2017 was another packed year for Oshun – our mission of bringing together policy makers, politicians, private sector leaders, civil society and those committed to a fair and equal world has been more important than ever.
The importance of education & teachers
The teaching profession has long been undervalued – so it was a privilege to be part of the Global Teacher Prize that took place in Dubai in March.
The award was part of the Global Education and Skills Forum which brought together over 40 ministers, former Prime Ministers and 2000 delegates from 140 countries for two days of intensive and dynamic ideas exchange.
Often called the ‘Davos’ of education, the theme for this year’s GESF was Creating Global Citizenship. One of the highlights was undoubtedly Julia Gillard debating the motion ‘This House Believes, that Schools should Teach National over Global Values’ opposite Michael Gove MP, the architect of Brexit. It was a lively, good-humoured debate with some cracking lines.
World’s Best Teacher 2017
The winner was Maggie MacDonnell, a Canadian teacher working in an Inuit community called Salluit. Her community is so remote it is only accessible by air. Tragically, this isolated and harsh environment has led the small 1,300 strong community to suffer the highest youth suicide rates in the country. In a poignant speech, there was hardly a dry eye in the house as she described the horror of attending 10 funerals of young people, some of whom went to her school, who had taken their lives in the previous two years. ‘When we come into school the next day and we see the empty desk it’s simply heartbreaking.’ The announcement was made by Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut on the International Space Station.
Her energy and inspirational commitment to bring about change through education in this community that has struggled to attract or retain good teachers was commended by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. It was a thoroughly inspiring few days!
Making waves with water investment
A meeting of leaders of some of the world’s major bottled water brands and retailers was held in Washington D.C. on the 18th April, with experts and officials, to discuss a new Global Investment Fund for Water (GIFFW) to fight water poverty across the developing world. The Co-op UK will be a pioneer partner in this initiative and the only UK retailer at the event.
The meeting was chaired by former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is a global advocate for water and sanitation.
Co-op UK’s commitment to the Global Investment Fund for Water was the first of many momentous financing commitments in 2017 – a few months later, the Global Citizen Festival aimed to encourage more support from global leaders.
Historic momentum for the world’s poorest
On Thursday, July 6, as leaders held final negotiations ahead of the 12th G20 summit in Hamburg, Global Citizen Festival Hamburg took place. More than 11,000 Global Citizens, world and business leaders, non-profit organizations, and socially conscious artists united to rally historic momentum for the world’s poorest at this year’s G20 summit — a collection of major economies that make up 85% of the globe’s GDP.
Many commitments and announcements were made – worth $706 million, and are set to reach more than 113 million people by 2030.
Empowering women’s future through family planning
The Family Planning Summit held in London on 11 July had ambitious objectives to expand access to affordable and effective contraception and advice to millions of women around the world. Co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNFPA and DFID, with Ministers of Health and Development from over 60 countries, the Summit aimed to generate new commitments on a number of different aspects of the agenda.
Oshun Partnership, working with Vivace, produced the Family Planning Summit for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNFPA and Department for International Development.
Committing the UK to increase support for family planning by 20%, spending on average £225million per year for the next five years, Secretary of State Priti Patel said, ‘There are 214 million girls and women in the developing world who don’t want to get pregnant but aren’t currently using modern contraception.’ A woman’s ability to be in charge of her reproductive health is transformational. She can decide if, when and how many children to have, enabling her to plan her family and her life. This can have a profound effect on her ability to lift herself and her family out of poverty, and enable her to contribute economically to her community and wider society.’
Financing the Future of Education
September saw the launch of the GPE replenishment conference with President Macron, President Sall and UNSG commitment to hold summit in Senegal.
Global leaders met in the margins of the UN General Assembly to commit to tackling the global ‘education crisis’ holding back millions of children and threatening progress – including United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed; heads of state of France, Norway, Malawi and Senegal; and education leaders including Malala Yousafzai and UN Special Envoy Gordon Brown.
Around 264 million children and adolescents are not in school and only 1 in 12 young people in low-income countries is on track to gain secondary level skills. Despite some progress in achieving gender equality in the world’s poorest countries, far more girls than boys still do not have access to a quality education.
“Investing in education is the most cost-effective way to drive economic development, improve skills and opportunities for young women and men, and unlock progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Financing education is indeed the best investment we can make”, said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.
The rest of our year was spent planning for the Global Partnership for Education Conference in Senegal, the event took place in February 2018 and was a landmark moment for global education financing.
All in all, 2017 was a great year for global education and setting the groundwork for a better future. As 2030 approaches Oshun Partnership’s work is helping us get closer to achieving the sustainable development goals for education, water and gender equality.