A high-powered group of global leaders, campaigners and celebrities joined forces today to get 57 million children into school and learning.
The Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action was announced at the 2015 Countdown Summit in Washington, DC, to pressure the international community to take action on behalf of children across the world.
The coalition was convened by United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, who said the education crisis was "unacceptable from a moral, economic and global security perspective".
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also addressed the Countdown Summit, which was held in collaboration with A World at School.
Among the key points to emerge from it were:
- The launch of the emergency coalition to work across sectors to accelerate efforts, target countries and marginalised populations and hold donors and governments accountable to deliver results.
- A 500-Day Countdown Campaign for global education has been established with a broad set of partners who have signed up to the overall push until the end of 2015.
- Five hundred young leaders from more than 80 countries have become Global Youth Ambassadors for A World at School.
- A Global Faiths Coalition for Education has been announced and faith organisations are now signing up to be part of the campaign.
The emergency coalition includes singer-songwriter Shakira, actors Jude Law and Goldie Hawn, concert pianist Lang Lang and global icon Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
It has been launched in response to the news that the international community could fall short on the United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG2) to get all children into education by 2015. If the current pace continues it will be 2086 before all children are in school and learning.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon addresses the summit
Shakira said: "The Emergency Coalition for Global Education is challenging society to see how many kids we can get into school by the end of 2015.
"We have 500 days from the start of the campaign to make a real difference. Help us spread the word to get children out of the street and into the classroom."
Mr Brown addressed the summit, speaking to an audience of NGO executives, policy leaders and grassroots campaigners.
He stressed that domestic governments and NGOs must be pushed to honour their commitments to out-of-school children.
He said: "We made a promise to children worldwide that they would be in school by 2015. We must now put education on the international agenda in a way that cannot be ignored. Together we will tackle the key barriers to education - child marriage, child labour and discrimination against girls."
Ban Ki-moon said: "'Today we launch the Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action - a group of prominent youth leaders and many others from around the world who are coming together to work even harder to accelerate progress until the end of 2015 to ensure all girls and boys are in school.
Shazia Ramzan is one of the 500 A World at School Global Youth Ambassadors
"I am especially grateful for the leadership of my UN Special Envoy for Education, who has brought us together today for this event. I thank him for his unwavering fight for children everywhere. And I also thank Mrs Sarah Brown for her support for global education through A World at School's campaign."
The summit culminated in a shared plan of action for a 500-Day Countdown Campaign which will highlight important areas representing the key barriers to education.
Throughout the 500 days, key themes will be highlighted. Every 100 days, another layer will be added to the campaign for universal education. The themes include:
- Children affected by conflict
- Early forced marriage
- Discrimination against girls
- Child labour
- Zero exclusion from education
- Teachers and learning
Sarah Brown, founder of A World at School, unveiled the network of 500 youth ambassadors from more than 80 countries, who will work internationally to promote learning for all.
The ambassadors include education campaigners Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, who were caught up in the Pakistan gun attack on Malala Yousafzai. The youth ambassadors will lobby governments for change, get involved in local projects and try to raise the profile of what is now a full-blown education emergency.
An additional 500 campaigners from Pakistan will join in the coming months.
UN special envoy Gordon Brown with Kainat and Shazia
The youth campaigners will announce a June Takeover of the African Union on the Day of the African Child to highlight the need for urgent action for education.
The Global Faiths Coalition for Education was also announced at the summit.
All faith organisations joining the coalition agree to the following statement:
Education is a fundamental right of every child, the key to expanded opportunity, and a source of peace, prosperity, employment and social cohesion. We find common ground in the desire to realise the right of every child to a free, quality education by the end of 2015 and the achievement of Millennium Development Goal Two.
Discovery Communications - parent company of Discovery Channel, TLC, & Animal Planet and the non-profit Discovery Learning Alliance - were announced as media partners in the 500-Day Countdown Campaign.
The Dangote Foundation was announced as a partner in the campaign alongside other partners, including Dubai Cares.
More than 75 companies have now signed up to support education through the Global Business Coalition for Education.