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UN Transforming Education Summit Round-up

UN Transforming Education Summit Round-up

Written by

Sheba George

Published on

September 30, 2022

Held at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, between 16-19 September 2022, the Transforming Education Summit (TES) was convened in response to a global crisis of equity, quality, and relevance in education. The first of its kind, this high-level summit gathered representatives from over 130 countries and aimed to mobilize political ambition, action, and solutions with a view to transforming education and accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 (on inclusive and equitable quality education) between now and 2030.

The TES came at a critical point in time, as countries around the world were grappling to respond to the ongoing 'global learning crisis' (a term used to describe the widespread lack or inefficiency of learning systems that have resulted in millions of children not attaining foundational educational skills in basic reading and mathematics). As the World Bank notes, humanitarian and political emergencies of the past few years including the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the Taliban's ban on secondary education for girls in Afghanistan have exacerbated the learning crisis by sharply increasing 'learning poverty' rates (a measure of children unable to read and understand a simple passage by age 10) - which if left unaddressed, could jeopardize the future of millions of children and undermine the economic prosperity of their countries. In attempts to mitigate the learning crisis from resulting in generational learning losses, the TES was conveyed with the aim of mobilizing widespread commitments towards prioritizing education measures, revitalizing national and global efforts to achieve SDG 4, and re-imagining education systems for the future.

What were the key objectives and focus areas of the TES?


The TES focused on addressing the ongoing crisis and mobilizing commitments to transform education systems for the future. Key objectives included:

  • Unifying efforts to re-imagine education systems, taking stock of efforts to recover pandemic-related learning losses, and revitalizing national and global efforts to achieve SDG 4;
  • Mobilizing national and international commitments to transform education; and
  • Garnering greater public engagement around and support for transforming education.

Thematic focus areas

Five thematic action areas were identified for the TES. These were areas believed to require the most urgent global attention and were estimated to have the most potential to accelerate progress in education. These included:

  • Inclusive, equitable, safe, and healthy schools;
  • Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development;
  • Teachers, teaching, and the teaching profession;
  • Digital learning and transformation; and
  • Financing of education.

What were the key commitments and calls to action made at the TES?


After 115 national consultations that brought together leaders, teachers, students, civil society, and other partners to gather collective recommendations on the most urgent asks in the education sector, the following commitments were undertaken by attending member states at the TES:

  • 30% of countries committed to supporting the psycho-social well-being of students and teachers;
  • 50% of countries prioritized measures to address learning loss;
  • 67% of countries committed to "rebooting" their education systems and accelerating action to end the learning crisis; and
  • 75% of countries underlined the importance of gender-sensitive education policies in their commitments.

Global 'Calls to Action'

The following seven global ‘calls to action’ were launched at the TES with the aim of mobilizing political commitment for transforming education, beyond the summit:

  • “Greening education” to get every learner climate-ready;
  • Connecting every child and young person to digital solutions;
  • Addressing the crisis in foundational learning among young learners;
  • Transforming education systems to enable all crisis-affected children and youth to access inclusive, quality, safe learning opportunities, and continuity of education;
  • Advancing gender equality and girls and women’s empowerment;
  • Transforming the financing of education by investing more, more equitably, more efficiently, and more innovatively; and
  • Empowering young people to be effective leaders in reshaping education.

'Commitments to action' for addressing the learning crisis

Recognizing that 'foundational learning' (which refers to basic literacy, numeracy, and transferable skills such as socio-emotional skills) was a key element to transforming education and addressing the learning crisis, the following commitments were finalized:

  • Taking urgent and decisive action, where learning levels are low, to ensure that all children, including the most marginalized, realize their full potential;
  • Reducing the global share of children unable to read and understand a simple text by age ten, by half, by 2030;
  • Ensuring recovery and accelerating learning, by immediately enrolling all children and keeping them in school (particularly focusing on marginalized girls); increasing access to remedial and catch-up learning and teaching children at their current learning levels; supporting teachers, giving them the tools that they need; and supporting the health, nutrition and psycho-social well-being of every teacher and child; and
  • Working together to close the education resource gap, enabling investments, leveraging technologies and other reforms, needed to effectively advance foundational learning.

Sheba George

Sheba George

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