On January 24, as students in Ontario were getting back into the classroom following another province-wide school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian leaders addressed the current global learning crisis with a recent global parliamentarian exchange to commemorate International Day of Education.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development Anita Vandenbeld and the Honourable Kenyan MP Florence Mutua co-hosted the event titled Tackling the Global Learning Crisis: A Pathway to Recovery. The virtual event was co-organized by the International Parliamentary Network for Education and non-profit advocacy organizations Results Canada and RESULTS UK.
The pandemic has highlighted just how critical being in the classroom is for ensuring children can develop foundational skills such as reading, writing, and math. Unfortunately, even before the pandemic, in many low-income countries only one in 10 children could read by the age of 10 compared to nine in 10 in high-income countries like Canada.
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Canada has played a leading role in global education through the 2018 Charlevoix declaration and most recently, the Together for Learning campaign that aims to promote access to quality and inclusive education for refugees and forcibly displaced children. Despite these efforts, learning outcomes remain staggeringly low and the skills children acquire from their education remain limited. With classroom learning taking the backburner due to the pandemic, children across the world continue to lose out on developing foundational skills that are critical in contributing to the economy, developing psycho-social skills, understanding their rights, or – especially important during the pandemic – maintaining their health.
For International Day of Education, parliamentarians like Parliamentary Secretary Anita Vandenbeld addressed the global learning crisis that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Canada has made great strides in global education and must continue to lead by prioritizing quality learning for all students, by measuring learning outcomes so children can develop the foundational skills they need to strive and thrive in the future.
- Joseph Nhan-O'Reilly, co-founder and executive director, International Parliamentary Network for Education