Education is everyone’s business.
Amidst compounding global crises and limited resources, we need deep and substantive cross-sectoral collaboration within and outside of education to create a more sustainable, prosperous, and equitable world. Together, we must reimagine how our systems – education, health, agriculture, child protection, energy, and others – can deliver on our promises to this and future generations.
Rewiring Education for People and Planet
We need to stop talking about education alone. We must recognize the power of partnerships and link education to efforts across other sectors that unlock win-win solutions and trigger mutually beneficial impact for people and planet.
In partnership with Dubai Cares, Next Generation Fellows, Restless Development, UN Foundation, and World Organization of the Scout Movement, the Commission is calling for increased cross-sectoral collaboration and launched a new report Rewiring Education for People and Planet at the UN Transforming Education Summit that puts forward six evidence-based solutions alongside ideas to mobilize additional financing to match ambition with action. The win-win recommendations include:
- Expand early childhood programs
- Build a team-based education workforce
- Scale adaptive, inclusive, and engaging teaching
- Scale school meals and school health interventions
- Create diverse routes to building skills
- Adapt education systems to build climate resilience and develop green skills
School health and nutrition
There is overwhelming evidence that well-designed and effectively delivered school meal programs – especially when implemented with complementary health programs – have the potential to drastically improve learning outcomes. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, school meal programs represented the largest global safety net, with one in every two school children receiving school meals every day in at least 161 countries from all income levels. However, school closures during the pandemic left 370 million children without access to their daily school meal. Restoring lost provision and expanding access is critical, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable children at risk of being left behind.
Governments should prioritize and invest in school meal programs to build back more sustainable education systems that prioritize the wellbeing of the learner. They are one of the most effective interventions available to transform education outcomes. School meals are cost-effective and produce returns across multiple different sectors, including education, health, agriculture, and social protection with $9 in returns for every $1 invested. They can improve learning outcomes, promote health and wellbeing, support local food production and economies, and support families’ efforts to counter the current threats to the food system and supply chain. Above all, school meals can protect children from the debilitating effects of hunger, enabling them to realize their potential.
The School Meals Coalition was launched at the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021 under the leadership of Finland and France to prioritize school meals in government financing. More than 65 countries from the global North and South together with nearly 70 partners (including UN agencies, NGOs, think tanks, and academic partners) came together to improve and restore school meals programs as a transformational platform for food and education systems.
The Education Commission, with its strong links to the Global Education Forum, is leading the Sustainable Financing Initiative for School Health and Nutrition (SFI), one of five initiatives under the School Meals Coalition, to work with governments and donors to research and implement sustainable financing solutions to expand school feeding programs. Read the new SFI paper School Meals Programmes and the Education Crisis: A Financial Landscape Analysis.
If you or your organization would be interested in partnering with the SFI, please email SFI-SMC@educationcommission.org
Education is both a climate vulnerable sector and a climate solutions sector.
Extreme storms and flooding cause costly damage to essential education facilities. Heatwaves and drought make it harder for children to learn. And because climate change is a threat multiplier, marginalized populations who are hit hardest by climate impacts – including girls, children with disabilities, refugees, and other minorities –suffer the most.
But education is a crucial building block for climate resilience and adaptation. Education builds the necessary knowledge of climate change, its impacts, and its solutions. Education builds the necessary breadth of skills –from critical thinking to coding to caring – for learners to engage in climate action, work toward climate justice, and drive green innovation across all sectors of society and the economy.
Education unlocks the individual and collective transformation needed to tackle the climate crisis.
Yet globally, the links between education and climate change have been largely ignored.
This is why the Education Commission is committed to integrating a climate lens across its education transformations, and why we are working to support countries to accelerate their commitments and actions around education for climate action.
The Education Commission is analyzing the evidence of connections between climate and education for decisionmakers, identifying opportunities and levers for climate action that support climate vulnerable countries’ adaptation and sustainable development goals, and amplifying best practices for rapid adoption and localization at scale.
- Save the planet, transform education
- Add Today Multiply Tomorrow: Building an Investment Case for Early Childhood Education report launch
- Commission Chair Gordon Brown and ED Liesbet Steer address first ministerial meeting of the School Meals Coalition in Helsinki
- Education as a Catalyst for Climate Progress
- COP26: A turning point for education as a key solution for climate challenges? By Liesbet Steer
- The global architecture for climate action: Lessons for the education sector? By Liesbet Steer and Andrew Steer
- Free school meals to alleviate global hunger By Kevin Watkins and Donald A.P. Bundy
What Works: School Meals Programs ›
Evidence of the impact of school meals on education outcomes
Finance for school feeding: Unlocking opportunities for learning, nutrition, and food security ›
Policy brief prepared by the Sustainable Financing Initiative of the School Meals Coalition
Add Today Multiply Tomorrow: Building an Investment Case for Early Childhood Education ›
A report produced in partnership with UNICEF and the LEGO Foundation
Global Center for Adaptation State and Trends in Adaptation Report 2022 – Education chapter ›
First-ever chapter on education contributed by the Education Commission to GCA’s annual flagship report
School Meals Programmes and the Education Crisis ›
A financial landscape analysis
Rewiring Education for People and Planet report ›
A new report featuring six cross-sectoral, win-win solutions to transform education
Sustainable Financing Initiative for School Health and Nutrition ›
Learn more about SFI
School Meals Coalition ›
Read about the umbrella coalition dedicated to prioritizing school meals in government financing
Research Consortium for School Health and Nutrition ›
Learn more about a partner initiative of the School Meals Coalition
April 2021 GEF Memo on School Health and Nutrition ›
Read the memo that called for a Sustainable Financing Initiative
April 2022 GEF Memo on School Health and Nutrition ›
Read the memo that makes the case for financing school meal programs and the financing we need to get there
April 2022 Country Case Studies on School Health and Nutrition ›
Read the SFI’s seven rapid country case studies studying the state of school meals programs
Education for Climate Action ›
Read this publication on why education is critical for climate progress – produced in partnership with Educate Girls, EOF, Malala Fund, and BCG