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Global Education Summit: What did ONE do?

Campaign update

The world has been experiencing a global learning crisis: 90% of children in low-income countries could not read and understand a simple story by their 10th birthday. And then COVID-19 hit and made things worse. At the peak of the pandemic 1.6 billion children were pushed out of school, and 8 out of 10 children surveyed in 46 countries said that they learned very little or not at all since the pandemic began.

What did we do?

We kicked off our campaign in support of a fully funded Global Partnership for Education (GPE) by launching a petition accompanied by a quiz to see if you could score better than a 10-year-old, as 10 is an important milestone at which children should be transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn.

Our UK team visited Westminster to deliver the petition to Wendy Morton MP, Minister at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and Helen Grant MP, Special Envoy for Girls‘ Education.

UK Youth Ambassadors in Parliament Sq. London, UK (July 2021)

Our France team and activists conducted 15 meetings with MPs who agreed to endorse our campaign. They also delivered a message to President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the Generation Equality Forum, including a stunt outside the iconic Eiffel Tower:

Parvis des droits de l’Homme. Trocadero, Paris, France
Photographer: Julie Glassberg (June 2021)

Our US team and activists (virtually) conducted 60 meetings with members of Congress to discuss the importance of global education and GPE, and acting CEO Tom Hart also “Raised His Hand” for education in a GPE panel discussion with David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Education of Sierra Leone.

African colleagues joined more than 80 civil society organizations, 14 MPs, six artists, and 43 individuals on the continent to ask African heads of state to protect domestic public financing of education in their countries with an open letter. Our ONE Champions also took part in stunts in Nairobi, Kenya and Bamako, Mali to promote our message. They also met with Deputy Chief of Staff of the President Ruth Kagia at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi, to deliver the letter and petition.

ONE Champions in Nairobi, Kenya (July 2021)

ONE Champions at the University of Bamako, Mali (July 2021)

ONE Champions with Deputy Chief of Staff of the President Ruth Kagia, Nairobi, Kenya (July 2021)

A massive thank you to the 85,000+ people who signed our petition, took our quiz, showed support on social media, sent letters and messages to ask governments to invest in education!

Lost Potential Tracker

To measure the global learning crisis scale, the ONE Campaign, GPE, and Save the Children launched the Lost Potential Tracker. This interactive tool combines World Bank and UNESCO data on learning poverty with UN Population estimates to track, in real-time, the increasing number of children who are unable to read and understand a simple sentence by age 10 since the SDGs were established in 2015. In 2021 alone, over 70 million children, equivalent to the combined population of Senegal and Kenya, will fail to gain basic literacy skills by their 10th birthday.

Learning in Lockdown

As part of the Lost Potential Tracker, we highlighted stories of children and teachers around the world who are affected by the crisis. We met 10-year-old Esther Okore from Nigeria, Teresia Njeri Ngugi from Kenya, and Bahati Bugiri and Nankafu Ndamwenge Furaha from the DRC. We also caught up with children and teachers in our “Learning in Lockdown” video series, like Hassan, a 12-year-old student from Senegal:

We also asked children from around the world to send a letter to world leaders on the importance of reading and share their favourite books!

What happened at the Summit?

At the Summit, we were lucky to have   Sikemi Okunrinboye, a UK Youth Ambassador, take part in the opening of the in-person section. Selina Nkoile, a ONE Champion from Kenya also discussed the power of education alongside the likes of Malala, Julia Gillard, and various heads of state. Two other UK Youth Ambassadors, Laura and Agnese, also joined as in-person guests to talk about the importance of global education.

Unfortunately, the outcome of the Summit was disappointing. As Edwin Ikhuoria, Africa Executive Director for ONE stated:

“After all the rhetoric from leaders about the importance of investing in education, this is a decidedly underwhelming result. Although these commitments will help secure the futures of many more children, the reality is that we‘re still $1 billion short of the original target.

“Unfortunately, the report card for leaders after the summit tells an all-too-familiar story – they must do better.”

We must now push leaders to urgently look for new ways to close the financing gap and ensure that budgets are spent in a targeted and efficient manner. We hope you‘ll join us.