• Youth activists deliver petition with more than 1.5 million signatures to United Nations calling for the biggest education investment in history
  • United Nations Secretary-General, World Bank, and regional development banks advancing proposal for the International Finance Facility for Education
  • UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown warns of education crisis creating “wide and persistent divide” that risks excluding 400 million girls from employment in 2030

NEW YORK, May 11, 2018 – Today, youth activists from around the world in New York will meet the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and carry a clear and simple message: “We need more and better funding for education to achieve our full potential.”

The youth will hand over a global petition with more than 1.5 million signatures calling on world leaders to launch a new International Finance Facility for Education that can provide an additional USD 10 billion for global education investments for the most marginalized young people throughout the world.

The world is facing an education crisis which is creating a wide and persistent divide between children who have access to skills and opportunity – and those who do not. If no action is taken, more than 400 million girls will not be on track to have the skills needed for employment in 2030. Learning standards across Africa are 100 years behind today’s average high-income countries, and by 2030 the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (the Education Commission) estimates that more than half of the world’s children and young people – some 800 million youth – will not have the basic skills needed for the modern workforce.

On current trends, it will take until after 2100 for all countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) target of ensuring that all children complete primary and secondary education.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said: “The human faces behind these statistics are the most heartbreaking. Instead of being in school, children will be trapped as laborers, brides, soldiers, and victims of trafficking. Aspiring doctors, lawyers, teachers, and innovators of tomorrow will never realize their talents – this is a loss we cannot afford.”

The International Finance Facility for Education would work with countries to collectively achieve the largest education investment in history and empower the next generation to fulfill their full potential.

Young people are outraged that progress has stalled as investment has not kept pace with the need for education funding. International support has declined from 13% of all aid ten years ago to now just 10%. All aid to education in developing countries combined offers only USD 10 per child – not enough to pay for a second-hand textbook, let alone a quality education.

Today at the United Nations, Global Youth Ambassadors from Nepal, Kenya, and Sierra Leone are bringing the signatures of more than 1.5 million people asking for change and immediate action. The petition was collected by young people working with several organizations, including Theirworld’s network of 900 Global Youth Ambassadors in 90 countries, BRAC in Bangladesh, and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in Pakistan. The youth will meet with the United Nations Secretary-General, UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown, President of the Inter-American Development Bank Luis Moreno, and the World Bank’s Vice President for Human Development Annette Dixon to discuss funding for education.

The Facility, put forward by the Secretary-General, would make aid more effective by leveraging and maximizing the impact of donor resources through the World Bank and regional development banks to provide an additional 20 million places in school in its initial stage. Countries would multiply the impact by increasing their own funding and committing to critical education reforms.  

Upon meeting with the youth advocates and receiving the petition, the United Nations Secretary-General declared, “In our fast-changing world, we cannot accept 250 million children failing to learn even the most basic skills. In the coming decade, some one billion young people will enter the workforce. They all need education so that they can help build a world of peace, prosperity, dignity, and opportunity for all. That is why the proposed new International Finance Facility for Education is critical.”   

History shows that innovative and concerted international efforts can have profound impact. A decade and a half ago, such cooperation generated extraordinary new resources for the health sector and saved millions of lives. Achieving universal education would increase GDP per capita in low-income countries by almost 70 percent by 2050. The Facility will make what was once considered impossible – quality education for every child – possible within a generation.