LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND

Education: The pandemic that already was

Commitments must turn to action, and parliamentarians must be at the forefront of this.

In Summary

• The International Parliamentary Network for Education has been established to facilitate this collaboration;

• Working with parliamentarians individually and collectively, as well as nationally, regionally and globally.

Teacher Lynette Akinyi tutors a class at Senator Obama Primary School in the village of Kogelo, Siaya county, on July 16 last year. More than 80 per cent of visually impaired children are out of school.
Teacher Lynette Akinyi tutors a class at Senator Obama Primary School in the village of Kogelo, Siaya county, on July 16 last year. More than 80 per cent of visually impaired children are out of school.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, 90 per cent of children globally were affected by school closures, a figure widely held as demonstrative of the devastating effects of the virus. However, prior to the pandemic, one sixth of the global population of school-age children were already out of school:258 million, a figure that has largely stagnated since 2012.

Political action is vital to ensure that these children’s voices are heard. Global political collaboration is imperative in ensuring that every child has an education. Many state parties signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Education, as one of the rights, is salient in closing the socioeconomic disparity that exist among children and families. And it helps not just economically, but it improves future health and will help to reduce future conflict.

Education is crucial in empowering children with knowledge, critical thinking skills and the means to enter society and the world of work. Economic prosperity and health will improve with educated children. Marginalisation of the most vulnerable children in society has intensified in the wake of Covid-19. Children with disability have regressed in several ways. Their needs are not being met, especially those from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds.

Teenage pregnancies have escalated and girls face a higher risk of not continuing with education. Research from the Malala Fund estimated that following the pandemic, another 20 million girls may fail to return to school, due to barriers including higher domestic responsibilities and increased risks of sexual exploitation. Refugees and internally-displaced people face discrimination in education as well. Education systems must prioritise those most marginalised and those furthest behind.

In the face of the additional obstacles of the pandemic, parliamentarians must work to put pressure on governments to come up with policies that ensure no child is left behind. Oversight of implementation of these policies is paramount to their being effective.

The International Parliamentary Network for Education has been established to facilitate this collaboration, working with parliamentarians individually and collectively, as well as nationally, regionally and globally.

We, Harriett Baldwin of the UK Parliament and Senator Dr Musuruve of the Kenyan Parliament, as co-chairs of the new Network, will work with our fellow parliamentarians globally to bring the action necessary to end an education crisis that has existed for far too long.

Those joining the Network will commit to achieving: Higher total and better financing for education, ensuring that spending is efficient, accountable and in line with the Sustainable Development Goals; Prioritisation of the furthest behind, so that no child is denied their right to education simply because of who they are or where they live; Higher quality education which delivers better learning outcomes.

The global education crisis was a pandemic long before Covid-19. Commitments must turn to action, and parliamentarians must be at the forefront of this.

For Sustainable Development Goal 4, ‘Quality Education’, to be achieved, we must combine our renewed political commitment with unprecedented action across the three pillars of education financing, quality and equity. We are proud to be at the heart of this global effort to leave no child behind in education.

Co-chairs, International Parliamentary Network for Education https://www.ipned.org/