Dr. Liesbet Steer

“I was deeply moved by the culture and dedication of parents to give their children an education – often at very high personal cost”

Dr. Liesbet Steer is the Executive Director of the Education Commission, chaired by former UK Prime Minister and UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown. She oversees the Commission’s global work around 5 key education transformations identified by the Commission in its flagship report The Learning Generation, including learning models, the education workforce, service delivery, financing and cross-sectoral action. Under Liesbet’s leadership, the Commission has been at the forefront of new thinking in education financing calling for more effective and “progressive” domestic spending, innovative international and private financing (through the International Finance Facility for Education, the Education Outcomes Fund and Greater Share) and better coordination of external funding (including through her leadership of the Global Education Forum and Save Our Future).

What inspired you to advocate for education?

Working as an economist on economic development in South East Asia – and realizing education was often not prioritized as the foundation for all development.

What is one personal story that reflects the impact education has had on your life, or the life of someone you know?

My education brought me in contact with the rest of the world (first on a one year exchange as a Belgian student to the UK) and then as a researcher and PhD student in Vietnam. In Vietnam, I was deeply moved by the culture and dedication of parents to give their children an education – often at very high personal cost – recognizing this was the most important gift they could give their children to fulfill their potential.

What is the biggest challenge facing young learners now, and what can we do to address the crisis? 

Making education relevant for their future and adapting education systems to the demands of the labor market and society. Ensuring education is adapted to the child and young person in a way that recognizes the needs of the whole child and his/her learning needs. We have to rewire education for people and the planet!

All 17 Goals will be reviewed during the SDG Summit in 2023, the largest global moment since the launch of the 2030 Agenda eight years ago. What is your advice to education leaders and young people preparing for post-TES mobilization? 

We must ensure education becomes a bigger part of other people’s conversations and we are part of conversations outside education, in other sectors. The recommendations of the TES must be carried forward to the COP27, G20, World Economic Forum, WB/IMF meetings, etc.

Who is your superhero that you admire and why? 

Tintin – a courageous young journalist coming from my small country 🙂

Nelson Mandela – for his work on peace, equality and education

Liesbet on Twitter: @LiesbetSteer & @educommission