06/24/2014 04:02 pm ET Updated Dec 03, 2015

Let's Work Together to Get Every Child in School by the End of 2015

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Iraqi girls are facing a law that would consider them ready for marriage at nine years old, which could force them out of education for good.

South Sudanese girls are so discriminated against that, in a country of ten million people, there are only 400 14- and 15-year-old girls in school.

Three hundred thousand Syrian child refugees are exiled in Lebanon and want to go to school -- but no one has yet been willing to pay the $4 a week it would cost for them to be educated.

Two hundred girls were kidnapped in Nigeria and have now spent eight weeks in captivity -- just because they wanted to go to school.

Every week, 200,000 school-age girls are married off as child brides and excluded from their right to education. Every day, millions of school-age boys and girls are forced to work as child laborers when they should be at school.

Around the world, a civil rights struggle is underway as girls and boys demand a basic right that in the year 2014 should be automatic and guaranteed -- their right to education.

While the world promised that by the end of next year every single child would be at school, the total figure for children who are being deprived not just of an education but of the oxygen of opportunity was 57 million last year. A new up-to-date assessment will be given on Thursday by Irena Bukova, head of UNESCO. But today, these 57 million children are deprived of the most basic thing of all -- hope that they can plan a future for themselves.

We ask on behalf of the 57 million out-of-school children, when will they ever learn? And we ask of our leaders, when will they ever learn? Learn that education is the key that unlocks the eradication of poverty, the creation of jobs and the meeting of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for health.

On Thursday in Brussels, the world is tested on its commitment to basic education. From UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and EU Commissioner Andreas Pielbags, host of the replenishment conference, there is a universal demand that countries who can afford to sponsor the educational needs of the poorest children should do more. These children are worth more than $13 per year -- barely enough to buy a textbook -- which is the cumulative total of all education aid for sub-Saharan Africa.

The replenishment of the Global Partnership of Education that takes place in Brussels on Thursday is being led by two world-renowned women leaders -- Julia Gillard and Alice Albright. It is a vital element in the push towards meeting the United Nations Millennium Development goal that every child be at school by the end of 2015. The shortfall in educational investment to meet this goal is around 6 billion dollars a year. If we are to have a chance of getting close to that goal, then all countries should give generously.