Covid-19: Global call to tackle education emergency
Former UK prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on Tuesday joined economists Amartya Sen, Kaushik Basu and 270 others to call for urgent action to deal with the education emergency across the globe triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Noting that over 1 billion children are out of school due to the crisis, they wrote in an open letter to G20, governments and financial institutions that the immediate concern is the fate of an estimated 30 million children who, according to Unesco, may never return to school.
“We cannot stand by and allow these young people to be robbed of their education and a fair chance in life…Resources are now urgently needed to get young people back into education and enable them to catch up”, they wrote.
Signatories include former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, former Sri Lanka president Chandrika Kumaratunga, academic Kwame Anthony Appiah, former president of the European Commission Jean Claude-Juncker, former US official Thomas Pickering, and former Ireland president Mary Robinson.
Among urgent measures needed, they wrote, is the suspension of $86 billion in debt-service costs for two years of the 76 poorest countries and the International Monetary fund issuing $1.2 trillion in special drawing rights (its global reserve asset) for the needy countries.
They wrote: “(The) World bank should unlock more support for low-income countries through a supplementary International Development Association budget, and…invite additional guarantees and grants from donors.”
“Now is the time for national governments and the international community to come together to give children and young people the opportunities they deserve and to which they are entitled”, they added.
Other signatories include academics Richard Sorabji (Oxford), Devi Sridhar (Edinburgh), British MPs Preet Kaur Gill and Sarah Champion, and former Pakistan prime minster Shaukat Aziz.
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