The UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s delivered the following remarks at the Innovative Financing for Lower-Middle-Income Countries side event at the Transforming Education Pre-Summit in Paris on June 29, 2022.
As you know, I have regrettably joined Gordon Brown and many others on the list of those who would have wanted nothing more than to be with you in person today, but I take solace from the fact that, even from my hotel, I can feel the momentum growing towards September. And I can see that we are moving closer to our two primary objectives: birthing a new vision for an education that is fit for the twenty-first century and mobilizing a truly lasting movement that will put that vision into practice over the coming years.
In a few hours, we’ll begin the ministerial segment of our Pre-Summit where we will have the opportunity to hear the perspectives of over 140 national Governments. But, already, yesterday, I heard quite a bit that reinforced the urgency for transformation.
I was particularly moved by our spoken word star, Ayan Said. Speaking at the opening of the youth forum, her words about the way our education systems are excluding and failing to empower a generation of young people hammered home the urgency of what we are doing. And part of the response to that urgency lies in examining every possible option for mobilizing more and better investment in education.
I believe that each and every one of us come at this discussion from the same starting point. That our first priority is to grow the volume and effectiveness of domestic resources for education — growing economies, increasing taxes; strengthening tax systems, tackling corruption, clamping down on illicit financial flows — all of which are central to expanding the revenue base. And I am really looking forward to the discussions in the next two days that will help to further advance and sharpen these proposals.
But, proposals on domestic financing do not and cannot diminish the responsibility of the international community to support developing countries in their journey towards transformation. International financing — especially grants, but also in specific contexts, such as concessional loans — can and must play a bigger role. I therefore welcome today’s discussion on the International Finance Facility for Education.
We know that the challenges in education in lower middle-income countries are immense. And we know also that, as needs grow in these countries, budgets are falling — both national and international. This is a crisis — a truly human crisis that is undermining our ability to solve and prevent a myriad of other crises.
But, herein also lies the opportunity. If we succeed in transforming education, particularly in these countries, we can lay the path for a much wider transformation in our world.
This will not be easy, but it certainly will not happen without more and better financing of education from all sources. I therefore reiterate the Secretary-General’s call to help operationalize the International Finance Facility for Education in the context of the Summit. And I urge public and philanthropic donors and multilateral development banks to join this effort.
With the availability of official development assistance (ODA) for education constrained due to the impacts of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, it is more important than ever that scare resources be leveraged. That is precisely the innovative offer that the International Finance Facility for Education provides.
As you discuss this initiative in further detail today, I urge partners to work through the different steps that can be taken to ensure this facility emerges in a manner that is fully complementary to and coherent with our sources of international financing for education; that it is done in tandem with a growth in overseas development assistance dedicated to education; that gets fully behind a national vision for education transformation.
There is no doubt that our world is in a difficult place, but there are plenty of things we can to together to move us towards a better future for all. Ending the current learning crisis and driving education transformation in one foundational step we can take. And the International Finance Facility for Education is one tool that can support this effort.
So, I encourage you to focus today on how best to get the International Finance Facility for Education off the ground, and more importantly, how, in more concrete terms, to leverage the additional resources it generates to end the current learning crisis and drive the education transformation that our world so desperately needs.