1.3 billion children missed out on education due to the global pandemic
The United Kingdom and Kenya will co-host a high-level summit next year to lead the global action for youth education. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta made this announcement today.
The coronavirus has worsened the global education crisis, with 1.3 billion children – including 650 million girls – out of education at the peak of school closures. Experts warn that many children will never return, particularly as countries experience an economic contraction in the wake of the pandemic.
Missing out on education does long term damage to individuals and communities, with girls particularly at risk. The benefits of schooling are transformative and multi-generational – a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school themselves. With just one additional school year, a woman’s earnings can increase by a fifth.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has championed girls’ education as the key to preventing exploitation and unlocking potential around the world. The UK is the top donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Next year’s summit will raise funds for GPE’s vital work in developing countries helping to get children into school, lift communities out of poverty, and prevent girls from being forced into child marriage.
“Since the coronavirus pandemic, the number of children out of school around the world soared past 1.3 billion. It is a toll of wasted potential and missed opportunity that is a tragedy not just for those children, but for each and every one of us.”
The Government of Kenya has made education a central part of its strategy to become a newly industrialized nation by 2030. A GPE partner since 2005, Kenya has made impressive gains, achieving universal primary education and breaking down gender barriers to get as many girls as boys enrolling in school.
Even before the pandemic, 9 in 10 school children in low income countries were unable to read proficiently by the age of 10. Since its creation in 2002, the GPE has already contributed to getting 160 million more children in school and, doubling girls’ enrollment in the countries they work in. Today’s announcement of a $5 billion funding target for the next five years is both governments commitment to learning. GPE’s are calling on all governments, businesses, and individuals to invest in children’s futures.
This funding will help ensure that 175 million children can learn in 87 lower-income countries. In the longer term, this investment could add $164 billion to economies in the developing world, lift 18 million people out of poverty, and protect two million girls from early marriage.
The summit will take place in the UK in 2021 and will convene key global players and decision-makers, with the aim of getting all children into school and learning.