Education shouldn’t be a privilege of the rich

Since I live in a high income country, I was fortunate enough to get my Masters degree. I also have a strong family connection to education, with my grandfather as the college trustee and my mother as the first woman in her ward to pursue post-secondary education. That is why education is extremely important in my life.

Whether or not we have an age-old school history, we sure have all heard stories about the importance of education. How literacy not only enables us to understand concepts, have a conversation, and be able to work, but it also gives us dignity.

However, 258 million children and teenagers in low-income countries were out of school prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and even more are now being forced out of school. Disruptions in education have resulted in the loss of essential services such as nutritious meals, psychosocial support and health care, as well as an increase in early marriage, violence, abuse and exploitation, especially of girls. As a result, fewer than two in three girls in low-income countries complete elementary school and only 33 percent complete lower secondary education.

Because of the pandemic, most children in Canada have switched to distance learning. Personally, I spent my last semester studying online from home. However, children in low-income countries do not have access to the tools necessary to participate in online learning. What is driving this unequal access to education around the world? Why is education still a privilege of the rich when it is a human right?

I recently joined Results Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to building the political will to end extreme poverty, as a member of the Etobicoke group. We advocate that the Canadian government invest $ 500 million over five years in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which would enable GPE to break down barriers to learning. On the ground, we encourage Toronto residents to raise their voices on social media and speak to their MPs to seek support for GPE.

GPE is a global fund dedicated to promoting the education of up to 335 million children in low-income countries, especially girls, children with disabilities and children living in poverty or crisis. From July 28-29, the GPE is hosting a replenishment summit to raise $ 5 billion for 2021-25 to transform education systems in up to 90 countries. A fully funded GPE will reach 140 million students with professionally trained teachers, get 88 million more children into schools, lift 18 million people out of poverty and prevent two million girls from marrying early.

As a founding member of the GPE, Canada established its commitment to quality education. In 2002, Canada’s investment in GPE helped enroll 160 million children in school.

In addition, during its 2018 G7 Presidency in Charlevoix, Québec, Canada brought together world leaders and partners to support quality education for girls and women, with a focus on those in crisis and conflict countries Life.

For Canada to remain a leader in equitable education, the GPE must make a commitment to provide uninterrupted, high quality learning opportunities for children during and after the pandemic.

Urvashi Rathod is a global health professional with expertise in policy and data analysis, project management, research synthesis, and knowledge translation. Urvashi is currently affiliated with Results Canada and the University Health Network. You can find more information about her work at