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To Close Inequalities Gap, Global Community Must ‘Close Education Funding Gap’, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Leaders Meeting

Excellencies, dear friends, thank you for coming together today to help us to unlock critical investments in education.Second, the Facility is focused on lower-middle-income countries because existing funds are not designed to address their long-term financing needs.  Also, these countries are home to the largest number of out-of-school children. Today’s meeting is an opportunity to discuss how best to address learning losses and close the global education financing gap, with a particular focus on innovative finance. Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s virtual remarks to the Leaders Meeting in advance of the Transforming Education Summit, held today: We know that the pandemic has further undermined progress towards the education-related Sustainable Development Goals, with dramatic impacts on the most vulnerable.  We know that, even in developed countries, there are vast education disparities that are reinforcing inequalities from generation to generation.  And we know that, across the world, students, teachers, employers and more are questioning the very relevance of the what and the how of education for today’s rapidly changing world.  In this context, the Summit is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put education at the top of the political agenda and to respond to this crisis decisively. First, the Facility will complement existing global mechanisms, such as the Global Partnership for Education, that will continue to provide critical grant assistance to lower-income countries.  It is not a new fund, but a mechanism for increasing the resources available to multilateral banks to provide low-cost education finance. As you know, we are less than three weeks away from the Transforming Education Summit, that the Secretary-General is convening as a key arrowhead of Our Common Agenda.  The Summit takes place in the context of a truly global education crisis. Since the pandemic struck, 2 out of 3 countries have cut their education budgets.  Many donors have signalled their intention to do likewise.  Even before the pandemic, we saw shocking disparities in global education financing.  High-income countries were spending nine times more per student than lower-middle income countries, and a massive 43 times more than low-income countries. We know what we need to do.  We need urgent action to recover pandemic‑related learning losses.  We need urgent action to make education systems fit for the twenty-first century.  And we need urgent action on education financing to support the delivery of both.  This is the only way we can protect the right to education, rescue the education-related Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that education plays its part in steering our world towards a better future for all. We must work collectively to increase international financing for education from all sources.  And we already have one mechanism at our fingertips:  the International Finance Facility for Education.  Championed by the Secretary-General and our United Nations Envoy Gordon Brown and developed in consultation with many stakeholders, this facility can help multiply donor resources to make urgent investments in quality education and training.  Gordon will provide an overview of the Facility, but allow me to make two key points. If we want to close the inequalities gap, we must close the education funding gap.  Clearly, the single most effective solution is to increase domestic financing of education.  But, as developing countries get pummelled by a series of interlinked crises, international assistance for education remains essential — and it, too, must grow. In closing, I am eager to hear from all of you today — representatives of lower-middle income countries, development partners, multilateral development banks and more.  I count on your support to get the International Finance Facility for Education well and truly off the ground in three weeks’ time, and I look forward to seeing you in New York on 19 September.  Thank you.

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