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A Payment Plan for Universal Education

The Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community adopted in September, include a commitment to provide every child with access to free primary and secondary education by 2030. Unfortunately, there is still no timetable and no plan for sourcing the necessary funds – but by the end of the year, there will be.

DAVOS – The Sustainable Development Goals, which the international community adopted in September, include a commitment to provide every child with access to free primary and secondary education by 2030. Finding the additional $20 billion per year, or more, that will needed to deliver on this commitment is one of the central objectives of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

The commission was established last September by the Norwegian prime minister, and co-convened with the presidents of Malawi, Chile, and Indonesia and the director-general of UNESCO. Its members, including five former presidents and prime ministers, three former finance ministers, six Nobel Prize winners, and three of the world’s most successful business leaders – Jack Ma, Aliko Dangote, and Strive Masiyiwa – will report their findings to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the co-conveners in September. On January 24, we met in London to chart the way forward.

The challenge is daunting. Some 60 million primary-school-age children have no access to formal education. Of the roughly 590 million who are attending school, some 250 million – roughly two in five – are failing to learn the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. And some 60% of school pupils in developing countries do not meet basic mathematics standards.

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