The turn of 2020 has set the clock ticking on the 10-year countdown for the world to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including Sustainable Development Goal 4: inclusive and equitable, quality education that leaves no one behind. This year will also mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing +25) and the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2020), which will take place in June in Kigali.
Recognising the centrality of education to the entire sustainable development agenda, at CHOGM 2018 leaders committed to providing “the opportunity for at least 12 years of quality education and learning for girls and boys by 2030” with a special focus on marginalised groups, including disadvantaged girls, children with disabilities, and out-of-school youth. In other words, to accelerate progress towards delivering on quality education for all children everywhere, leaders committed to putting the furthest behind first.
We must deliver on every girl’s right to a quality education
In the last two decades, significant progress has been made towards gender parity in school enrolment rates, particularly at the primary school level. However, gender equality in education is not only about getting children into school, it is also about what happens in classrooms to enable all girls and all boys to benefit equally.
Today, too many school girls are not mastering the basics of numeracy and literacy. In fact, research indicates that 90% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are not meeting minimal proficiency levels in reading by the time they complete primary school, and the transition from primary to secondary level remains a time when girls are particularly vulnerable to dropping out of education completely.
And yet we know that education is a fundamental human right and the foundation stone for sustainable development. When girls can fulfil that right, they acquire knowledge and skills that help them take ownership of their lives, homes and communities. Education empowers girls to have greater agency over their life choices, benefit from better health outcomes, and achieve a higher earning potential.
In spite of this, the world is failing to deliver on its promise of quality education, and girls remain the most marginalised. Only when every girl has the opportunity to learn, lead and succeed will we see long-term progress across the Global Goals, including Sustainable Development Goal 5: gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
Leave No Girl Behind: accelerating action for 12 years of quality education
This International Day of Education, we join partners in launching a new wave of activism for girls’ education. Leave No Girl Behind is a global campaign that is bringing together governments, civil society, educationists and youth across the world to accelerate action to deliver 12 years of quality education for all girls. Harnessing the power of partnership, the campaign aims to galvanise increased financial investment, political will, and the implementation of proven interventions to ensure that every girl gets the education she needs to transform her life and secure her future.
Established in 2018, the Platform for Girls’ Education is one dimension of the Leave No Girl Behind Campaign — a group of 12 influential figures with a shared commitment to ensuring all girls complete 12 years of quality education. In partnership with the REAL Centre at the University of Cambridge and the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), the Platform is developing a series of policy papers that provide insights into how we, as a global community, can work together to break down barriers to girls’ education.
With CHOGM 2020 just six months away, now is the time to convert ambition into concrete, sustainable and effective action and drive forward political momentum to advance girls’ education and gender equality across the Commonwealth and the world.
Want to learn more about the work of the Leave No Girl Behind Campaign?
Sign up to join a network of girls’ education activists and receive updates about the #LeaveNoGirlBehind Campaign here.
Learn more about the background, goals and direction of the campaign here.
Read the REAL Centre research summary report: 12 years of quality education for all girls.