At UN conference, world leaders called for focus on education crisis

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Activists at an education summit in New York City on Monday pleaded with world leaders to prioritize the school system and restore education budgets cut when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Held at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly before the annual summit, the summit called on nations around the world to ensure that children everywhere do not fall too far behind.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, United Nations Messenger of Peace, said: “Seven years ago, I stood on this stage hoping to hear the voice of a teenage girl who was shot and stood up for education.” On that day, countries, businesses, civil society, we all worked together to commit to getting every child in school by 2030. Halfway through that target date, we were faced with an educational emergency. It is heartbreaking to be there.”

Nigerian youth activist Karimot Odevode pointed out more. “We demand that you take responsibility,” Odebode told the General Assembly. there is no.”

An estimated 70% of 10-year-olds in poor and middle-income countries are unable to read simple stories. That’s a 13% increase from before the pandemic closed in-person schools. UN agencies and the World Bank.

Helping our youngest citizens learn to read and develop other skills will require addressing problems that existed before the pandemic, officials and students say. Countries need to increase spending, change policies to increase access for girls and students with disabilities, and modernize education to emphasize critical thinking rather than rote memorization.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to fundamentally transform education,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told reporters ahead of an education summit at UN headquarters in New York. rice field.

The UN’s final statement after the conference said 130 countries had pledged to “reboot their education systems” and take action to end the learning crisis. It was unclear how they would do this. Countries were asked to devote at least 20% of their national budgets to education.

When the pandemic closed schools around the world in the spring of 2020, many children stopped learning. For several months, other children stopped learning for longer. Worldwide, more than 800 million of her young people do not have internet access at home, according to a December 2020 study by the United Nations Educational Organization and the International Telecommunications Union.

An analysis by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that the estimated learning delay averaged over 12 months for South Asian students and less than 4 months for European and Central Asian students.

In many places, money is a key factor in ending crises. On average, wealthy countries spend $8,000 per student per year, according to a report by UNESCO and Global, a United Nations agency that studies education. educational monitoring. Low-income countries allocate about $300 a year, and some poorer countries only $50 a year per student.

As dignitaries at the conference urged countries to prioritize their youngest citizens, some of the youngest attendees expressed doubts about lasting change. do not have the authority to force their spending to increase.

Yousafzai asked countries to devote 20% of their budgets to education. “Most of you know exactly what needs to be done,” she said. “Don’t make small, stingy, short-term commitments.”