Global Education Forum

A platform for global coordination and action

The Global Education Forum (the Forum) was established in September 2019 to bring together high-level leaders from key donor countries and multilateral institutions supporting SDG 4. It aims to improve international collaboration and advocate for increased and more effective investment in global education.

Commission Chair Gordon Brown’s statement at the Leaders’ Dialogue on Investing in Education during the November 2021 Global Education Meeting

The Global Education Forum (GEF) aims to accelerate global progress towards achieving inclusive, equitable, and quality education for the world’s children and youth.

Its goals:

  1. Develop a clear message around the urgency of the global education emergency
  2. Strengthen coordination of bilateral and multilateral international support to ensure predictable, sustainable and coherent financing and deliver economies of scale and scope, and greater efficiency and impact on the ground
  3. Work with leaders from selected countries, at their request, to mobilize international support for their national objectives and country plans.

The GEF most recently convened members in October 2021. The meeting was held at a time when the global community was still facing the uncertain consequences of the global pandemic as some schools were beginning the process of reopening while others remained closed due to the pandemic. Some children will still not return to school even after schools reopen, further deepening existing inequalities between high-income and middle- and low-income countries. Prior to the pandemic, learning poverty was at 53% and was initially estimated to rise to 63%. Startling new data from the World Bank shows an actual rise to 70%. These learning losses could lead to as much as a 10% loss in lifetime earnings for the generation of children in countries with longer school closures.

Forum Co-Chairs

Audrey Azoulay
UNESCO Director-General

Gordon Brown
UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Education Commission Chair

Graça Machel
Education Commissioner and former Minister of Education of Mozambique

Mari Pangestu
World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

Tharman Shanmugaratnam
Senior Minister of Singapore

Access to essential services such as school meals have not yet been restored everywhere, and as many as 350 million children continue to miss out on their main meal of the day. As part of COVID recovery plans, leaders must prioritize and protect education budgets given education’s fundamental role in delivering the entire Sustainable Development Goal agenda and unlocking opportunities for the world’s children and youth.

In this context, the role of the GEF is more important than ever to ensure a coordinated and aligned donor agenda for action on global education. The GEF continues to build on the Save Our Future White Paper ­– a report developed by key multilateral donor members together with major civil society organizations to highlight the urgency of the education crisis, develop a common narrative, and propose priority actions for the international community to take in response to COVID-19 and the recommendations of UNESCO’s 2020 Global Education Meeting Declaration. These efforts called on international donors to act urgently to support programs in four priority policy areas: (1) the education workforce; (2) school health and nutrition; (3) digital learning; and (4) foundational learning. To drive progress, the Forum will continue to convene meetings twice a year to discuss specific priorities and agree upon coordinated bilateral and multilateral donor collaboration to mobilize financing and donor support for the priority areas identified in the 2020 GEM Declaration and Save Our Future White Paper.

UNESCO successfully led the reform of the SDG 4-Education 2030 Global Education Cooperation Mechanism (GCM) with a view to strengthening the SDG4-Education 2030 Steering Committee’s education policy guidance in 2021. The GEF’s role in global advocacy for increased education financing is seen as a critical pillar of this reformed global education coordination mechanism. GEF members will continue efforts to align donors around these broad policy areas as part of the newly endorsed GCM.

Learn more about the GEF and its relationship to the SDG 4-Education 2030 Steering Committee within the global education coordination structure here.


October 2021 Meeting Summary›
High-level summary and key follow-up actions from the GEF fall meeting

Action Memo on the Education Workforce›
Background paper for the October 2021 meeting

April 2021 Meeting Summary›
Read the high-level summary and key follow-up actions from the spring GEF meeting

April 2021 Proposals for Action›
Learn more about the proposals for consideration by Forum members at the April 2021 meeting

Action Memo on School Health and Nutrition›
Background paper 1 for the April 2021 meeting

Action Memo on Teachers and Vaccination as Part of School Operations›
Background paper 2 for the April 2021 meeting

Action Memo on Foundational Learning›
Background paper 3 for the April 2021 meeting

Action Memo on Digital Learning for All›
Background paper 4 for the April 2021 meeting