RewirEd X: Gordon Brown “Time lost in education this year cannot be lost for good”

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  • Gordon Brown amongst 80 speakers from 40 countries for RewirEdX
  • Former UK Prime Minister says he was ‘shocked’ by the level of coordination during the crisis and that ‘it has not been good enough’
  • Global leaders in education say International Cooperation a must to safeguard the future of education
  • Collaboration between ‘new and unlikely allies’ highlighted as key
Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education has said that he has been ‘shocked’ by the level of coordination over the last year.

The former UK Prime Minister was speaking at the opening session of RewirEdX which focused on the implications of such an unprecedented year for the education sector.

“What has shocked me in the last year is that while there have been so many great initiatives by countries, individuals and organisations, the overall level of co-ordination has not been good enough.” Said Gordon Brown. He also called for “a strengthening of international co-operation at government leaders’ level over the next year”.

RewirEdX is billed as a key staging-post on the road to long-term collective change in education whereby the lessons learned from COVID-19 can be rolled out universally. Chief amongst these is the vital importance of connectivity in underpinning effective distance learning and so making education accessible to all.

Mr Brown said 150 billion (USD) in Education budgets are set to be lost over the next year and that there is a requirement to look at “innovative financing” and multi-lateral not bi-lateral funding. He also commented that the G20 has a role in getting world leaders “committed to wiring up the world”.

“We need to have a recovery initiative taken by the leaders of the world. Part of that global initiative must be the centrality of education because education unlocks health, it unlocks gender equality, it unlocks sustainable development, and employment opportunity. We’ve got to be single minded about this”.

“There are 800 million learning poor. We must have a recovery fund which speaks to this.”

The Italian Minister of Public Education, Lucia Azzolina also agreed that it was key to mobilise leaders from across the world to invest in education.

Azzolina and Brown were joined on the panel by Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

who commented “This is a moment that we have as a World.  It is one that we should not waste. So if the G7 and the G20 next year and The World Bank, IMF and World Economic Forum can drive this as the number one issue, the issue that will change the world (by) bring equalityThe most marginalised children just do not have a chance because they’re not connected, but if we can connect every school in the world to the internet, and every leaver to learning, it will change the future of our world. It will give us a world in which everyone has an opportunity.”

Julia Gillard, former Australian Prime Minister & Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education said “What we have learnt from this year is the pressing issue of the digital divide.” The GPE has provided $580m (USD) in funding so far during the crisis putting “gender at the heart of the response” following its learnings from the previous Ebola crisis.

Much of the discussion was centred around the technology infrastructure required in the future but Ms Gillard highlighted that “Technology needs teachers to make it come alive. If we are going to transform Education around the World we need to also be investing in high quality teaching. If we want to do big things then we need to do it at a massive scale.”

Even before Coronavirus struck, education was in crisis. 617 million young people lack basic maths and literacy skills while by 2030, 200 million children were projected to have no schooling at all and only 60% would complete upper secondary education.

Experts believe the widespread disruption of children’s studies by the pandemic will further increase the disparities in education. Learning opportunities will become further reduced for girls, as well as for those living in poor or rural areas, those living with disabilities, refugees and those forcibly displaced.

This year’s virtual conference is a precursor to the December 2021 summit, part of the major Expo 2020 event in Dubai, which will focus on three main issues in the sector – youth and future skills, education financing and innovation in education. The summit will set goals of equitable access to quality education worldwide, showcasing scalable innovations from all the participating countries with the aim of securing agreement on the key commitments which will transform young people’s  learning and earning potential in the next 10 years.

About RewirEd:

RewirEd is a global platform with a clear vision: to rewire education for a prosperous and sustainable future. RewirEdX is a virtual conference that will serve as a 1-year countdown to the RewirEd Summit. The virtual conference aims to enhance connectivity between education policymakers and practitioners by sharing, discussing and debating perspectives in response to COVID-19, and the new reality that follows. The event is to be hosted by Dubai Cares and Expo 2020 Dubai, in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC). The organisation aims to be a catalyst in redefining education to ensure a future that is prosperous, sustainable, innovative and accessible to all.

You can keep up to date with progress and news from the conference by following the hashtags #RewirEdX