Breakthrough in Education Funding Could Help More Than Eight Million Nigerian Children go to School

  • Youth activists deliver petition with 1.5 million signatures calling for the biggest global investment in education history
  • United Nations Secretary-General, World Bank, and Regional Development Banks support  for the International Finance Facility for Education.
  • UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown warns of global education crisis with “wide and persistent divide” that risks excluding 400 million girls from employment by 2030.

Nigeria has one of the world’s largest populations of out-of-school youth in the world, and most children deprived of an education are girls. Today, youth activists from around the world will meet in New York with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and carry a clear and simple message: ”We need more and better funding for education to achieve our full potential.”

The youth will hand over a global petition with more than 1.5 million signatures calling on world leaders to launch a new International Finance Facility for Education that can provide an additional USD 10 billion for global education investments for the most marginalized young people throughout the world.

More than eight million Nigerian children, 60% of them girls, are not in school and won’t have the skills they need to get jobs and build secure, stable futures. 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.

UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said: “The human faces behind these statistics are the most heartbreaking. 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.”

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.

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% of all aid ten years ago to now just 10%. 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.

Today at the United Nations, Global Youth Ambassadors from Nepal, Kenya, and Sierra Leone are bringing the signatures of more than 1.5 million people asking for change and immediate action. The petition was collected by young people working with several organizations, including Theirworld’s network of 900 Global Youth Ambassadors in 90 countries, BRAC in Bangladesh, and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi in Pakistan. The youth will meet with the United Nations Secretary-General, UN Special Envoy 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.

The International Finance Facility for Education could help countries like Nigeria bridge the education funding gap and get all children in school and learning. The Facility, put forth by the Secretary-General, would make aid more effective by leveraging and maximizing 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. Countries would multiply the impact by increasing their own funding and committing to critical education reforms.

Upon meeting with the youth advocates and receiving the petition, the United Nations Secretary-General declared, “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.”

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