Commonwealth ministers commit to urgent actions to achieve education goals

30 May 2024

Commonwealth educational ministers come together to build a brighter future for Commonwealth youth.

Commonwealth education ministers recently reaffirmed their commitment to addressing inequality in learning opportunities, including gender and disability-related disparities, and adapting education to meet the demands of a rapidly advancing technological landscape. They did so at the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (22CCEM) meeting in London earlier this month.

The outcomes of the meeting will shape the policy agenda for the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), scheduled to take place in Samoa in October 2024. The meeting’s chair, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Education, Hon Ezekiel Machogu, emphasised in his opening remarks the need for “urgent and accelerated Commonwealth-wide action to facilitate the recovery of education systems and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4”.

Working with UNESCO

During the meeting, they heard UNESCO data that highlighted concerning trends. One staggering statistic was that there has been an increase of 6 million children out-of-school since 2021, bringing the global total to 250 million young people. In 2021, aid to education decreased by 7% from 2020 levels, the lowest aid budgets since 2015. These troubling statistics point to a need to engage our young people and to ensure there funding to meet their needs as well as future generations.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, said in her opening address:

“Education is the essential catalyst for positive change across all parts of our societies. With CHOGM just around the corner, CCEM sends a clear signal that education serves as a crucial tool for understanding the complexities of the world and equipping individuals with the skills needed to navigate an uncertain future.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that this opportunity is accessible to all, particularly the most vulnerable members of society. By removing barriers to education by prioritising innovative financing solutions and equipping learners with essential digital skills, we can create a more inclusive and equitable education system for future generations.”

Equity In Education

Concluding the meeting, the Secretary-General highlighted the work that the Secretariat is doing to promote equity in education across the Commonwealth member states. During the conference, it was also announced that Guyana will be hosting the next CCEM.

While at the headquarters of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the government ministers and senior officials affirmed the need to harness artificial intelligence (AI) to provide inclusive education opportunities for the citizens of the 56 member states in the 22CCEM outcome statement[CW1] . Ministers committed to ensuring inclusive AI development to bridge digital divide in underserved populations and leverage transformative technology.

They also pledged to secure both domestic and international financing to help to bridge existing gaps in educational access and quality. Furthermore, ministers advocated for a significant boost in climate finance investment in the education sector, with the aim of tripling the current allocation of US$70 million from the Building the Climate Resilience of Children and Communities (BRACE) initiative.


Encouraging access to skills for the future we have created.

Before 22CCCEM commenced, senior government officials gathered to explore the Commonwealth initiatives focused on education. They also looked at recommendations made during the last CCEM in 2022 and reported on progress made in implementing the recommendations that ministers had agreed to then.

2024 also marks the Commonwealth Year of Youth, which is dedicated to youth-led action for sustainable and inclusive development. Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, gave a keynote address to the delegates, emphasising the need for “compassion” and enabling a responsive environment.

“The ambition of the conference, ‘Driving Resilience, Equity, and Skills for an Inclusive Future’, could not be a better response to the problems we face. Driving resilience is critical, our young people face a barrage of new threats.

As educationalists we need to respond. We have to share successful approaches between education ministries. Digital literacy, transformative technologies and education for sustainable development are all important discussions at this conference. In short, we have to learn how to teach our young people to have the skills to cope with the world we have created for them.”

Commonwealth Secretary General shares a moment with Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi
Pictured: Commonwealth Secretary General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC (left) shares a moment with Nobel Peace Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi (right)

Association of Commonwealth Universities Vice Chancellor Summit

Prior to the 22CCEM, the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) hosted the ACU Vice-Chancellor Summit.  

At the event, the ACU's Secretary General and Chief Executive, Professor Colin Riordan CBE, emphasised the need to leverage the organisation’s “intellectual convening power to establish major collaborative research networks aligned with the goals outlined in the Commonwealth Charter.”

Prof Colin Riordan, Secretary General of the ACU, delivering a speech at the ACU Vice-Chancellor Summit

The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General also delivered a keynote speech advocating for member states to provide increased financial support to educational institutions. This, she said, would unlock pathways to improved social mobility and economic prosperity among citizens. 

The ACU has over 400 member universities in more than 40 countries across the Commonwealth. The summit featured a series of strategic policy discussions about higher education with university vice-chancellors and government ministers. Key themes included finance and funding; nurturing future-ready graduates; fostering excellence and navigating the digital frontier.

Read the 22CCEM outcome statement here: 


Read the 22CCEM Chair statement with annex here: