“For Africa, digitisation and harnessing of technological innovation in education is crucial for us to leapfrog and engage with the rest of the world”- Ken Ofori Atta; Ghana’s Finance Minister, Chair of IMF/World Bank Development Committee at the meeting of the Global Education Forum on the side lines of the 2019 UN General Assembly.
The meeting was under the auspices of UNICEF and was co-chaired by the former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education and UNESCO Director General, Mrs Audrey Azoulay was organised with that attendance of leaders of multilateral development partners and private finance institutions.
The meeting aimed at establishing a new financing mechanism to leverage collaboration across global systems in the interest of low to middle income countries that are struggling with financing for education.
As at mid year 2019, the annual spend on education worldwide is estimated at US$4.7 trillion, for which 65% of the total is spent in high-income countries and just a mere 0.5% of the total is spent in low-income countries even with roughly equal school-age populations.
Mr Ken Ofori Atta therefore, stressed the need for equitable distribution of the available resources worldwide to ensure that a quarter of the worlds’ population achieve inclusiveness.
Ken Ofori Atta praised the free SHS policy introduced in Ghana by the Akufo Addo administration. He also stated education spend is at the time 6% of the country’s GDP. Ken stressed the need for developing countries to look for innovative finance to sustain education particularly the free.
Former Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore lauded the call for innovative financing of education but however noted that Singapore has achieved a lot in education not from innovative financing but a national focus on design of result oriented education programmes.
Most importantly, the call for innovative financing of education was not the sole focus but also a focus on supporting and working with individual countries, regions and sub regions to achieve the SDG 4.
The group recognised; 1. The urgency to provide this assistance now; they also 2. A pledge to develop clear messaging on the urgency of the problem; as well as 3. Strengthening coordination of all forms of international support and 4. Collaboration between the public and private sectors to deliver education development outcomes.
The Global Education Forum (GEF) was developed following an agreement to establish the forum at a meeting of heads of multilateral agencies in July 2019 and convened by UNESCO as the lead agency for the global coordination of SDG 4 in consultation with key members of the Education Forum. It is a multi-stakeholder partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in achieving the SDGs.
The Forum brings together Heads of Governments, ministers, educators, NGO leaders, youth groups, board chairs and chief executives of businesses and multi-lateral agencies and industry leaders to learn about innovative approaches, share stories of success, and learn how to scale solutions in practice.
The Forum also addresses the global priority of education and aims to strengthen the ties between the public and private sector in the field of education, and also increase the involvement of the private sector in education. The Forum is the result of a strategic partnership between UNESCO and the Varkey Foundation, and is organized with the support of other partners including the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (UAE Government).
We trust that this would be a step in the right direction to enhance the quality of education in the developing countries and level the playing fields in the intellectual contribution of citizens to the global work force after graduation from these schools.