UNITED NATIONS, Sep 18 (APP): Underscoring the importance of International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for support to the inflation-hit developing countries in order to widen access to educational opportunities.
At a stakeout on the margins of the ‘Transforming Education Summit’ underway at the UN General Assembly, the UN chief, alongside his Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, drew attention to the critical issue of innovative financing for education.
He told reporters that the “world is experiencing multiple crises”, and governments, businesses and families everywhere are feeling the financial strain.
Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, two-thirds of countries have cut their education budgets.
“But education is the building block for peaceful, prosperous, stable societies,” he stressed.
“Reducing investment virtually guarantees more serious crises further down the line”.
The UN chief said, “We need to get more, not less, money into education systems”.
He argued that while wealthy countries can increase funding from domestic sources, many developing nations are being hit by the cost-of-living crisis.
“They urgently need support for education,” Guterres said.
He then spotlighted IFFEd’s role to get financing to lower-middle-income countries – home to 700 million children who are out of school – and to the majority of the world’s displaced and refugee children.
The UN chief told the media that the Facility is not a new fund, but a mechanism to increase the resources available to multilateral banks to provide low-cost education finance.
“In time, we expect it to grow into a $10 billion facility to educate tomorrow’s generation of young people,” he said.
“It will complement and work alongside existing tools, like the Global Partnership for Education, that provide grants and other assistance”.
The Secretary-General congratulated his Special Envoy and all the countries and institutions involved in getting the facility off the ground.
“I urge all international donors and philanthropic organizations to back it,” he said.
Brown, UN Special Envoy for Education, said: “To truly transform education, we need a fundamental shift. Business as usual will not suffice. This is why the International Finance Facility for Education is such an exciting development for our future generations.
IFFEd has the potential to unlock $10 billion in new resources to support half of the world’s most vulnerable children whose pleas to “Let Me Learn” must be heard.
Expressing strong support for IFFEd’s establishment, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the recent floods have destroyed over 23,700 schools in Pakistan and have affected other 22,000 schools due to closures, damages or sheltering families afflicted by the flood damages.
“The impact on the lives and minds of millions of our children and youth will be felt for years to come, the Pakistani leader said in a statement released by the UN.
“As we work to rebuild from this catastrophe, the new stream of affordable education financing from IFFEd will be crucial to help meet our financing needs to provide an inclusive and quality education for our most vulnerable children and youth.”
Earlier on Saturday, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed opened Day 2 of the Summit, “Solutions day,” by recapping the need for education transformation; equity and inclusion; a rethink of the curricula and innovation in teaching.
“But loud and clear, we need more and better financing,” she stressed. “We can’t do this with fresh air, it has to be fueled”.
She described education as “a huge ecosystem” that supports many other lofty goals and called for “a sense of urgency” in scaling up projects.
“No more pilot projects, we know exactly what to do” she said. “It’s all about taking steps forward”.
The three-day Transforming Education Summit kicked off Friday at UN Headquarters in New York.
It began with a day of youth-led mobilization, which included contributions from the Secretary-General, his deputy, and the President of the 77th General Assembly, Csaba Korosi.
Tomorrow, the UN chief will introduce his vision statement, along with world leaders, in the General Assembly Hall, as the Summit comes to a close.