Skip to main content
Students cross their arms to demonstrate they are listening carefully to their teacher at Al Hakim El Kassar Primary School in Tunis, Tunisia, September 16, 2015. Schools have reopened, with around 2 million pupils heading back to classrooms after a three-month summer break. Nearly three years after Taliban gunmen shot Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist last week urged world leaders gathered in New York to help millions more children go to school. World Teachers' Day falls on 5 October, a Unesco initiative highlighting the work of educators struggling to teach children amid intimidation in Pakistan, conflict in Syria or poverty in Vietnam. Even so, there have been some improvements: the number of children not attending primary school has plummeted to an estimated 57 million worldwide in 2015, the U.N. says, down from 100 million 15 years ago. Reuters photographers have documented learning around the world, from well-resourced schools to pupils crammed into corridors in the Philippines, on boats in Brazil or in crowded classrooms in Burundi.  REUTERS/Anis MiliPICTURE 27 OF 47 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "SCHOOLS AROUND THE WORLD"SEARCH "EDUCATORS SCHOOLS" FOR ALL IMAGES - GF10000226454
Education Plus Development

WATCH: How big is the learning crisis — and can we do anything about it?

Jenny Perlman Robinson and Molly Curtiss

“Education is the civil rights struggle — the human rights struggle — of our generation: quality education for all. It’s the freedom fight that we’ve got to win.”

In a featured TED Talk released today, Amel Karboul, Secretary General of the Maghreb Economic Forum, Commissioner for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission), and former Minister of Tourism for Tunisia, underscores the true urgency of the global learning crisis. Karboul begins with her own education story; how Tunisia’s first president made the bold decision to invest 20 percent of the national budget in education, expanding access to high quality, free education for millions of young Tunisians, including her. Without similar bold leadership to accelerate progress, Karboul argues, half of the world’s children and youth will be out of school or not learning by 2030.

In this video, Karboul makes a clear case that countries looking to address this learning crisis can and should learn from the “best in the class,” observing and drawing on successes taking place in countries making the fastest education improvements. She highlights the example of Media Center in Brazil, a case study also featured in the Brookings Millions Learning report, which demonstrates how an innovative distance learning model has provided high-quality secondary schooling to 300,000 students living in remote communities in the Amazon since 2007. Karboul acknowledges that identifying what is working is easier than implementing these lessons. In light of this, she highlights how the Education Commission is helping to train country leaders in a new methodology called the “delivery approach” that brings together multi-stakeholders in an education planning and follow up process.

Hoping to contribute to these implementation-related challenges as well, the Center for Universal Education’s Millions Learning Real-time Scaling Labs are taking a similar iterative, adaptive learning approach of collectively addressing technical and political-related challenges in scaling quality education initiatives.

Get daily updates from Brookings