SEATTLE, Washington — A report released by the Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity is challenging the world’s agenda-setters to commit to the development scheme of a lifetime: the achievement of universal education.
Sound familiar? Think again.
There’s a reason why the Commission chose to name their report The Learning Generation. The report outlines a revolution in global education. Key to its proposals is a belief that their objectives can — and must — be reached within a generation.
Forecasting a Murky Future for Global Education
Scores of statistics culled from various developmental agencies, as well as the Commission’s own analyses, give considerable authority and cause to a hard-pressed deadline. Painted in numbers is a dismal picture of the incoming generation’s learning prospects, which are exceptionally dim for low-income countries.
The report estimates that by 2030, nearly 70 percent of school-age children in low-income countries will not be learning basic primary level skills. Only 8 percent of the same demographic is predicted to gain minimum secondary skills — a dark trajectory that grows darker still when compared to global markets’ escalating demands for skilled labor. It will take nothing less than a revolution in global education to correct these statistics.
What makes the data even more jarring, are the very real and verified benefits that come with investing in strengthening education systems. In low-income countries, every dollar put towards another year of schooling yields ten dollars of earnings and health benefits. The return on investment (ROI) reverberates, albeit to lesser effect, throughout the middle and upper rungs of the economic ladder.
To eliminate the many structural, social and financial holdups on improving global education and realizing its profitability, The Learning Generation asks its audience for nothing short of a movement. Leading the charge, the Commission states, will be a frontline of pioneering countries willing to share the weight of the report’s recommendations.
A Four-Part Recipe for a Revolution in Global Education
The Commission packages its proposals into a single Financing Compact. Designed for a corps of developing countries and supporting cast of international actors, the Compact asks participating governments to “maximize learning and efficiency and to ensure that every child has access to quality education, free from pre-primary to secondary levels, through the progressive and sustained increases of domestic financing.”
To contour the report’s broadly stroked objectives, the Compact designates four thematic areas of action, called “transformations” in the report: performance, innovation, inclusion and finance. Girding all four is a thoroughly outcome-based framework that will ideally find strength in its inbuilt mechanisms for evaluation and accountability.
The recommendations specific to each area find common ground in their shared emphasis on efficiency and connectivity. Projected resources are envisioned as prioritized, mobilized and ultimately borderless, moved and used in accordance with a time-sensitive demand for optimal performance.
The Multi-Front Battle for Global Education
Part III: Inclusion, for example, outlines a plan for educational inclusivity that demands an aggressive renegotiation of inequitable education spending.
At its core is an acute recognition of the socioeconomic inequalities that currently stunt the spread of quality education to low-income households, whose children are leaving school for life in the streets at alarming rates.
The Commission calls upon governments to invest in their out-of-school children – not only by financing and resourcing their education institutions, but by building the capacity and resiliency of their communities. It’s a goal that holds true for the entire Compact.
William Savedoff, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD), drew attention in a follow-up blog post to the legitimacy and sobriety of the report’s call to action.
“The Learning Generation makes a convincing case that business-as-usual is not working,” he wrote.
So what would work? “More funding for inputs, such as school buildings, textbooks and teachers,” Savedoff continued, “can only have impact alongside programs and policies that put learning front and center.”
The Learning Generation does just that — for what would be, according to the report, the “largest expansion of educational opportunity in history.” A true revolution in global education.
– Jo Gurch