It was in this function that I attended the Transforming Education Summit (‘the TES’) in late September. For the first time ever, the UN hosted a Heads of State summit focused on education during the UN General Assembly to shine a spotlight on ‘the global education crisis’. Nine out of ten children in low-income countries cannot read a basic paragraph by age ten. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused further loss, further inequity within education systems, and prompted a host of calls to rethink what education is for and how it is delivered.

Many are saying that the TES marked a turning point to transform education systems. But did anyone fly out of New York City clear and confident on what they, as an individual, organisation or wider community of education actors, are going to do differently?

Philanthropy, at least, will do just that: 58 organisations in the philanthropy community signed a statement put forth by the OECD netFWD and IEFG, setting out what we commit to doing more of, if not differently. We have indeed committed to support local actors, enable a culture of evidence in education, and work in partnership to achieve more-than-the-sum-of-parts impact.

And we will start work now. We will start by establishing a culture of listening, a culture of asking questions rather than jumping to easy answers.

  • What does ‘local’ mean? Is it realistic to expect an entire funding community to align behind the front lines with promises of funding, when the estimated capital at our disposal is miniscule compared to what is needed to move the needle on education?
  • We want to support a culture of evidence in education. Are we even equipped to become learning organisations, evaluating our own pilots and programmes and being honest about success and failure?
  • We commit to working better together, across siloes. But are we ready to see collaboration as more than co-funding and fighting amongst ourselves on whose priority gets picked for that purpose?

Read the full article about global education philanthropy by Simon Sommer at Alliance Magazine.