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

This is what you need to know about the Iran nuclear deal

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

Global South cooperation ‘vital’ to climate change fight, development, Guterres tells historic Buenos Aires summit

On Youth Participation: Are we active citizens?

MWC 2016 LIVE: Verizon boasts momentum for IoT platform

In 1975 NASA envisioned future life in space would look like this

Human rights ‘core to sustainable development’: deputy UN chief

Alarming number of women mistreated during childbirth, new UN health agency figures show

Service and Sacrifice: Ugandan ‘Blue Helmets’ support UN efforts to bring peace to Somalia

Withdrawal Agreement: Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

This is how we can empower 8 billion minds by 2030

MEPs call on EU Commission to step up action against dangerous chemicals

It’s down to cities to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030

4 key steps to support cross-border payments and digital trade growth

A Brussels antithesis reveals where the EU is heading

Balancing The Broken See-Saw of Gender Power Dynamics as a Medical Student

IMF: When high yield goes boom

VP McGuinness on women’s rights: “Not an option, but a duty”

Blockchain will make sure green pledges aren’t just greenwash: a new initiative by young leaders at the World Economic Forum

Why countries are desperate to defy the odds and access Mars

Egypt: The road to hell paved with western advices for democracy

Rohingya emergency one year on: UN says thousands of lives saved, but challenges remain

5 ways CEOs can renew their businesses for the digital age

MWC 2016 LIVE: Stripe gives payments leg-up to startups in emerging markets

Tackling pollution and climate change in Europe will improve health and well-being, especially for the most vulnerable

UN experts voice ‘deep concern’ over Iran’s ‘consistent pattern’ of denying life-saving medical treatment to detainees

3 lessons from running an AI-powered start-up in Africa

How studying genetics and lifestyle can shape a healthier MENA region

Fighting crime: faster EU-wide exchange of non-EU nationals’ criminal records

China Unlimited: an exclusive interview with the former Ambassador of Hungary to China

Financial abuse of elderly ‘rampant, but invisible’, says UN expert

George Floyd: these are the injustices that led to the protests in the United States

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Will Europe be able to deal with the migration crisis alone if Turkey quits the pact?

Code of Practice on Disinformation one year on: online platforms submit self-assessment reports

Electric vehicles are half the market in Norway

EU mobilises further €15.2 million humanitarian support for food safety, epidemics preparedness and support to people in conflict areas in Latin America and Caribbean

Universal Health Coverage will ‘drive progress’ on 2030 Development Agenda

Marco Polo’s Dream

UN Convention that promotes mediation to resolve trade disputes moves closer to entry into force

6 principles to unite business in the fight against cybercrime

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of Metallo by Aurubis

If a virus could sing … Could this musical version of COVID-19 help us defeat the disease?

‘Exercise restraint’ Guterres urges Sri Lankans, as political crisis deepens

How global food safety protects the planet and begins on the farm

Electronic cigarettes – The alternative we’ve been looking for?

EU Strategy on COVID-19 vaccines must guarantee safety and accessibility for all

UN Security Council offers Yemen Special Envoy ‘their full support’

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

Why EU’s working and unemployed millions remain uncertain or even desperate about their future

Confidence-building measures continue in new Yemen prisoner-swap talks

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

The new European Union of banks is ready

New Syria fighting represents ‘giant powder keg’, warns aid veteran, as he leaves UN stage

Sweden must urgently implement reforms to boost fight against foreign bribery

Young people worldwide can ‘determine the future of migration,’ says UN senior official

‘Reasons to hope’ for sustainable peace in Central African Republic – UN Mission chief

Why artificial intelligence is learning emotional intelligence

More Stings?

Advertising

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