3 Things I Learned About Education at the United Nations in New York

Can this once-in-a-generation event transform education systems?

Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness
Published in
13 min readNov 15, 2022


United Nations Transforming Education Summit 2022; UN Headquarters in New York (Source: Canva)

We’re in a global learning crisis that had worsened even before the pandemic.

In 2015, 53 per cent of all children in low- and middle-income countries suffered from learning poverty, unable to understand a simple written text by age 10.

In 2019, global learning poverty rose to 57 per cent.

For 2022, experts project 70 per cent of all 10-year-old children can’t understand a simple written text.

Learning Poverty Globally and by Region. (Source: The State of Global Learning Poverty by World Bank, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and others)

The reasons?

Manifold and often systemic — undertrained, undervalued, and underpaid teachers, access to education, an education financing gap, a lack of early childhood education, and poverty traps perpetuating existing disparities.

And last but not least the relatively recent realization that schooling doesn’t equal learning.

Even though more and more children attend school worldwide, many go there day after day, not understanding anything. Education systems leave a lot of children behind in learning as they progress in schooling.

So, do we really need to solve another crisis?

Yes, because education is the key.

Education and learning underpin almost all individual, social, environmental, and economic goals. If we solve the education and learning crisis, we solve many other prevalent problems, such as climate change, poverty, equity, and mental health.

So how can we solve the learning crisis and create education systems that enable all children to thrive in life?

In 2022, I explored this question from different angles — I interviewed brilliant people for my work with Big Change and Teach For All, among others. I gave a TED talk on learning, visited schools in Estonia, and attended education conferences in Paris, Salzburg, and New York.

This article summarizes what I’ve learned about changing education systems. You first…



Eva Keiffenheim
Age of Awareness

Learning enthusiast, TEDx speaker, and writer with +3M views | Elevate your love for learning with my free, weekly Learn Letter: http://bit.ly/learnletter