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Education Funding: 8m Nigerian children get UN support

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As youth activists deliver petition with 1.5 million signatures to UN
UN, World Bank, RDBanks support Finance Facility for Education
Warn of global education crisis

By Dayo Adesulu

THE more than 10 million out-of-school children in Nigeria have received the attention of United Nations, World Bank and regional development banks, as over 1.5 million youths with signatures handed over a global petition to world leaders to launch a new International Finance Facility for Education.

Youth activists from around the world met in New York with United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres with a clear and simple message: ”We need more and better funding for education to achieve our full potential.”


They asked world leaders to provide an additional US$10 billion for global education investments for the most marginalised young people throughout the world.

The petition was collected by young people working with several organisations, including Theirworld’s network of 900 Global Youth Ambassadors in 90 countries, BRAC in Bangladesh, and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in Pakistan.

During their meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Moreno, and the World Bank’s Vice-President for Human Development, Annette Dixon to discuss funding for education, they argued that the International Finance Facility for Education could help countries like Nigeria bridge the education funding gap and get all children in school and learning.

Critical educationreforms

According to them, the facility, put forth by the Secretary-General, would make aid more effective by leveraging and maximising the impact of donor resources through the World Bank and regional development banks to provide an additional 20 million places in school in its initial stage.

They also urged countries to multiply the impact by increasing their own funding and commitment to critical education reforms.

Young people are outraged that progress has stalled as investment has not kept pace with the need for education funding. International support for education has declined from 13 per cent of all aid ten years ago to now just 10 per cent. All aid to education in developing countries combined, offers only USD 10 per child – not enough to pay for a second-hand textbook, let alone a quality education.

Meanwhile, upon meeting with the youth advocates and receiving the petition, the United Nations Secretary-General said: “In our fast-changing world, we cannot accept 250 million children failing to learn even the most basic skills.

”In the coming decade, some one billion young people will enter the workforce. They all need education so that they can help build a world of peace, prosperity, dignity, and opportunity for all. That is why the proposed new International Finance Facility for Education is critical. Among the 250 million children deprived of education globally, about 10 million are Nigerians.

“Among eight million Nigerian children, 60 per cent of them are girls who are not in school and won’t have the skills they need to get jobs and build secure, stable futures.”

Moreover, UN Special Envoy, Gordon Brown while speaking on the petition said: “The human faces behind these statistics are the most heart-breaking. In Nigeria, girls living in poverty bear the greatest burden – many of them drop out of school and get married early. They are left without skills for the modern economy and won’t have much hope for the future.”

Basic skills

According to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, Nigeria is part of a global education crisis. If no action is taken, more than 400 million girls around the world will not be on track to have the skills needed for employment in 2030.

Learning standards across Africa are 100 years behind today’s average high-income countries, and by 2030, the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (the Education Commission) estimates that more than half of the world’s children and young people – some 800 million youth – will not have the basic skills needed for the modern workforce.

On current trends, it will take until after 2100 for all countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) target of ensuring that all children complete primary and secondary education.

The International Finance Facility for Education would work with countries to collectively achieve the largest education investment in history and empower the next generation to fulfill their potential.

History shows that innovative and concerted international efforts can have profound impact. A decade and a half ago, such cooperation generated extraordinary new resources for the health sector and saved millions of lives.

Similarly, achieving universal education would increase GDP per capita in low-income countries by almost 70 per cent by 2050. The Facility will make what was once considered impossible – quality education for every child – possible within a generation.

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