akufoaddo1_EDUARDO SOTERASAFP via Getty Images_childrenschoolafrica Eduardo Soteras/AFP via Getty Images

Global Education Has Reached a Tipping Point

The COVID-19 pandemic, the global food crisis, and climate change pose a grave threat to the future prospects of hundreds of millions of children around the world, particularly in lower-income countries. Ensuring that all children receive 12 years of quality education requires bold multilateral action.

ACCRA – The International Day of Education (January 24) is a good time to reflect on education’s essential role in achieving a peaceful and prosperous world. The severe impact that the COVID-19 pandemic, the global food and fuel crises, and climate change have had on the learning experience of millions of children worldwide, especially those in lower-income countries, has underscored the need for new thinking.

After three years of constant disruption, global education has reached a tipping point. An educated population is humanity’s most valuable resource, yet our collective failure to address the education crisis poses a grave threat to the future prospects of hundreds of millions of girls and boys, darkening entire countries’ social and economic horizons.

Before the onset of COVID-19, more than 250 million children were out of school, and half of all students in low- and middle-income countries finished primary school without basic reading comprehension skills. The pandemic, which disproportionately affected lower-income countries, has exacerbated these shocking disparities, placing an additional 24 million children and youth at risk of dropping out permanently. The share of children in low- and middle-income countries unable to read and understand a simple story by age ten has increased to nearly 70%.

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