Creating Learning Infrastructures Is Key to Achieving SDG4

A panel of educators discusses a global ecosystem approach to education at the Asia Society in New York on September 18, 2017. (Ellen Wallop/Asia Society)

NEW YORK, September 21, 2017 — Global and local leaders in the fields of education and health met in New York this week to discuss how creating a global ecosystem for education could help achieve the sustainable development goal on quality and inclusive education for all (SDG4), part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The event "What Global Education Can Learn from Public Health: Strengthening a Global Ecosystem to Achieve Quality Education for All," held on September 18 at the Asia Society on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly sessions, marked two years since the UN announced the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Gina Lagomarsino, President and CEO of Results for Development, and Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and former head of USAID Health, shared lessons from the global health ecosystem.

In discussing how the health sector has gained from investments in learning infrastructures, Lagomarsino pointed out that "just 3 percent of official [overseas] development assistance (ODA) in education went to global public goods in 2013. But by comparison, 21 percent of ODA in the health sector was spent on global public goods, which amounts to $4.7 billion." This has translated into a massive difference, and enabled the "creation of a robust ecosystem for health," which helped accelerate progress in the health sector. Over the last 35 years, this type of ecosystem has been successful at the local level in a number of ways, catalyzing improvements such as immunization and the fights against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

A similar system has yet to be created in the education space, however. Monday's discussion brought to light what education advocates and practitioners can learn from the successes and challenges of their health sector colleagues.

J. Puckett, ‎Senior Partner and Managing Director of The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), supported the recommendation made one year ago by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity — chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown — to further invest in and support a global ecosystem for education.

Presenting BCG's preliminary analysis on the current state of the global education ecosystem, which included surveys and interviews with key stakeholders, Puckett noted that "in light of the current state of education, there is growing consensus that we need to share more, and we need to look across borders and learn from one another."

A panel, moderated by Tony Jackson, Director of the Center for Global Education at the Asia Society, discussed the implications a global ecosystem would have on the education sector. Panelists included Alice Albright, CEO of the Global Partnership for Education; Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach For All; Ju-Ho Lee, Education Commissioner and former Minister of Education of the Republic of Korea; and Dolores Dickson, Executive Director of Camfed Ghana.

Albright said that education leaders need to make the strongest possible case internationally about why they need more international resources, including "a strong results narrative, a strong narrative about how education is foundational in achieving all the other SDGs, the role that it plays in a much broader — foreign policy — debate, for example."

Kopp shared how her experiences at the national level with Teach For America and globally with Teach For All led her to realize that most issues education leaders are addressing are very similar at the root level. "The silver lining is that local leaders could be learning so much from each other across borders. I was seeing that, and also having come from this national space, where there was so much opportunity to learn from community to community, to the global space where it just felt like: where is the learning infrastructure? How are we helping all these local folks learn from each other?"

In her experience in Ghana, Dickson highlighted that investing in best practices and learning across borders can help keep as many children in school as possible. "The cost of education is not just the funding coming through government, but there is also private funding coming from parents. For poor parents who cannot fund that, there is a need for us to look for innovative ways to encourage children to stay in school." She added, "Investing in public goods, and innovations like that, can really help manage the cost of education even at [the community] level."

The event concluded with plans to reconvene at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) in November in Doha, Qatar, to discuss to the findings of the analysis that BCG and WISE are currently conducting in identifying what currently exists in the education ecosystem as well as the critical gaps to be filled.

This event was co-presented by the Center for Global Education at the Asia Society, Teach For All, Results for Development, and the Center for Universal Education at Brookings, with support from Credit Suisse.

Watch the recording of the full session below.

About the Center for Global Education at Asia Society

The Center for Global Education at Asia Society is a network of educators, nonprofits, parents, businesses, and community members who share our mission to spread best practices and to promote good policies so the rising generation is ready for college, career — and the interconnected world beyond.

About the Center for Universal Education at Brookings 

Founded in 2002, the Center for Universal Education (CUE) is one of the leading policy centers focused on universal quality education, particularly in the developing world. We develop and disseminate effective solutions for quality education and skills development. We envision a world where all children and youth have the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century. The Center plays a critical role in influencing the development of policy related to global education and promotes actionable strategies for governments, civil society and private enterprise.

About Results for Development 

Results for Development (R4D) is a leading nonprofit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents around the world — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — to create strong systems that support healthy, educated people. We help our partners move from knowing their goal to knowing how to reach it. We combine global expertise in health, education and nutrition with analytic rigor, practical support for decision-making and implementation and access to peer problem-solving networks. Together with our partners, we build self-sustaining systems that serve everyone and deliver lasting results. Then we share what we learn so others can achieve results for development, too.

About Teach For All 

Teach For All is a global network of 45 independent, locally led and governed partner organizations and a global organization that works to accelerate the progress of the network. Each network partner recruits and develops promising future leaders to teach in their nations’ high-need schools and communities and, with this foundation, to work with others, inside and outside of education, to ensure all children are able to fulfill their potential. Teach For All’s global organization works to increase the network’s impact by providing partners with direct support, facilitating connections among them, accessing global resources, and fostering the leadership development of partner staff, teachers, and alumni. For more information, follow Teach For All on Twitter @TeachForAll and Facebook:

About Credit Suisse 

Credit Suisse AG is one of the world's leading financial services providers and is part of the Credit Suisse group of companies (referred to here as 'Credit Suisse'). As an integrated bank, Credit Suisse offers clients its combined expertise in the areas of private banking, investment banking and asset management. Credit Suisse provides advisory services, comprehensive solutions and innovative products to companies, institutional clients and high-net-worth private clients globally, as well as to retail clients in Switzerland. Credit Suisse is headquartered in Zurich and operates in over 50 countries worldwide. The group employs approximately 46’230 people. The registered shares (CSGN) of Credit Suisse's parent company, Credit Suisse Group AG, are listed in Switzerland and, in the form of American Depositary Shares (CS), in New York.