» Education Commission Sets Vision for a Learning Generation in Report
19.09.2016 - ODG

Education Commission Sets Vision for a Learning Generation in Report

© UNESCO/Bob Krasner

UNESCO-Director-General urged the global community to step up and take stock of the findings of the report presented by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, on 18 September 2016, at the United Nations in New York.

 “We must put education first, to build a world without poverty, violence, hunger or disease – we must equip youth with skills to build greener, inclusive societies,” said the Director-General, who is one of the co-conveners of the Commission that was launched in July 2015. 

"Education saves lives, carries hope, builds dignity, prevents extremism, brings about social inclusion and fosters social mobility."

She praised the Report’s focus on creating a “Learning Generation” and its notion of “progressive universalism” – to expand quality education for all, while prioritizing the poor and disadvantaged.

Welcoming the Report’s four transformations around performance, innovation, inclusion and financing, she affirmed that “everyone must step up”, noting that, as lead coordinator of Sustainable Development Goal 4, UNESCO will work with all constituencies to fulfill the 2030 Agenda’s promise of “leaving no one behind.”

She noted that the Report reinforces the message of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report, which demonstrates the power of education for achieving the SDGs.

"The report launched today lays out a plan for the largest expansion of education opportunity in history" said UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon. "It makes the case for investment in education as a prerequisite for economic growth, sustainable development and global stability.  At a time of multiple global crises, the crisis in education is eminently solvable. As borders become less relevant and we become ever more interdependent, quality education must be available to all. Our world is not prosperous if it is too poor to educate its children," he stated. 

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, co-convener of the Commission, stated that "education provides the opportunity of a better life for individuals, communities and countries. The findings of this report are not only the concern of the education community ; they should be brought to the attention of Heads of State and finance ministers. The Report shows why the world must invest in education as a key driver of economic growth to reach the SDGs, and why we have to invest more and more effectively to leave no one behind."

Moderating the event with passion, Gordon Brown, the chair of the Education Commission and UN Special Envoy for Global Education, affirmed that “delivering high standards of education to millions who lose out is the civil rights struggle of our generation. The evidence before the Commission proves education is the best anti-poverty investment the world can make. I am confident that if we combine investment and reform and mobilize domestic and international finance in a more coordinated way, we can be the first generation in history in which every single child is at school.”

President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika of Malawi, called for collective responsibility over the long term and political will to break the "vicious cycle of poverty through inclusive quality education," drawing attention also to the "burden of high illiteracy levels."

The launch event focused on the cost of inaction and the vision for the learning generation; how to improve education systems for better results, encourage innovation, invest for inclusion and increase financing.

The neglect of education is the biggest challenge countries will face over the next 15 years, the Commission reports. Lack of investment in education systems is crippling the chances of young people in the global workplace and hindering growth, it says. Unequal distribution of opportunities fuels further discontent and is a critical motivating factor for mass migration. 

The first stage of the Commission’s plan is to have all countries adopt the reforms of the fastest improvers – the 25% of education performers around the world. Stage two is to raise spending in low-income countries to 5% of national income; stage three is to mobilize the combined resources of the international institutions through major reforms a new multilateral bank consortium; and stage four is to establish a Financing Compact between developing countries, donors and multilateral institutions.

Strong emphasis was placed by several speakers, including World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake, on investing in the early years. 

Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi urged leaders to tackle factors that prevent learning, such as child marriage, child labour and child trafficking. He recalled some fundamentals :  "freedom for education and education for freedom are birthrights and cannot be achieved without strong political commitment."

Several commissioners took the floor to discuss the Report, including GAVI Chair and Former Minister of Finance of Nigeria Ngozi Okononjo-Iweala, Alibaba Group Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma, CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund Theo Sowa, Former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, CEO of the Dangote Groupe Aliko Dangote, Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Parternship for Education, Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania, Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance of the United Arab Emirates and Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Chief Executive of Save the Children.

Since convening in July 2015 at the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, the Commission has engaged a network of 30 research institutions and over 300 partners, in more than 100 countries.

See report at :



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