EDINBURGH – Global education is in crisis. Today, nearly 300 million children do not go to school and 800 million young people will leave school without any qualifications. Recent data shows that global learning poverty in low- and middle-income countries is estimated at 70%, with more than half of the world’s children unable to read or write simple text by age ten years old and no recognized skills for the workplace when they leave school. Coupled with the ‘violation’ of children’s right to education, as evidenced by these high levels of learning poverty, this is bound to have a devastating impact on the future productivity, earnings and well-being of this generation of children. and young people, their families, and the global economy.
This failure to provide inclusive and equitable quality education for all puts us at grave risk of not achieving the laudable goals of the Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG4) and the many other SDGs that depend on it. It also means that we only plan for half of our future.
Education budgets in low- and lower-middle-income countries will need to more than double, to $3 trillion, by 2030 if we are to achieve SDG4. If we do not correct the gaps in investment in education, the loss of income for the current generation of school-aged children and youth is expected to reach more than 15% of current global GDP ($21 trillion). This economic cost will be borne disproportionately by low- and middle-income countries and their students, further deepening already severe inequalities and intergenerational divides, as well as gaps and divides between and within countries.
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