The world’s attention is turning to the gap in worldwide education provision today as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Summit opens.
By its own estimate, more than 400 million children have failed – not achieving basic literacy skills by the age of 10 – since world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 and with them a pledge to provide quality education for all.
To emphasize the point, it has created its own Lost Potential Tracker – which constantly updates the number of disadvantaged children in real time, as more and more literally fall through the gaps in learning provision.
Many of the headlines in the coming days will focus on money. The Summit, after all, is a financing one, designed to raise money from donor countries to spend in partner countries and at the same time urge partner countries to strengthen their own financing of education. Large sums will be pledged.
But the GPE, increasingly, focusses on much more than how much money is spent on education. It also fixes its attention more and more on how that money is spent.
Its 2025 operating model places great emphasis on the transformative role that efficient and equitable spending can have on access and learning.
That is why at this Summit, under the political leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, GPE is asking partner countries – which includes almost every country in Africa – to commit to more than sustaining or raising domestic education budgets.
A call to action ahead of the Summit, issued in President Kenyatta’s name, asks partner countries to sign-up to placing greater emphasis on improving learning outcomes and employing new techniques and methodologies which have been proven to yield better results for students.
It also recognizes the role of technology in improving learning outcomes and commits signatories to leveraging technology-supported learning to improve equity in access to education.
And it obliges them to continue investing in strengthening the capacities of teachers, recognizing the instrumental role that they play in determining learning outcomes.
The traditional approaches to teaching and learning have failed generation upon generation; change is essential.
This call to action has already been endorsed by other African leaders, including President George Weah of Liberia who is leveraging public-private partnership to support his Country’s primary education system and improve learning outcomes.
In Liberia, the Government’s LEAP Programme which has Bridge Liberia as its biggest and main partner, is leading a charge to ensure the traditional approaches to learning which have failed, is replaced with a more robust strategy. The Bridge learning model covers a 360 degree angle with teachers, students, parents, community and the Government as leaders.
Learning is a science. To take an analogue approach to education, one not based upon scientific principles, technology and the analysis and utilisation of reliable data is to damage the efficacy of education systems; and limit the progress of the children they are there to serve.
That is why all Bridge Liberia supported schools already operate in the way that responds to President Kenyatta’s call. Using technology; analysis and continuous professional development we take a fundamentally scientific approach to education and are always learning about learning.
Ahead of the GPE Summit, it’s Co Chair President Kenyatta has strongly endorsed investment in technology-supported learning. “We need to make smart investments in education technology to help close the digital divide and leapfrog infrastructure deficits in schools,” he explained.
Across Africa, Liberia is one of the countries leading the way and there are countries and states that have implemented programmes that do exactly as kenyatta suggests; and they are reaping the benefits.
President Kenyatta’s call to action, and the support it is receiving from other African leaders could not be better timed or more important to help transform the learning outcomes for hundreds of millions of African children and help give them the quality education they deserve.