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With 260 Million Children Out of School, Financial Innovations Needed to Promote Equitable, Inclusive Education, Deputy Secretary-General Tells High-Level Event

Author: United Nations   |   Posted on: September 24, 2018

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina J. Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the high‑level event “Making the Impossible Possible:  Unlocking Human Potential through the International Finance Facility for Education”, in New York today: 

We gather today to highlight the importance of education — and to assess together the crisis it is facing globally.  Education is not only a basic human right but also the foundation on which to propel sustainable development. 

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires that people everywhere get not only the knowledge and skills they need, but also the values and attitudes that empower them to be agents for sustainable development. 

Yet we are all keenly aware that 260 million children are not going to school.  On current trends, by 2030, more than 800 million young people — half the world’s children — will not be on track to have even the most basic skills needed for the workforce. 

Sustainable financing is crucial to this growing concern.  To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education, we need to scale up current investments from $1.2 trillion to nearly $3 trillion annually by 2030.  This is a high mountain to climb but it is not insurmountable. 

To change the landscape of education finance, several pieces of the puzzle must come together.  First, additional financing — domestic and international — needs to invest in education that matches the job markets and other demands of life in the twenty‑first century.  Second, countries need to prioritize education, starting in the early years through adulthood.  And third, the international community must be willing to help address national funding shortfalls.  Even with countries’ optimal efforts to improve their tax base, increase spending on education and improve value for money, a funding gap for education will persist, rising to almost $40 billion by 2020 and $90 billion by 2030.  This gap is widest in the least developed economies. 

Traditional aid will not suffice.  The financial innovations embedded in the International Finance Facility for Education can help us to uphold our commitment to equitable and inclusive quality education for all.  The Facility, proposed by the Education Commission and put forward by the Secretary‑General at the Group of 20 last year, aims to scale up investments. 

After an extensive technical process and consultation led by the Education Commission with partners, we are now ready to share our best sense of where we are and how we need to move forward.  I welcome the presence today of the multilateral development banks and international institutions.  I am delighted that President [Jim Yong] Kim of the World Bank could join us today as we endeavour to actualize the goals.  I wish to acknowledge and express our deep appreciation for the work of his team. 

I also welcome a number of countries that are here to highlight their commitments and outline their needs.  Donor countries are also present, interested in results and ready to be pioneers in development finance.  And most importantly, young people from across the world have sent in millions of signatures asking for us to take urgent action so that they have greater opportunities to enjoy their rights and pursue their dreams. 

We are unified in a new international financial architecture for education, where lower‑income countries are able to turn to the Global Partnership for Education for grants, where the Education Cannot Wait fund is ready to spring into action when education is interrupted by emergency or conflict, and where a new International Finance Facility for Education can extend longer‑term bridge finance for countries to promote inclusive, quality education. 

As we look to do this, we must also encourage Governments to strengthen the institutional architecture that will enable these initiatives bring benefits and enable us to fulfil our collective responsibility to ensure quality education.  As we work with Governments and the World Bank, careful analysis of the potential beneficiaries will be important to ensure that countries are supported with a mix of financing that does not place them at high risk of debt distress. 

Today, our objective is simple:  to take stock of progress and discuss the way forward as we advance towards operationalizing the International Finance Facility for Education so that we can fully finance Sustainable Development Goal 4.  Thank you for your commitment to the advancement of the rights and aspirations of young people, today and tomorrow.


*For information media. Not an official record.