By Baela Raza Jamil, CEO, Idara-e-Taleem-o_Aagahi (ITA)
The Commission is a unique group, a collection of 27 leaders – former heads of state and government, ministers, Nobel Laureates, and educators – committed to delivering an education to all children. Throughout our conversations, youth voices have played a prominent role, contributing insights on how we can realize the Learning Generation vision. And it has been a privilege to work alongside Commission Chair Gordon Brown – a tireless education champion whose passion to deliver education to every child has compelled other world leaders to take action. I could not agree more when he states that delivering an education to all “is the civil rights struggle of our generation.”
The Commission’s work has been groundbreaking from The Learning Generation report to the proposed International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd), to the Pioneer Country Initiative. These initiatives are inclusive and actively crowd-in voices from civil society to ensure efforts are harmonized. Thematic areas of the Commission’s work include early childhood development, harnessing technology for teaching and learning, diversifying the education workforce, financial innovations and inclusivity, among others. All the Commission’s efforts are guided by “progressive universalism” – pursuing quality education for all while prioritizing the most disadvantaged populations. These ideas have been backed by more than 50 cutting-edge studies commissioned for The Learning Generation report.
The Education Commission has proactively participated in strategic forums ranging from the UN General Assembly and the G20, to the E-9 Ministerial meeting and the World Bank/IMF Spring and Annual Meetings. Collaborations with universities, governments, citizens, and the private sector enable the Commission to come closer to its goals.
In my capacity as an Education Commissioner and head of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), the largest learning and social accountability movement and equity initiative in Pakistan, I have had the honor of representing the Commission at some of these forums, including the E-9 Ministerial Meeting in Dhaka, the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) Annual Meeting in Atlanta, and the UKFIET Education and Development Forum in Oxford. As someone who has dared to live and act by the urgency and innovation that comes with breakthrough ideas, all the Commission’s work to date – and all that is in store – inspires me to intensify my actions. All this is to say: new ideas should be embraced, not feared. The Pioneer Country Initiative has had a strong start in Africa, with Asian countries eager to follow suit, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries with high populations.
While youth and civil society engagement and mobilization are accessible in Pakistan, the country’s federating units lie across nine geographical and political spaces which constrains the ability of the state to make and implement policy. In 2010, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution eliminated the concurrent list of subjects including education, devolving all powers to the provinces. This creates an opportunity for the Commission’s Pioneer Country Initiative to engage at the sub-national level.
The four transformations and 12 recommendations for action in The Learning Generationreport are not about rhetoric. Rather, they represent a credible plan of action for those who are ready to engage with the Commission’s solutions. The Pioneer Countries currently include 14 African and several Asian countries that have committed to undertaking bold reforms combining high performance, innovation, inclusion, finance, and leveraging domestic resources for lifelong learning and lasting sustainable development. The past two years have enabled the Commission to bring together a powerful agenda for action. When Gordon Brown called and asked me to join the group, I replied, “This is a call to action I cannot refuse.” What an exciting journey it has been.
Baela Raza Jamil, CEO Idara-e-Taleem-o_Aagahi (ITA), ASER Pakistan and Member, Peoples Action for Learning (PAL) Network