MEXICO CITY – Over the last 15 years, the number of students worldwide has increased by some 243 million, a reflection of governments’ commitment to expanding access to education. But some countries have made far more progress than others, not only by increasing the share of young people in school, but also by guaranteeing the quality of that education. Closing this education gap must be a top priority.
The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, of which I am a proud member, is working to do just that. Led by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is currently the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, the Education Commission operates on the strong belief that education is a fundamental human right, and the route to substantially improved living standards.
The Commission is co-convened by Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malawian President Peter Mutharika, and the director-general of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. And it draws on the experience of many types of leaders – including former heads of state, legislators, successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople, artists, and academics – from around the world.
There is also a youth panel that elicits the perspectives of distinguished young people. That panel is chaired by Kenya’s Kennedy Odede, who developed an educational model that combats extreme poverty and gender inequality through education, and Guyana’s Rosemarie Ramitt, an advocate for young people with disabilities. Also on the panel is Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who courageously defied the Taliban to campaign for girls’ access to education.