Three years of progress towards delivering the Learning Generation
Since its inception in 2015, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity has worked tirelessly to develop a renewed investment case and financing pathway for achieving educational opportunity for all children and young people. Having built momentum over the past several years, our 27 Commissioners and dozens of partners across the globe are now on the cusp of generating the largest investment in education in history.
Fast pace and high impact
Strengthening global evidence
- The Commission engaged 38 research organizations who produced more than 55 cutting-edge research papers to guide education policy. The papers were used to help shape The Learning Generation report and also contributed to subsequent global policy publications including the World Development Report 2018 on education.
- More than 300 partners in 105 countries engaged in consultations to feed into The Learning Generation report.
- The Learning Generation report and executive summary were produced in seven languages, distributed worldwide, downloaded more than 12,000 times in the past year, and is influencing global discussions around the improvement of education systems.
- A TED Talk on the Learning Generation was featured on TED.com and has reached 1.3 million viewers around the world. Our recommendations have influenced strategies of international organizations and policy discussions at the country level.
- In 2017, we launched an online campaign to convey the power of education and challenges still facing the many children out of school or failing to learn. Since then, the Learning Generation video has been viewed more than 2 million times and generated nearly 12,000 visits to LearningGeneration.org.
Developing a major new financing mechanism
- The UN Secretary-General presented the Commission’s recommendation for a new US$10 billion per year International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) which, in turn, saw presidents and prime ministers acknowledge and call for the advancement of this breakthrough financing mechanism in their joint G20 Leaders’ Declaration. IFFEd is now under development and being taken forward under the Argentine G20 presidency.
Countries committed to reform
- High-level visits made to more than 20 countries to share the Learning Generation recommendations; all countries have committed to adopting the Commission’s reforms and making education a top priority.
- Sixteen countries were trained in a new results-based delivery approach in Nairobi (May 2017) and Seoul (December 2017). Delivery reforms are underway in several countries in Africa as part of the Commission’s Pioneer Country Initiative. Other countries in Asia and Latin America have been introduced to the approach and are advancing work to take these reforms forward.
- Our new Education Workforce Initiative will help develop concrete options for policymakers to diversify, expand, and strengthen the education workforce to meet the changing demands of the 21st century and to improve learning outcomes.
- An Education Workforce Report to help rethink new approaches to education workforce reform will be published early next year. The report will feature amreview of recent evidence, lessons from other sectors, and in-depth examples of how effective education workforce reform or innovative approaches have been implemented.
Building the evidence
First, the Commission set out to understand the bottlenecks impeding our progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 – the world’s commitment to “ensuring inclusive and quality education for all ” by 2030. We began by working with numerous research institutions across the globe, generating more than 55 publicly available research papers and new data. Together, this research revealed a sobering finding: the world faces an urgent learning crisis and if current funding trends hold, by 2030 some 200 million children of school-going age will remain shut out, about 400 million will see their schooling cut short before even reaching age 12, and more than 800 million – half of the world’s youth – will leave school without any qualifications of value to the modern labor market.
The Commission’s research has had a significant impact on the academic community and has influenced the global education conversation amongst researchers, international policymakers, and civil society. Numerous international organizations, corporate foundations, and advocacy campaigns have responded to the Commission’s evidence-based calls to action on a number of issues ranging from progressive universalism to increased financing and domestic investment in education.
Alerting the world about the learning crisis
The culmination of this research was the September 2016 publication of our report, The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world. This report, presented to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the 2016 General Assembly, details an action plan for the largest expansion of educational opportunity in history. In the time since its launch, The Learning Generation has been used to make policy recommendations, advance advocacy efforts, and has earned its place as a primary source document for policymakers and education experts around the world. In its electronic form, the report and executive summary have been downloaded over 12,000 times and the report has been cited widely in the media and academic publications. We have reached millions of people with our messages through our social media channels, video campaigns (our launch video featuring Shakira and other Commissioners generated over 1.2 million views and this year’s Learning Generation video has more than 2 million views), live forums, op-eds by our Commissioners, the launch of LearningGeneration.org, and a highly successful Learning Generation TED talk.
Ensuring all young people are in school and learning within a generation
The Commission’s report sets out a vision for the “Learning Generation” – getting all young people in school and learning within a generation. We found that if countries progress at the pace of the 25% fastest improvers, we can significantly improve education outcomes and give every child an opportunity to learn within a generation.
The Commission determined that it needed to focus on advocating for more and better finance to fill funding gaps. At the same time, our Commissioners used their powerful voices in the media, at international policy conferences, at public events, and on their social media platforms to call for reforms that would ensure funds were used effectively and results would show that children and young people are, in fact, learning. Learning Generation messages have been shared in diverse ways, ranging from opinion pieces in global media outlets to youth and civil society consultations to social media campaigns to a TED talk that has reached millions of viewers around the world.
As our Chair, Commissioners, and experts met with world leaders and policymakers, they articulated how, in the existing international financing scenario, even with increased investment in education, there will still be significant funding gaps. The Commission made the call to increase the funding target for the Global Partnership for Education’s budget to $2 billion per year by 2020. On February 2nd in Dakar, leaders stepped up to the challenge and nearly doubled their commitments to GPE from US$1.3 billion over the past three years to US$2.3 billion for 2018-2020. This unprecedented financial support for education signals a new momentum and potential for countries and governments to address the critical funding needed to achieve SDG 4.
Designing the largest investment plan in education history: IFFEd
As a key part of the solution, the Commission introduced an innovative International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) which would pool donor resources to multiply their impact. The Facility would also make it possible for low- and middle-income countries to take out loans for education at favorable rates. IFFEd could create up to US$10 billion in additional annual funding by 2020. The 2017 Group of 20 Leaders’ Declaration acknowledged and supported IFFEd, and pledged to act upon it during this year’s G20 Summit in Argentina.
Building a movement: the Pioneer Country Initiative
Another important part of the Commission’s work has been helping countries deliver on their education promises. Through our Pioneer Country Initiative, our Commissioners engaged with more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who have committed to making education a top domestic budget priority. Soon some of these countries, starting with Uganda, will embark on an intense process to define goals, create consensus, and deliver quality education – while tracking progress and adjusting work as needed.
Strengthening the education workforce to prepare for the future
The Education Commission has also put a high priority on efforts to tackle teacher shortages and highlighted the need for young people to learn 21st-century skills to adapt to an ever-changing job market. Later this month, the Commission will launch the Education Workforce Initiative (EWI). Drawing on evidence from in-depth case studies on how education workforce reform is implemented and examples of innovation, this initiative will offer concrete options co-developed with country partners to diversify, expand, and strengthen the education workforce to meet changing demands and improve learning outcomes.
The way forward
While the Commission’s research and recommendation mandate from its co-conveners concluded with the delivery of its report to the United Nations Secretary-General, the implementation task remains. Commissioners and other education champions are working together to ensure the ambitions for Sustainable Development Goal 4 are not abandoned.
Our Commissioners are uniquely positioned to communicate the growing global education crisis and possible solutions. We are excited to continue our work in 2018, a year that could mark a turning point for global education. In the coming months, we will work to launch IFFEd to start filling education’s funding gap. Our Pioneer Countries will be able to demonstrate results from their reforms and investments, and a new effort will launch to revolutionize the education workforce – exploring how the role of teachers and support staff can be redefined to ensure that children have access to the highest quality education possible.
We look forward to the work ahead and hope you will join us on this journey to create the Learning Generation.