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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala join Gordon Brown to call for urgent action to solve the learning crisis

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and EJS Center Board Member Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala have joined former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in calling for urgent, global action to tackle the learning crisis.

With over one billion children still out of school as a result of the pandemic, the letter addresses how COVID-19 has put the learning opportunities of an entire generation at risk. It calls for G20 leaders to establish a strong and coordinated global response to minimize the consequences of this public health crisis on education, which have been particularly severe in developing countries. 

“Even before COVID-19, the world faced a learning crisis. Over half of the children in developing countries suffer from “learning poverty” and even at age 11 have little or no basic literacy and numeracy skills. As a result, 800 million of today’s young people leave education with no qualifications whatsoever. If we are to avoid this, the millions of children who are now preparing to return to school, having lost over a half-year of education, need their governments to invest in catch-up programs and proper learning assessment.”

Madam Sirleaf has long been a strong advocate for protecting education during times of crisis, having worked to rebuild Liberia’s education system following decades of conflict and, later, the Ebola epidemic. She has placed particular emphasis on the importance of ensuring that girls are not left behind when education is disrupted.

The ‘Letter to the International Community’ was published by Project Syndicate and signed by 225 former Heads of State and Government, economists and health experts worldwide.

To read it in full, click here.

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