Around the world 57 million children of primary school age are being left out of the world’s classrooms and at least 250 million primary-aged children, are let in only to leave in a few years, not able to read a single sentence.
Recently, UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, convened a massive group of several different stakeholders—nonprofit leaders, business executives, activists, actors and actresses, and other concerned individuals with the one goal in mind. The goal of zero—zero children out of school, zero children in child labor, zero children forced into marriage, zero children without teachers and zero children affected by conflict.
Of the 57 million children of primary school age that are out of school, half are in conflict zones and with the recent reported conflicts in Syria, Central African Republic and South Sudan, among others, the impact of such occurrences on a child’s ability to obtain a quality education are profound. Currently, five million children are affected by the crisis in Syria—three million of them are out of school—they have no place to be children and are being traumatized by the violence. “So many of them have been traumatized by seeing things no child should ever see. I fear that they’re going to grow up with more vengeance than reconciliation,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, in a recent CNN blog.
Education has the power to hard-wire a better future on so many other issues—65 low to middle income countries are losing an estimated 92 billion a year by not providing the same primary education they are giving to their boys and their girls across the world. For each extra year of schooling, the chance that a youth will participate in conflict drops by 20 percent and if all students left school with the ability to read, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty—a 12 percent drop in world poverty. Education brings opportunity for youth, families, communities and countries and it starts with primary education.
The economic growth benefits, as well as the country stability benefits, of education are very clear but aid to fund global education has been dropping since 2011. As nations’ economies become more tightly interconnected—we cannot afford to shirk the right to education for all children around the world.