The Education Commission participated in a productive series of events in London last week. On Monday, Commissioner and former Prime Minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt helped kick off the Education World Forum (EWF), the world’s largest gathering of education ministers with representation from 90 countries, by delivering the keynote address at a launch event for the Commission’s Learning Generation report. In a room packed with ministers from around the globe, Ms. Thorning-Schmidt lead saying “Education is the most empowering force in the world and the key to opening the door to a better life. All children deserve this special gift of education but too many of them are locked out…We are in the midst of an education crisis and we are running behind on our promise to ensure that every child has a quality education.” She went on to outline Commission findings and recommendations.

helle thorning-schmidt at education world forum speech

Commissioner Helle Thorning-Schmidt holds the Learning Generation report as she gives the keynote address at the 2017 Education World Forum.

Later, Ethiopia’s State Minister of General Education, Dr. Tilaye Gete, gave remarks about the Commission’s Pioneer Country Initiative and said, “we see the Pioneer Country Initiative as a huge opportunity for dramatic change and improved education results. With the great challenge before us to ensure every child’s right to a quality education, Ethiopia welcomes the scope of the Learning Generation vision. It is a great opportunity to build on our country’s priorities and continue strengthening the coordination of partnerships in the education sector. We are eager to become a leading Pioneer Country to focus on a results-based process which can help transform the culture of delivery and accelerate progress.”

Tuesday morning, Commission Director Justin van Fleet addressed the Education Innovation Conference organized by the Economic Policy Group, a research partner of the Education Commission. The topic of discussion was “Education: The best investment the world can make” and Dr. van Fleet used the opportunity to discuss expanded education financing and the Commission’s call for an Education Giving Pledge. Later that day during the “Innovations and Initiatives” session, Commission Director Liesbet Steer presented an overview of the Pioneer Country Initiative to the EWF audience. Dr. Steer chaired a lively discussion on financing education with panelists Michael Gibbons (Wellspring Advisers and International Education Funders Group), Greg Mauro (Learn Capital) and Commissioner Dr. Amel Karboul. Both Mr. Gibbons and Mr. Mauro shared their respective success stories from private sector investment in the education sector while Commissioner Karboul urged the audience to use the Learning Generation report as a tool to negotiate greater allocation of funds to education from donors and to challenge private sector companies to give back to their country.

amel karboul speaking

Commissioner Amel Karboul presents the Learning Generation report at the Education World Forum.

The following day, the British Academy hosted a high-level roundtable event with 25 senior policymakers, representatives from Ministries of Education, the private sector and others. Commission Director Justin van Fleet provided guests with an overview of the Learning Generation vision, an update on the Commission’s ongoing work and strategic priorities for 2017 with a particular emphasis on the Pioneer Country Initiative and Multilateral Development Bank investment mechanism.

Thursday morning, the Commission hosted a ministerial breakfast meeting with selected ministers of education and their representatives to discuss the Pioneer Country Initiative in greater detail. Representatives from Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Uganda were in attendance. Commissioner Amel Karboul gave an overview of the Pioneer Country process before Omari Issa and Caroline Kende-Robb moderated a discussion amongst the Ministers.

The Commission’s Ministers of Education breakfast meeting

The Commission’s Ministers of Education breakfast meeting gets underway.

The day closed with Commission Chair Gordon Brown addressing the U.K. Parliament International Development Committee where he conveyed Commission recommendations on education finance. During his comments, Mr. Brown noted “If you are talking about the role of education in economic development, there are many middle income countries who are being prevented from becoming high-income countries because they haven’t invested in education.”

The week concluded with Dr. Steer presenting the Learning Generation report at the University of Cambridge REAL Centre. Organized by the Centre, a research partner of the Commission, and featuring the topic of “Putting Evidence to Work,” Dr. Steer discussed how to take the report recommendations forward. The panel was moderated by Dr. Pauline Rose of the REAL Centre and included Luis Benveniste (World Bank), Rachel Hinton (DfID) and Olav Seim (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In her remarks, Dr. Steer noted that “this is not just a report. This is a movement.” After a busy week in London, we are excited to see where this movement takes us next.