by Liesbet Steer

Most of us were happy to see the end of 2020. It was challenging for all of us, and very difficult for some. They say the darkest hour sometimes comes just before the dawn. It is our hope that 2021 can indeed be the beginning of a new dawn, of new hope for the world and the education of our children.

We will need each other! We want to give thanks to our partners for their collaborative spirit and friendship and express our hope for stronger bonds and community in the months ahead.

In 2021, we hope to continue to build on the partnerships and priorities of the Save Our Future campaign and turn the agreed priorities into action at the global and country level.

The Save Our Future campaign called on world leaders to prioritize education in the response to COVID-19. With other key partners, we developed an action-oriented White Paper, drawing on contributions from more than 100 researchers around the world, and built a historic coalition of the world’s major education players and more than 600 CSOs, research organizations, foundations, youth, media, and influencers. At the Global Education Forum meeting in September, bilateral and multilateral donors discussed how they could help move the Action Areas of the White Paper forward. The paper was launched by our chair Gordon Brown at the UNESCO Global Education Meeting and the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit in October. Some of the campaign highlights are in this impact report. We are grateful for the positive response and engagement from a diverse range of partners. Eidos Global, a youth-led communications organization based in Argentina that volunteered their time and expertise to create the Save Our Future Escape Room interactive experience, said it best:

“During these challenging times, the #SaveOurFuture campaign gives us an incredible platform to put education at the decision table and to raise awareness of the importance of working on our future.”
–Eidos Global team

Together with our many partners, we are also committed to continuing our efforts in the Commission’s four priority areas: learning, education workforce, delivery, and finance.

Transforming learning

Our work on new learning models using technology became even more urgent over the past year as millions of children had to rely on remote learning. Our prototype in Vietnam, combining adaptive platforms and changed teaching practices, resulted in significant improvements in teacher and student outcomes, highlighting the effectiveness of this approach especially for those children furthest behind. Our global High Touch High Tech for All work is now well underway, under the leadership of Commissioner Ju-Ho Lee and the new Education Commission Asia Hub. In support of this work, we launched a global consortium to facilitate collaboration, undertake and share research, and lead policy and advocacy work to scale solutions. We are excited to start working with the Inter-American Development Bank and Plan Ceibal to pilot and evaluate the HTHT approach for math and computational thinking in Uruguay.

Transforming the education workforce

The Education Workforce Initiative (EWI) has continued to shape global dialogues and national action around workforce reform with the support of several Commissioners on the High-Level Steering Group and country partners. In Ghana, we supported the Ghana Education Service to redesign its education workforce to help deliver their ambitious national reform plan. In Sierra Leone, using geospatial mapping, we helped identify opportunities to improve the utilization of subject specialist teachers in disadvantaged areas and target response programs during the COVID-19 crisis. The Minister of Education in Ethiopia praised the Transforming the Education Workforce report for its relevance to the Ethiopian context, with its three visions for the workforce more critical than ever in the COVID context. The report has influenced many other organizations, research efforts, and publications including a recent report for President-elect Biden and the Save Our Future White Paper. The second phase of EWI will focus on leadership, learning teams, and data-driven techniques to improve the number of qualified teachers in disadvantaged areas. Look out for more information soon on country policy dialogues we’re organizing on these issues, linked to the Save Our Future White Paper action agenda.

Transforming delivery

The DeliverEd Initiative – in partnership with Oxford University – is working on mapping more than 100 delivery units worldwide and conducting in-depth analysis of delivery approaches in Ghana, Jordan, Pakistan, and Tanzania. The evidence generated will inform our support to countries implementing delivery approaches to improve learning outcomes. A High-level Advisory Group was established to guide this work and ensure its relevance to policymakers and practitioners.

Transforming finance

We look forward to continuing our work on innovative financing for education. Last year, we completed the design of the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) and put forward the 2020 IFFEd Prospectus. IFFEd’s ability to multiply donor resources more than four times has become even more pertinent in this time of resource scarcity. 2021 will be a critical year to capitalize IFFEd. The Education Outcomes Fund, led by Commissioner Amel Karboul, finalized its hosting arrangement at UNICEF and is developing programs in Ghana and Sierra Leone. We also plan to continue to work on wider financing options, including options to raise and allocate domestic resources, through our work on secondary financing with the Mastercard Foundation and UNICEF.

We are deeply grateful to our partners and hope to establish new ones as we look forward to the year ahead with hope and an even greater commitment to #SaveOurFuture by investing in our most precious resource: the education of our next generation.