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Friday, 23 October 2020

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New digital resource to make the case for education as budgets come under threat

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A new digital resource has been launched to help governments, business, charities and youth advocates make the case for education.

The free toolkit – called The Key – was unveiled during the 75th UN General Assembly to put pressure on world leaders to invest in education.

As recession looms and revenues decline as a result of the global pandemic, governments, aid agencies, businesses and philanthropists are faced with tough choices and competing priorities.

With education budgets on the chopping block, the global children’s charity Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education have joined forces to produce The Key, which provides evidence to support the argument that education must not be sacrificed.

The free resource is crammed with messages, statistics, talking points and infographics about dozens of subjects where education plays a key role – from refugees and inequality to public health and financial literacy.

Addressing a side event staged by the two charities at the UN General Assembly Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: 

“This has been a year of unprecedented disruption. As a new academic year begins, two-thirds of the global student population are not expected to attend classes. This will have a disproportionate impact on the most marginalised students, many of whom may never return to school.

“We cannot afford a lost generation. We must really support education responses to COVID-19 because to rebuild from this pandemic, education is the key to unlocking the big change we need. Education cannot promote equality, create opportunity and jobs, and build lasting peace.”

Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, told the online audience: 

“We’ve got to remember throughout this crisis that yes, we’ve got an economic crisis, yes, we have got a health crisis, but it has become an education crisis. We have got to press every country to maintain their education budget.”

In the coming weeks and months, decision-makers are likely to be faced by common questions such as: why invest in education? Where do I put my limited resources?  How is it relevant during a health crisis?

The Key is simple to use. It allows the reader to easily ‘copy, paste and advocate’. It will help the government or foundation or corporate social responsibility officials to prepare a speech, write an article, make a presentation or simply be informed.

Justin van Fleet, President of Theirworld and Executive Director of GBC-Education, said:

“What we see in the news every day demonstrates why it’s important to invest more – not less – in education around the world. Education is the key to unlocking climate action, public health, anti-racism and economic recovery.

“Education should not be a casualty of COVID-19 but the foundation of a strategy to rebound and build back better.”

Van Fleet added that investing in education had repeatedly proven to be a wise decision, with individuals becoming more resilient and revenue increasing for companies and governments.

After the 2008 recession in the US, jobs for college graduates sharply rebounded and increased by 8.4 million, but jobs for those with a high school diploma or less only increased by 80,000. Over a 34-year period in the US, states that invested more in education ended up having a higher per-capita income.

The Key is much more than a response to COVID-19, he added. There was already a global education crisis before the pandemic, with 258 million children not in school every day.

It is estimated that up to 30 million additional children will never return to school after classrooms reopen.

Designed for use over the next several years, The Key will be updated regularly to reflect developments, and hopefully progress, in the campaign to fulfil Sustainable Development Goal 4 by the year 2030 – ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.

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