Event Summary: Education as the Great Equalizer
Event summary by Anissa Molloy, Florida International University Psychology Student and GCE-US Inclusive Education Advocacy and Research Fellow
On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Oxfam International and the Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) co-hosted an event on Education as the Great Equalizer, discussing the privatization of education and how it has become a leading driver of inequality, gender equality through education, inequality and education and its interlinked problems and solutions, and the presentation of Oxfam’s new report, “The Power of Education to Fight Inequality,” during the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Thank you to all who participated, spoke and presented, including: Antonia Wulff-Education International, Sarah French-Global Initiative for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights, Madeleine Zúñiga-Global Campaign for Education and Campaña Peruana por el Derecho a la Educación, Zakaria Sulemana-Oxfam in Ghana, Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen-CEO, Plan International, Nora Fyles-Head of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, Winnie Byanyima-Executive Director, Oxfam International, Manos Antoninis-Director, Global Education Monitoring Report, Deng Deng Hoc Yai-Minister of Education, Science and Technology, South Sudan, and Susan Hopgood-President of Education International, Kira Boe, Global Education Lead-Oxfam International, and Jennifer Rigg-Executive Director, GCE-US. We are especially grateful to Kira Boe, Ida Minnea Kreutzman, Stine Bang, Rachel Serebrenik, Anna Martin, Molly Joyce and all who made this event possible.
The event began with the presentation of the Oxfam report, “The Power of Education to Fight Inequality.” In this report comparisons on public education in different countries were conducted to show, “the power of public education to tackle growing inequality and bring us closer together. To achieve this, education must be both of good quality and equitable; it should be free, universal, adequately funded, with well-supported teachers, and accountable public oversight. Fairer taxation of the wealthiest can help pay for it.” The report concludes with equitable recommendations set forth, on how to deliver universal fee-free education.
The first discussion panel was on the Privatization of Education-A Driver of Inequality. Topics included educational costs and funding situations in Perú, the urgency of fair and quality public education in Ghana, inequality of education in Australia, and ways to support public education systems in areas of crisis.
The second discussion panel, High-level Fireside Chat: Gender Equality Through Education, included speakers Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen and Nora Fyles, with conversation and questions from young women around the world. Key points included the need to address sexual harassment in school settings, gender-transformative education, and female as well as male presence in classrooms.
The last session, High-level Panel: Inequality and Education-Interlinked Problems and Solutions, brought together leaders and heads of organizations fighting for education and equality. The panelists shared their personal and professional inspiration, including memorable teachers. Alongside sharing their stories, the panelists witnessed barriers to equality in education for all children, including having to search for clean water for their families, taking care of their homes and siblings, crisis and emergencies, migration, economic need, and abuse. In closing, Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said, “For me education must empower true change with skills to understand and advise the world…for justice for themselves.”
Thank you to the panelists, participants, advocates, and champions who joined this event in person and online, making “Education as the Great Equalizer” a successful, informative, and motivational event.