When education funding is cut, everyone pays the price
By Ray Douse, Co-Founder of Whizz Education
The challenges that educators face today must not be divorced from other priorities. In the US, for example, the Biden administration’s multi-pronged policy agenda is demonstrative of education’s interconnectedness with other sectors. As well as tackling COVID-19 head-on, President Biden has vowed to address the economic impacts of the pandemic, while also seeking solutions to climate change and undertaking a national reckoning on issues of equity and social justice.
In a global context, too, our educational agenda must exist in harmony with other sector goals. As reported by UNESCO, some two-thirds of low and middle income countries are cutting educational expenditure as they seek to balance their budgets in light of significant, unprecedented public health investment. A tragic knock-on effect of the pandemic is that education has been squeezed into the margins, falsely pitted against short-term health and economic objectives.
Youth advocacy is essential to safeguarding society from existential threats to social cohesion and to our environment. But this, in turn, depends on an informed and conscientious citizenry, the underpinning of which is a robust and sustainable education system. If we heed Nelson Mandela’s characterisation of education as ‘the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ then we must reverse our intent with regards to education funding. A critical lesson of the pandemic is that we need to seize upon educational innovation to provide remote learning options during public health crises.