Education Diplomacy: Why Now?

Since 2009, the Association for Childhood Education International has been developing the concept of education diplomacy.


At a time when the world is becoming increasingly globalized and interdependent, education offers a platform for ensuring that the next generation is well-versed in topics critical to the human future, such as sustainable development, peace, economic and workforce development, and human rights.

Education diplomacy is increasingly important in a world faced with the following compelling statistics:

  • In developing, low-income countries, every additional year of education can increase a person's future income by an average of 10 percent.
  • As of 2012, 31 million primary-school pupils worldwide dropped out of school. An additional 32 million repeated a grade.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 11.07 million children leave school before completing their primary education. In South and West Asia, that number reaches 13.54 million.
  • Nearly 250 million primary-school age children do not have basic reading and mathematics skills, despite the fact that some of these children have attended school for several years.
  • While girls are less likely to begin school, boys are more likely to repeat grades or drop out altogether.
  • Approximately 50 percent of the 57 million out-of-school children worldwide live in conflict and emergency-affected areas.
  • Children who are born to educated mothers are less likely to be stunted or malnourished. Each additional year of maternal education also reduces the child mortality rate by 2 percent.
  • 53 percent of the world's out-of-school children are girls and two-thirds of the illiterate people in the world are women.
  • The percentage of global aid directed to basic education - largely targeting children of primary school age - dropped sharply from 44 percent in 2011 to 40 percent in 2012.

Diplomacy movements offer an effective way to share information and communicate ideas sensitively and appropriately across various cultures and nations. In such a rapidly changing globalized world, the future of humanity itself could be at risk if we do not engage intentionally in efforts that promote sensitive communication and collaboration. Both education and diplomacy are needed in order to achieve a more stable world that offers opportunities for the healthy development of individuals and societies at large. Bringing education and diplomacy together to recognize the new concept of education diplomacy give us a dynamic and powerful tool for positively shaping our world.

This concept of applying the skills of diplomacy to a variety of disciplines is one that has been explored widely. We know there are other iterations of this, but one we thought you might be interested in exploring is global health diplomacy, as it is inextricably linked to global education. You can learn more about that initiative here.

Global Initiatives

Below is a list of some of the global initiatives that are currently influencing education policy in countries around the world. Familiarity with these initiatives and an understanding of their influence at national and local levels can help contextualize the current need for the practice of education diplomacy.

Education for All is a global movement that promotes lifelong learning through quality education for children, youth, and adults.

Learning for All is the goal defined by the World Bank’s Education Strategy to invest early, invest smartly, and invest for all.

The Learning Metrics Task Force was co-convened by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Center for Universal Education (CUE) at the Brookings Institution to catalyze a shift in the global conversation on education from a focus on access to a focus on access plus learning.

Millions Learning is a new project launched by the CUE at the Brookings Institution, which seeks to understand how effective learning can be achieved at scale by building upon existing, cross-disciplinary literature and research initiatives.

The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals that form a blueprint to ensure all the needs of the world’s poorest citizens are met. The deadline for the goals is 2015.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda is being led by a United Nations High-Level panel and informed through an inclusive approach involving civil society, the private sector, academia, and research institutions from all regions.

The Global Partnership for Education is a multilateral partnership devoted to getting all children into school for a quality education.