Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s video message on the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report on learning loss:
Ladies and gentlemen, education is fundamental to the dignity, growth and development of every human being. It is central to progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals; to securing peace and human rights; reducing gender inequality; and narrowing divides between rich and poor.
Even before the pandemic, education systems were struggling to give learners the knowledge, skills and values needed to thrive in our rapidly changing world. The most vulnerable children were impacted most of all — falling further behind their peers and at risk of being trapped in a life of poverty.
Yet after two years of disrupted education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is facing a generational catastrophe. The report released today by UNICEF, the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an urgent wakeup call.
It shows that only one in three countries increased public resources for education in the current school year. And one in four countries that experienced extensive school closures over the last two years even decreased their education budgets.
Meanwhile, the share of education funding in both official development assistance and humanitarian aid fell during the pandemic. Without determined and immediate action, many students may never return to the classroom.
Some 10 million more girls are at risk of child marriage, and decades of hard-earned progress on access to quality education will be erased. The Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit this September is our opportunity to respond decisively — together.
Over the next six months, we are calling on all Governments, partners and young people the world over to join forces for education. We must boost investment in education as a pre-eminent public good and step up our efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 for all between now and 2030.
Together, we must — and we can — transform education systems everywhere and ensure that learners of all ages reach their full potential for the benefit of all people and our planet.