A campaign to raise $10 billion to ensure that every child gets a secondary school education by 2030 received support Friday from the U.N. chief, global and regional banks, and 11.5 million young people who are calling for the biggest education investment in history.
Youth activists delivered a petition to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres with 1.5 million signatures from Pakistan and Bangladesh, adding to the 10 million signatures already collected from around the world. It calls on world leaders to launch a new International Finance Facility for Education that can provide an additional $10 billion to help send millions of marginalized boys and girls to school.
U.N. Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown said over 260 million children are not attending school today, and if current trends continue 400 million won't be educated beyond age 11 by 2030, the target to meet the U.N. goal of ensuring a primary and secondary education for all children.
"In total 800 million children — that is half the world's children — will leave school without qualifications and fail to enjoy a quality education" and in some cases they will be illiterate, Brown told a news conference.
He said this emphasizes that "the biggest divide in the world today is between the half of our future who are going to be educated and the other half who are being left behind — and the left behind include 75 million children, including 10 million refugees in conflict zones and other emergencies."
According to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, international funding for education declined from 13 percent of all aid 10 years ago to 10 percent today. And all aid to education in developing countries amounts to $10 per child, "not enough to pay for a second-hand textbook, let alone a quality education," said the commission, which was established in 2015 to increase investment in education.
On Friday, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development issued a joint statement committing to move forward on the $10 billion financing facility and their representatives joined Brown and the secretary-general.
Guterres, a former U.N. refugee chief, said the amount of funding for schools for refugee children "I believe is extremely reduced" and not enough money goes to countries engulfed in conflict or facing emergencies.
"If we look at the future, 1 billion young people will enter the labor market in the next decade," the secretary-general said, and they need education to prepare them for a future that with technology "is changing very rapidly — so the investment in education is absolutely crucial."
"Now, the international finance facility comes to fill the gap ... and my strong appeal is for the international community to fully bet in this new instrument," Guterres said.