Solberg also pointed out that a successful replenishment for the Global Partnership for Education and further work on establishing an International Finance Facility for Education will be important to filling the external financing gap in education.

“Delivering an education to all – and not just some children – is the civil rights struggle of our time. Confronted by the largest refugee crisis since the close of the Second World War, and with education receiving less than 2% of humanitarian aid, it is vital we marshal the funds to provide an education for all children – especially those left out and left behind: refugee children,” said Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former UK Prime Minister, Education Commission Chair.

“By funding Education Cannot Wait to address these emergencies; supporting the Global Partnership for Education to build strong education systems – and successfully securing its replenishment target so GPE is a $2 billion fund by 2020; and establishing the International Finance Facility for Education for longer-term financing so countries avoid the middle-income trap, we can close the funding gap. Funding our education goal will do far more than place a child at a desk. It will unleash opportunity and hope,” continued Brown.

“Investing in education has a high return, and the benefits flow well beyond the individual. Improved education outcomes, particularly for girls and women, reduce poverty and boost economic prosperity, strengthen health and promote peace and security. We owe it to the children of the world to invest in education now. The upcoming GPE Financing Conference will be an opportunity for donors and developing countries alike to step up their commitments,” said Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia.

“130 million girls are out of school today. They are pushing back against poverty, war and child marriage to go to school. The Sustainable Development Goals were a promise that we would fight with these girls. So far, we have failed. We have big goals, but we will not reach any of them unless we educate girls. If we want to grow economies, improve the air we breathe, promote peace and advance public health, we must invest in girls,” said Malala Yousafzai, Malala Fund co-founder and UN Messenger of Peace.

“If we don’t take action on education now, we risk threatening progress and stability, and further trapping children in cycles of poverty and depravation. We cannot risk giving up on our mission to get every child into school and learning. The world has too much to lose. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the next generation,” said Muzoon Almellehan UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

“Every development success story starts with education. This is why country ownership is at the crux of the 2030 Agenda and the strongest impetus for unlocking progress. From adequate financing to effective learning at all ages, countries hold the reins to making education equitable, inclusive and transformative,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

“Today must be the day that the world turns a corner and tackles the global education emergency. Over 130 million girls are out of school — that’s over 130 million potential engineers, entrepreneurs and politicians whose leadership the world is missing out on. It’s a resource waste of epic proportions and a global crisis that perpetuates poverty. The latest data, from 2015, showed the number of girls missing out on school actually increased for the first time in over a decade,” said Gayle Smith President and CEO of the ONE Campaign.

“Senegal and France today set the ambition, now the world must exceed it.  For donors it starts with fully funding the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait. For other governments it means committing to work towards delivering 20 percent of national budgets to education. For both it means radical new partnerships with civil society and the private sector to deliver significantly better results for the funds spent. This is not just about getting more girls into school, it’s about the women they grow up to be: educated, empowered and employed. ONE’s eight million members around the world will be hustling Governments every step of the way to make sure it happens — over 130 million girls deserve nothing less than our best,” continued Smith.

At the high-level event, held during the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the following commitments were made:

  • The European Union will increase its support for education in crises by dedicating 8 per cent of its humanitarian budget to education in emergencies in 2018, way above the global average of 3.6 per cent.
  • The European Union pledged a further US$13.2 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • Denmark committed US$16.1 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • In the next year, Malala Fund will increase its investment in local educators and activists by US$3 million.
  • The Global Partnership for Education is committed to raising more and better finance, and by 2020 to provide and leverage US$2 billion a year to support 870 million children in 89 countries.
  • Dubai Cares committed US$500,000 to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
  • Hewlett Packard will reach one million learners by 2020, working with Intel to seed 1,700 School Clouds; and through Education Cannot Wait explore the use of technology in crisis-affected countries.

Note to Editors:

The following took part in the event: António Guterres, UN Secretary-General; Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General; Emmanuel Macron, President of France; Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi; Macky Sall, President of Senegal; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and SDG Advocate; Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, former UK Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, Chair, Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia; Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania and Education Commissioner; Heads of State or Government, business leaders, foundations and civil society; Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO; Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; Malala Yousafzai, co-founder of Malala Fund and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education; Muzoon Almellehan, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador; Priyanka Chopra, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador;

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Francyne Harrigan, UN Department of Public Information, [email protected], +1 917 428-7505

Kensuke Matsueda, UN Department of Public Information, [email protected], +1 212 963-0564

Georgina Thompson, UNICEF New York, [email protected], +1 917 238 1559

Alexandra Humme, Global Partnership for Education [email protected] +1 202 492 8890

Ian Koski, ONE Campaign, [email protected], +1 202 714 8423

Trude Måseide, Office of the Prime Minister – Norway [email protected], +47 957 265 10

Lily Gray, UNESCO, [email protected], +1 (202) 374-5443

Reid Lidow, The Education Commission, [email protected], +1 212 521-5433