A Pakistani female student writes a sentence on a black board A. MAJEED/AFP/Getty Images

Educating the Commonwealth

Since 1949, the Commonwealth's 53 states have led the world in addressing some of the most important human-development challenges. But education remains an exception, and when Commonwealth leaders meet in London this month, they must make schooling a top priority or jeopardize their goal of delivering peace and prosperity.

DAR ES SALAAM/LAGOS – With 53 member countries and 2.4 billion people, the Commonwealth is a powerful force for positive change. For nearly seven decades, Commonwealth states have been global leaders on trade, female empowerment, natural-resource protection, and many other issues.

But as the Commonwealth moves to tackle new challenges in human development, its leadership is failing to place sufficient emphasis on the most important factor of all: education. Without a renewed commitment to this key building block of prosperity, progress on other goals will be elusive.

Today, some 140 million children in the Commonwealth are not in school. According to a recent UNESCO report, the situation is most dire in the poorest Commonwealth countries. In Pakistan, for example, nearly 20 million children are not enrolled in formal education, while seven million are out of school in Bangladesh, 2.3 million in Mozambique, 1.8 million in Ghana, and 1.6 million in Cameroon.

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