• Over 1.5 million youth deliver a petition to United Nations backing $10 billion plan to create an International Finance Facility for Education  
  • “Value for money” innovative facility makes aid money go four times further and addresses child labour, child marriage, child trafficking and discrimination against girls
  • Brown says it’s time to “make what seemed impossible possible”

Speaking at the United Nations, Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education said:

“The International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), that the Secretary-General has endorsed today, has the support of the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Regional Development Banks.  It is backed by the addition today of 1.5 million signatures — this time from Pakistan and Bangladesh youth — to our already 10-million strong petition. Now 11.5 million young people are demanding change.

Today 260 million children are not at school and even in 2030 on current trends, 400 million have no education beyond age 11; and in total 800 million – half the world’s school-age children – will leave without qualifications, failing to enjoy a quality education. That half the world’s children leave education unqualified, and in some cases illiterate, emphasizes that the biggest divide in the world is between the half of our future who are educated and the other half who are left behind.  They include 75 million children – including 10 million refugees — in conflict zones and emergencies with their education interrupted and for whom the absence of education represents a promise betrayed.

The right to education for every child will not be attained by ordinary, “steady as you go” approaches given how far we are from meeting the Sustainable Development Goal that every child be in school but require an extraordinary, indeed superhuman, effort. So the Facility will apply one of the most innovative financing solutions to one of the world’s most intractable problems — illiteracy — to achieve one of the most elusive but also most urgent goals, the right to education for every child.

The International Financial Facility for Education aims to:

  • Raise $10 billion of additional finance to help meet Sustainable Development Goal 4 and thus guarantee by 2030 every child the right to quality primary and secondary education and pre-school learning.
  • Work with countries committed to improving their education and together, in its first allocations, fund 200 million school places for children and young people.
  • Help end child marriage, child labour, child trafficking and discrimination against girls by getting girls into school – thus aiding the civil rights struggle of our generation.
  • Help eradicate illiteracy, which currently affects 750 million adults – two-thirds of whom are women.
  • Help unlock other Sustainable Development Goals on health, gender, equality, employment and quality of life.

The right to education is a right contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989, in the World Declaration on Education for All in Jomtien in 1990, in the conclusions of the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000 leading to the Millennium Development Goals, and it is a right that is expanded upon — endorsed unanimously by all countries — as quality primary and secondary education for all in the new Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015. But it is a promise that has yet to be delivered.

Currently, only 1 percent of multilateral development bank financing for middle-income countries goes to education in Africa and Asia. Yet, the 50 plus lower-middle-income countries in these continents are where the majority of the out-of-school children live and the majority of refugees and displaced children now reside.

These countries face an untenable choice: stop sending children to school or borrow money at commercial rates.

Yet delivering on the right to education is within our grasp by building on guarantees from aid donors, by working with the multilateral development banks to leverage these guarantees, and by incorporating a grant facility to reduce the costs of funding the education of 700 million children in lower-middle income countries.  Under our proposal every $1 billion in aid can deliver $4 billion of new educational investment — making aid even more cost-effective and best value for money.

The new Facility thus complements the work of The Global Partnership for Education and the Education Cannot Wait fund, who both support this initiative, the work of the UN Agencies from UNESCO and UNICEF, to OCHA and UNHCR, the work of bilateral donors and thousands of civil society organizations.

The next stage is to request donor countries to provide financial guarantees to the Facility and we are in discussions with twenty possible contributors. The opportunity to ensure we are the first generation in history when every child goes to school is our challenge, our task and can be this century’s achievement. What has previously seemed impossible is possible. What seemed out of our reach is within our grasp.

Editor’s Notes:
The Facility is a collective effort of many individuals and organizations.  Today, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development have issued a joint statement committing to take this initiative forward.

The members of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, which first recommended the Facility, are:


Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway who initiated the Commission

Michelle Bachelet, Former President of Chile

Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia

Peter Mutharika, President of Malawi

Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO


Anant Agarwal, CEO, edX; Professor, MIT

José Manuel Barroso, Former President, European Commission

Felipe Calderón, Former President, Mexico

Kristin Clemet, Managing Director, Civita; Former Minister of Education and Research and Former Minister of Labour and Government Administration, Norway

Aliko Dangote, CEO, Dangote Group

Julia Gillard, Chair, Global Partnership for Education; Former Prime Minister, Australia

Baela Raza Jamil, CEO, Idarae-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA)

Amel Karboul, CEO, Education Outcomes Fund; Former Minister of Tourism, Tunisia

Jakaya Kikwete, Former President, Tanzania

Jim Kim, President, World Bank Group

Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo; Former Member of the House of Representatives and Minister of Defense, Japan

Anthony Lake, Former Executive Director, UNICEF

Ju-Ho Lee, Professor, KDI School of Public Policy and Management; Former Minister of Education, South Korea

Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group

Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust

Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman and Founder, Econet

Teopista Birungi Mayanja, Regional Coordinator, Africa Network Campaign for Education For All (ANCEFA); Founder, Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU)

Shakira Mebarak, International Artist; Founder, Fundación Pies Descalzos

Patricio Meller, Professor, University of Chile and President, Fundación Chile

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair, GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria

Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Former Minister of State for Tolerance, United Arab Emirates

Kailash Satyarthi, Founder, Bachpan Bachao Andolan


Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Former UK Prime Minister