On August 17th 2020, a letter written by former world leaders and politicians was forwarded towards current G20 heads, National Governments, and Global financial institutions, released on the Project Syndicate’s website. The authors included: Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, Ban Ki-Moon, former UN Secretary General, Graca Machel, Helen Clark former New Zealand PM, Gordon Brown former UK PM and many more.
This letter called for “urgent action to address the global education emergency” triggered by COVID-19. There is an extreme lack of educational opportunities for millions of children in the world’s poorest countries, who are being forced to marriage and intense physical labor due to COVID-19.
The children heavily affected by the digital divide are being locked out of learning without internet access. In addition, the loss of free school meals is putting the lives of nearly 400 million boys and girls through starvation.
The letter concerned that an estimated 30 million children may never return to school post lockdown, according to UNESCO. “We cannot stand by and allow these young people to be robbed of their education and a fair chance in life. Instead we should be redoubling our efforts to get all children into school.” The letter referred to the current education status as ‘learning poverty’ as over half of the children in developing countries face a learning crisis.
The letter addressed 3 fronts of danger education funding faced:
Slow tax revenues result in less funds available in public services including education
When allocating funds, certain Governments may leave education underfunded as they prioritize expenditure on health and economic recovery
Intensifying fiscal pressure in developed countries will result in a reduction for international development aid such as education.
Furthermore, there were 4 solutions to the dangers the letter included:
Every country must pledge to protect front-line education spending, prioritizing the needs of the most disadvantaged children
The International community must increase aid for education focusing on the most vulnerable in the community
The IMF should issue $1.2 trillion in Special Drawing Rights and its membership should agree to channel these resources towards the countries in need
The World Bank must allocate more support for low-income countries through a supplementary International Development Association budget. All private-sector corporations must support global education as a greater priority
In conclusion, the letter emphasized the importance of quality education for sustainable human development, aspiring for a generation in history in which “every child is in school and has the chance to develop their potential to the fullest. Now is the time for national governments and the international community to come together to give children and young people the opportunities they deserve and to which they are entitled.”
If you would like to read the full letter, please visit Project Syndicate’s website