As world leaders converged on Davos for the 2017 World Economic Forum (WEF), the Learning Generation Commissioners were working alongside governments, businesses and multilateral organizations to advance the Commission recommendations.

At the start of the Forum, Commission Chair Gordon Brown was invited by multilateral and regional development bank heads to present the Commission’s Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) investment mechanism. Following an initial meeting in October 2016 at the World Bank/IMF Fall Meetings, the WEF gathering presented an opportunity to further advance the Commission’s recommendation with the development banks.

Commission Chair Gordon Brown speaks to regional and multilateral development bank heads. From left to right: Jim Kim (World Bank), Takehiko Nakao (Asian Development Bank), Gordon Brown (Education Commission) and Akinwumi Adesina (African Development Bank)

Commission Chair Gordon Brown speaks with multilateral development bank presidents.

On the second day of the World Economic Forum, Commission Chair Brown and Commissioner Shakira Mebarak met to discuss early childhood education (ECD). The day prior, Mebarak was acknowledged for her humanitarian work and received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award. Accepting the award, she remarked “We should be devastated that, in 2017, there are still 250 million kids under five who are still at risk, who will likely be stunted physically and intellectually” before calling for an expanded “understanding of the importance of investing in early childhood development.” The Learning Generation report calls for investing early in education, including two free years of pre-primary education for every child.     

Also on January 17th, Commissioner and GAVI Chair Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala joined Michael Feigelson (Bernard van Leer Foundation), Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) and James Heckman (University of Chicago) on a panel introduced by Mebarak. The discussion explored “Human Development is Economic Development: Early Childhood Programs and Skill Development,” and Dr. Okonjo-Iweala conveyed Commission report findings.     

During the week, Commission Co-Convener Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, highlighted “the urgency of rethinking education and skills systems to ensure both universal access and relevant learning for uncertain and complex times,” as reported by UNESCO. Fellow Commissioner Helle Thorning-Schmidt also championed the Learning Generation in various sessions throughout the week.

On Thursday, Commissioner Jakaya Kikwete, the former President of Tanzania, met with the Chair, fellow Commissioners and Directors Justin van Fleet and Liesbet Steer to discuss the Pioneer Country Initiative’s progress. Since being launched in November, high-level delegation trips led by Kikwete have been held in Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Namibia with visits scheduled to resume later this month.

The World Economic Forum marked a strong start for the Commission early in the new year.