As world leaders gather virtually and in person at the start of today‘s Global Education Summit, ONE is urging them to not waste this crucial opportunity to make a dent in the global learning crisis. The Lost Potential Tracker shows that every day, over 193,000 10-year-olds do not gain basic literacy skills. That‘s 70 million children — or more than half of the world’s 10-year-olds — potentially affected by the end of 2021. By 2030, the crisis could affect over 750 million children. This will hit Africa particularly hard, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 40% of the children at risk.
Why age 10 matters
Age 10 is a critical milestone at which children should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn. Being able to do so sets them up for a lifetime of success. Yet, over the past six years, over 411 million children have failed to gain the basic literacy skills expected of a 10-year-old.
Since COVID-19 began, two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries have cut their education budgets. The pandemic threatens to set aid to education back by six years, or a decline of 12%. As the world‘s only education partnership and fund to ensure quality education in lower-income countries, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has helped to get over 160 million children into school since 2002. It‘s imperative that we see a successful fully-funded replenishment conference.
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Targeted effective investment
In order to stop the education crisis from becoming a catastrophe, we need to see greater investment in education and ensure that this funding is spent effectively, with a focus on improving foundational literacy and targeting the most marginalised.
Firstly, donors must commit to at least $5 billion — which is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions they have spent for their economic response to the pandemic. Secondly, we need developing countries‘ partners to commit to 20% of their domestic budget to be allocated to education. Just $1 billion to low-income countries can help set over 8.6 million children on a better path.
If this isn‘t addressed urgently, it will have a devastating impact on the global economy for decades to come and risks the development of the next cohort of doctors, scientists, and leaders where they are needed most. Let‘s not wait another five years to get this right