Invest in education, Mutharika urges developing world

Mana: President Peter Mutharika on Sunday said unless the developing world prioritized investment in education, it would continue to move in a vicious cycle of poverty.

“And the vicious cycle of poverty can only be broken by having inclusive and quality education for global education opportunities,” Mutharika said.

He said governments, communities and people would always have competing and urgent priorities, “but we cannot have a decent hierarchy of priorities wherever education is less prioritized.”

Mutharika was speaking when he addressed a ‘High Level Meeting of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunities’ in New York, USA.

The commission was set up to reinvigorate the case for investing in education and to chart a way for increased investment to develop the potential of all of the world’s young people.

The Prime Minister of Norway, the Presidents of Malawi, Indonesia and Chile and the Director-General of UNESCO convened the meeting following the 2015 Oslo Summit on Education for Development.

At the meeting, the commissioners presented their report which calls for a ‘learning generation’ whereby everyone has an opportunity to education within the next generation.

The commission’s members are current and former heads of state and government, government ministers, five Nobel laureates, and leaders in the fields of education, economics, development, health, and security.

The commission’s mandate was to identify the most effective and accountable ways of mobilizing and deploying resources to help ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to participate, learn and gain the skills they need for adulthood and work in the 21st century.

Mutharika said in his address that Sub Saharan Africa, for instance, was restrained under what he called the double burden of high illiteracy levels and growing inaccessibility to quality education.

“Sometimes, resources are all around us, but they cannot be invested in education because everyone thinks funding education is the responsibility of government,” he said.

He said everyone reaps results of having a society with high illiteracy levels, not to mention the numerous social crises conflicts and social disasters the developing world.

“The private sector cannot progress in a society of high illiteracy levels,” said Mutharika, who is in the USA for the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

“In the end, it benefits everyone when we all invest in education to reduce illiteracy and equip our societies with knowledge and skills.”

According to a report by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, education in many countries is not improving and children are instead falling behind.

The report says that around 263 million young people are out of school and the number of primary school aged children not in school is increasing.

The commission projects that if current trends continue, by 2030 just four out of 10 children of school age in low and middle income countries will be on track to gain basic secondary level skills.

It says that in low-income countries, only one out of 10 will be on track.

The commission’s investment plan for education calls for low and middle income countries to increase domestic expenditures on education from an estimated $1 trillion in 2015 to $2.7 trillion by 2030.

Mutharika lamented that despite the region’s high illiteracy levels, aid towards the education sector in the Sub Saharan Africa had decreased by seven per cent.

“While this demonstrates a lack of commitment from development partners, it also reminds us that we cannot continue to be aid dependent,” he said.

“We need to shift from overreliance on aid in financing education. It is pleasing to note that many developing countries are making efforts in inspiring the private sector to consider financing education.”

Mutharika, however, said it should be acknowledged that sustainability of the approach was a long term endeavor premised on the private sectors’ buy-in.

He said: “And this demands effective partnershipsfor us, our duty is to make sure that the world succeeds in implementing universal education.

“Our collective spirit cannot falter while we search this great dream of the world. Together, our collective will cannot fail our collective responsibility.”

Mutharika said financing education was a collective responsibility for all.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-MOON in his speech commended President Mutharika for his government’s commitment to improving education in the country.

Ban said education was key to eliminating “bad ideologies” that fan terrorism. Education was also a human right issue.

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the commission that millions of girls and boys were condemned to child marriage, labour, or trafficked as children.

“We want to be the first generation where every child goes to school,” said Gordon, who is chairperson for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

He thanked the governments of Malawi, Norway, Indonesia, and Chile, and the UN Secretary General and the Director General of UNESCO for “giving us the chance to make these recommendations.”

Source: Malawi News Agency – MANA