Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be here at the World Bank/IMF Spring meeting, and to speak on the critical topic of making education work for the next generation.
Let me start by commending the Global Business Coalition for Education for its steadfast work to accelerate progress in delivering quality education for all of the world’s children and youth.
The urgency of this agenda cannot be understated.
At the moment, it pains me to say, we are failing our future generations.
Education systems today have left millions of children out of school.
Millions more, despite years in school, are failing to acquire basic competencies in reading and math.
Most of those out of school are girls.
Just 1 per cent of poor rural young women in low-income countries complete secondary school, and two thirds of the world’s 758 million illiterate adults are women.
Today’s digital and green economies require high-skilled workers with specific training in a wide range of professional sectors.
Yet across countries there is a mismatch between education, training and labour markets. This calls for far closer collaboration with the private sector to build pathways between education and labour markets.
Children and youth in conflict-affected contexts are especially vulnerable.
Half of refugees have no access to secondary education.
The Education Cannot Wait Initiative over the past year has made a significant difference.
However, the scale of need from Syria to Yemen to the Democratic Republic of the Congo is enormous.
Our collective efforts to ensure education in crisis must be maintained at all cost. This will also help combat exclusion, marginalization and radicalization.
If we are to rise to the multiple challenges of sustainable development, education itself needs to be transformed.
This understanding is at the heart of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education.
Education needs to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and values to take informed decisions and become active, responsible global citizens.
While the responsibility for providing schools and ensuring quality education lies with Governments, the business community has an important role to play.
You have already been engaging on humanitarian relief through the Education Cannot Wait Fund, on inclusive, quality education through the Global Partnership for Education, and on leveraging new financing for education through the proposed the International Finance Facility for Education.
But you can do more. You can, for example, help us to better understand labour market trends and skills needs, thereby facilitating the school-to-work transition.
You can also promote innovative approaches to education challenges.
And you can help to create education opportunities by providing additional services and activities to reach the most marginalized.
We will also look to you and other partners to help reduce the enormous gap in financing that the education sector faces -- a shortfall estimated by UNESCO at more than $39 billion.
The United Nations is also eager to work with philanthropic organizations and foundations, on education and, indeed, across the 2030 Agenda.
The reform underway aims to transform the way UN works on the ground with stronger partnerships between the UN system and governments, business and civil society.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In closing I would like to make an appeal to the Global Business Coalition and all partners to ensure that our collective efforts are better coordinated and more fully aligned to deliver on the ambition of SDG4.
One way to improve and strengthen these efforts is to engage more fully with the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee. This Committee, which represents Member States, multi-lateral agencies, civil society, the private sector and teachers, is a key arena for monitoring progress and ensuring accountability.
Thank you again for your commitment. By working together, we can provide future generations everywhere with the skills, knowledge and capacities to build an inclusive, resilient and sustainable world.