COVID-19 put 1.6 billion children out of school. Here’s how to upgrade education post-pandemic

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Amel Karboul, CEO, Education Outcomes Fund


• Many of the 1.6 billion children out of school during the pandemic may never return.

• Of those who do, more than half will not receive the education required for basic numeracy and literacy.

• Outcomes-based programmes provide an opportunity to ensure that funds are spent effectively.

At the peak of the global lockdowns imposed to counter the spread of COVID-19, 1.6 billion children were out of school. A staggering number, but if they all return to school as society begins to adjust to a new normal, then it’s just a few months of lost learning. Teachers will be able to help them catch up, and the long-term effects will be manageable.

Only not all of them will. Even before this crisis, 250 million children were already out of school, and now many more are unlikely to return. Parents may not feel safe in sending children back, the cost of fees may be too great as the economic crisis tightens its grip, or children may need to work to recover family incomes lost during the crisis. And too many of those who do return may not be learning. Prior to COVID-19, over half of the world’s children were “learning poor”; unlikely to reach adulthood with basic numeracy and literacy skills. An additional 10% have already joined them due to the pandemic – and as school closures drag on, it’s only going to get worse.

Alarm bells should be ringing, especially on behalf of the most vulnerable. The Ebola outbreaks in west Africa saw the number of girls out of school almost treble, from 8 to 21% – many of whom became teenage mothers, outlawed from returning to school. As we stare down the barrel of a prolonged economic crisis, there is a very real risk that by failing to act now we will be destroying the life prospects – and productive capacity – of an entire generation.

It’s a bleak picture. But if we act now and take a new approach with proven impact, we can make a difference. Outcomes-based programmes – where payments are allocated based on results – are becoming increasingly popular as governments around the world face mounting pressure to tackle urgent social challenges with constrained budgets.

As a former government minister in Tunisia, I know first-hand the challenges. Competing priorities mean that governments struggle to invest in improving their education systems until it’s too late. And when they do, they lack the capacity to try new approaches when they are already struggling to deliver basic provision. The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the limitations of our most important institutions. But perhaps it can also be the inspiration for new approaches – an opportunity that has forced us to pause, and perhaps a chance to wipe the slate clean.

Outcomes funding has already proven its worth in programmes in health and education sectors around the world. But to reach the children so desperately in need of quality education, now is the time to build on its early successes and implement it at scale. Broader environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing currently stands at $30 trillion, of which the impact investment market is worth nearly $1 trillion. If we can shift even a fraction of that funding towards outcomes-based education programmes, it could transform not only individual lives but entire countries.

At the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF), we’ve pioneered a model that brings the public and private sectors together to support long-term, systemic impact – ultimately driving better outcomes for children around the world. It’s a game-changing approach. A new way for donors, governments, impact investors and education organizations to achieve positive impact through an alternative model to supply funding and evaluate programmes.

No longer do funders pay for a set of activities and rigid programming, with limited evaluation of their impact. Instead, they define the outcomes they want to see, and only pay for the measurable social change that the interventions deliver. An agile, results-based funding mechanism such as this can also provide the opportunity for innovation – giving providers the space to try new approaches suitable for constantly evolving circumstances. It is here that non-state actors can play a critical role. They can adapt their provision and focus on what works, and align their approach to government objectives.

The challenges that lie before us are many. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to solve them. Instead, let’s think even bigger than simply recovering from the current crisis. Let’s reimagine how we can face any crisis in the future. With our recent move to the United Nations family, becoming hosted by UNICEF as an independent trust fund, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re reimagining our approach to education funding on a global scale, seeking to improve the lives of 10 million children and young people around the world.

What is the World Economic Forum doing to champion social innovation?

Social innovators address the world’s most serious challenges ranging from inequality to girls’ education and disaster relief that affect all of us, but in particular vulnerable and excluded groups. To achieve maximum impact and start to address root causes, they need greater visibility, credibility, access to finance, favourable policy decisions, and in some cases a better understanding of global affairs and access to decision makers.

The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is supporting more than 400 late-stage social innovators. By providing an unparalleled global platform, the Foundation’s goal is to highlight and expand proven and impactful models of social innovation. It helps strengthen and grow the field by showcasing best-in-class examples, models for replication and cutting-edge research on social innovation.

