During a private event at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, leadership of Education Above All (EAA), a global initiative of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, made a call for the world’s business and philanthropy leaders to accelerate the effort to provide and finance quality basic education for the world’s estimated 57 million out of school children.

With fewer than 700 days before the Millennium Development Goals deadline, EAA highlighted the long-term impact of investment in primary education on GDP as the imperative for immediate and sustained action.

Current funding for basic education in low income countries covers less than 10% of the amount required, leaving a funding gap of US$24 billion per year. To close the gap, EAA aims to link proven programmatic success with innovative funding mechanisms to open opportunities for new sources of funds – from philanthropists, official development assistance, investors, foundations and business.

Commenting on the need for new investment in education, Dr Abdullah Al Kubaisi, Special Envoy for EAA, said:

EAA has come to the World Economic Forum to call for new investment to support education. In the past the public and private sectors have stood up and made significant progress on issues of great social and economic importance, such as public health. We have today the same chance with primary education – to prevent lost opportunity and reduce poverty. Education can transform individual lives, and also economic outcomes for communities and nations.’

Founded in 2012, EAA is the umbrella for a number of international programmes, including Educate A Child (EAC), Al Fakhoora and Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) that protect, promote and facilitate access to education. EAA programmes work to ensure that all children in the developing world – particularly the 57 million who are currently out of school – will be able to realize their right to education. Founded in 2012, Educate A Child (EAC) aims to significantly reduce the estimated 57 million children worldwide who are denied their fundamental right to education. EAC projects reach countries that account for nearly 70% of all out of school children. Its focus is on replicating and scaling-up successful quality programmes, promoting innovative approaches and encouraging collaboration, to ensure the best outcomes for children and their communities.

To date, EAC has supported more than 2 million out of school children via 44 co-funded projects in 24 countries with a goal of reaching 10 million by the end of the 2015/2016 school year. CEO of EAA, Marcio Barbosa, said:

As the world emerges from the long recession, political and economic leaders are turning their attention to growth. Primary education provides an investment platform that pays dividends to societies well into the future. Today we are in the process of establishing a new fund for education; a mechanism that will bring investment from new funding sources to help us accelerate efforts to close the out of school children gap.’

EAA leadership highlighted the economic imperative for sustained action on education. Lack of primary education stands as a barrier to developing countries from an economic perspective as it impacts GDP. A study commissioned by Educate A Child indicates the dramatic impact primary education can have on economies. As a percentage of GDP, the economic cost of out of school children ranges from country to country: from 0.30% in India (the world’s tenth-largest economy at US$1.8 trillion) to 19.2% in Nigeria (a fast-developing economy of US$262 billion).

The event ended with an invitation for Davos leaders to join HH Sheikha Moza in Doha for a fundraising event in late April, where new financial commitments will be made to education.