Strengthening education systems is critical in order to ‘build back better’

Updated: Sep 9

Amid the coronavirus crisis, governments around the world have taken swift action and shifted funding priorities to meet immediate public health and economic needs.


While these areas are undoubtedly critical, it is also important that education remains a top priority. In many countries, education funding is at risk due to the pandemic, and cuts could exacerbate the ongoing learning crisis.


With COVID-19’s impact on education at the forefront of global discussions, WISE recently hosted the virtual event “Education Disrupted, Education Reimagined Part II”.


On the panel, “Cross-sectional coalition building,” Dr. Amel Karboul, EOF CEO, Sherrie Westin, President of Social Impact and Philanthropy for Sesame Workshop, and Thor Ellegaard, CEO of EdTech Denmark, addressed how cross-sector collaboration could help education systems to become more agile and inclusive. Matthew Swift, CEO and Co-Founder of Concordia, moderated the discussion, with more than 300 people listening in.


The panelists discussed how COVID-19 has stimulated partnerships between the public and private sectors. Dr. Karboul emphasized that organizations should build on this momentum and take a fresh look at multi-stakeholder partnerships, calling for a new kind of PPP: “partnerships for public purpose.”


Rather than debating the merits of the public versus private sectors, Dr. Karboul suggested shifting to a culture that focuses on accountability, effectiveness, and outcomes.


A host of innovative approaches to making education systems more effective was discussed. For example, Thor Ellegaard highlighted how private sector ed-tech companies and schools can work together: companies can select schools to pilot their products and provide feedback, while students and teachers are able to be on the frontlines of using new technologies. Such partnerships could help brace against the detrimental impacts on education budgets brought about by the coronavirus.


Dr. Karboul underlined the vital importance of safeguarding education systems and argued that they should be viewed as integral to long-term economic recovery:


The question is: how can we create a narrative that…education is a solution… for every dollar, euro, that you spend on economic recovery, you should spend the same in education.”


Looking to the future, it is certain that the consequences of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come. Governments should recognize the potential of education to help “build back better” and leverage the power of partnerships that operate with purpose and accountability.


Watch the full event here.