Meet the World-changers: Social Innovators of the Year 2020. Our global network of experts, partner institutions, and World Economic Forum constituents and business members are invited to nominate outstanding social innovators. Get in touch to become a member or partner of the World Economic Forum.

We believe that we can galvanize the global community to embrace outcomes-based funding, calling with one voice for accountability and tangible results. We owe it to our children to try something different. The result could be truly revolutionary.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Training for staff in early childhood education and care must promote practices that foster children’s learning, development and well-being

These countries have the most nuclear reactors

Record numbers of people in the UK have applied to study nursing

The British “nonsense”, the relaxed Commissioner and the TTIP “chiaroscuro” at this week’s Council

‘A trusted voice’ for social justice: Guterres celebrates 100 years of the International Labour Organization

Kids who live in the countryside have better motor skills, a study in Finland has found

“No labels for entrepreneurs!”, a young business leader from Italy cries out

Code of Practice on disinformation: Commission welcomes new prospective signatories and calls for strong and timely revision

No way out for Eurozone’s stagnating economy

South Sudan: UN calls for end to inter-communal clashes, attacks against aid workers

Here’s why human-robot collaboration is the future of manufacturing

JADE Spring Meeting 2017– day 1: Excellence awards, panel discussion, keynote speeches

EC v Samsung: A whole year to compile a case

Can medical students be prepared for Global Health ethical issues?

UN rights chief ‘strongly’ condemns ‘shocking’ mass executions in Saudi Arabia

Countries are piling on record amounts of debt amid COVID-19. Here’s what that means

Young activists do the talking as UN marks World Children’s Day

Some endangered languages manage to thrive. Here’s how

Irish Presidency: Not a euro more for EU budgets

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission decides to register ‘Right to Cure’ initiative

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

Global warming: our responsibility

COVID-19 has hit Black Americans hardest. Healing this divide would lift the nation

Will COVID-19 usher in a new culture of outdoor living and dining?

From Hangzhou to Rwanda: how Jack Ma brought Chinese e-commerce to Africa

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

The importance of including palliative care in the Universal Health Coverage and how to achieve it

5 Ways Companies Can Progress More Women into Leadership Roles

Health Care Workers’ Safety and Health as Assets in the Fight Against COVID-19

GSMA announces speakers for Mobile 360 Series-West Africa

This is how we make basic income a reality

Revealed: danger and squalor for cleaners who remove human waste by hand

‘Global trust’ declining, ‘our world needs stepped-up global leadership’

UN Envoy ‘confident’ deal can be reached to avert further violence around key Yemeni port city

EU boosts humanitarian aid budget for 2021 as needs rise

The final countdown towards achieving the 2030 Agenda: the contribution of future health(care) professionals

Vaccine nationalism – and how it could affect us all

Investing in health workers yields ‘triple dividend’, WHO chief says in New Year’s message

Palliative care and Universal Health Coverage: how to advocate for the inclusion of palliative care in UHC

Commission (Eurostat) publishes first statistics on short-stay accommodation booked via collaborative economy platforms

Overcoming the paralysis of trust management across a fractured IT landscape

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

Human rights breaches in Eritrea, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia

Cross-border travel is confusing after COVID – this framework can help borders reopen safely

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Cutting emissions, one bog at a time

Artificial Intelligence in policing: safeguards needed against mass surveillance

World Cancer Day: Here’s how perceptions about the disease differ around the world

Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum shuts down with no real replacement. EU’s Triton instead might put lives at risk

Europe bows to Turkey’s rulers, sends Syrian refugees back to chaos

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Mobile World Congress 2021: Barcelona 08 June-01 July

Darfur peace process at a ‘standstill’ as demonstrations against Sudanese Government continue

Achieving targets on energy helps meet other Global Goals, UN forum told

When Can Everyone Pluck the Grapes?

These vending machines are giving out free short stories to London commuters

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

There’s a single-use plastic you’ll throw away today without realising

Malaria could be gone by the middle of the century. Here’s how

Impact of high-fats food regimen on immune activity, tumor growth.

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: