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Transforming Education

At a time when investing in children should be an urgent priority, many developing-country governments have had to cut their education budgets. A new global compact between these countries and the developed economies that provide donor aid could generate billions of dollars in additional funding for schools.

EDINBURGH – Global Education is in crisis. Today, nearly 300 million children don’t go to school, and 800 million young people will leave school without any qualifications. Recent data show that global learning poverty in low- and middle-income countries is estimated to have risen to 70%, with more than half of the world’s children unable to read or write a simple text at the age of ten and no accredited skills for the workplace when they leave school. Coupled with the “violation” of children’s right to education, evidenced by these high levels of learning poverty, this is bound to have a devastating impact on future productivity, earnings, and well-being for this generation of children and youth, their families, and the world’s economy.

This failure to deliver an inclusive and equitable quality education for all puts us at grave risk of failing to achieve the laudable aims of the Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG4) and of the many other SDGs that depend on it. It also means we are only providing for half of our future.

Education budgets in low- and lower-middle-income countries will have to more than double, to $3 trillion, by 2030 if we are to achieve SDG4. Unless we address the shortcomings in education investment, the loss in lifetime earnings of the current generation of school-age children and youth is estimated to reach more than 15% of today’s global GDP ($21 trillion). This economic cost will be disproportionately borne by low- and middle-income countries and their students, further aggravating already serious intergenerational inequalities and divides, as well as gaps and divides among and within countries.