This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.
“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Gordon Brown spoke of education as the best anti-poverty and anti-deprivation program, speaking of successes he had seen recently in Africa. “In Kenya, I saw first-hand the benefit for free education for all,” he said, “There were 1 million children standing in queues waiting to be enrolled.”
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director at the World Bank noted that the International Development Association (IDA) had just pledged an additional $750 million for education over the next five years for countries off-track, especially those in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
“These additional resources will be used to improve access to good quality schools, for girls’ scholarships, for conditional cash transfers, for grants to schools—these are proven interventions that are producing results,” she said. “We know what works and so we are scaling up.”
The current Secretary for International Development in the UK, Andrew Mitchell, emphasized that both “output and outcomes” were important in education, explaining that outputs are the number of schools built, and outcomes are the number of children receiving good quality education.
The message of the day on education was most neatly put by Nthabiseng Tshabalala, a 12-year-old from a Soweto school. She called on leaders gathered in New York to ensure that all 69 million out-of-school children also get their chance to be leaders some day.