Save Our Future: Averting an Education Catastrophe for the World’s Children

Publication language
Date published
22 Oct 2020
Save Our Future Coalition
Plans, policy and strategy
Children & youth, COVID-19, Epidemics & pandemics, Education, Funding and donors, Gender, Gender Equality (SDG)
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Asian Development Bank, BRAC International

Ninety percent of students in all countries and continents – nearly 1.6 billion school children and youth – had their education disrupted at the height of pandemic lockdowns, marking the greatest disruption of education in history. With the catalytic impact education has across health, jobs, income growth, climate change, poverty reduction, and social justice, the next generation faces devastating consequences if this education emergency is not addressed.

Despite the dire and known social and economic impacts of this fast-growing education emergency, there is imminent risk that governments will deprioritize investments in education as they make short-term fiscal responses to the pandemic. This means that low- and lower-middle-income countries could face an annual financing gap of about $200 billion. If governments and development partners do not invest in education urgently, this crisis could turn into a catastrophe from which millions of children may never recover, particularly marginalized vulnerable children and adolescents, including refugees, girls, and children with disabilities.

The white paper—Save Our Future: Averting an Education Catastrophe for the World’s Children—recommends that governments and the international community commit to:

  • Protecting education budgets and targeting budgets to those left furthest behind,
  • Fully financing education as a key part of the COVID recovery,
  • Improving coordination and use of evidence to ensure education funding achieves maximum impact. The future of an entire generation is at stake. In addition, governments should also:
  • Prioritize safely reopening schools, resume delivering vital services such as health and nutrition to children, and protect the education workforce,
  • Transform education – making it more inclusive, engaging, and adaptive so that it can act as the engine of sustainable development desperately needed,
  • Strengthen the education workforce so that teachers and other professionals are equipped to enable learning and well-being for all children,
  • Focus education technology where it is proven to be effective and most equitable and avoid the risk that technology continues to exacerbate inequality.