Jo Bourne’s career has been guided by a passion to enable children – especially children living in the poorest countries in the world - to reach their full potential through access to good quality education. Initially training as a primary school teacher, Ms. Bourne worked in a Chinese teacher training college as a volunteer with Voluntary Service Overseas, and has taught primary age children in the UK and in China. After completing an MA in Education and International Development, she joined the UK Department for International Development. Overseas postings allowed her to work on education programmes in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda (with the European Commission) and Rwanda. Much of her work in these countries concentrated on working with national governments to develop, implement and monitor ambitious education strategies, whilst working simultaneously with key development partners to jointly finance education strategies – and strengthen accountability for results. Ms. Bourne also held several positions at DFID’s London Headquarters, playing a leading role in shaping the organization’s education policy, and strengthening technical capacity.
Ms. Bourne became UNICEF’s Associate Director for Education in February 2013. She has worked with UNICEF’s extensive global network to put equity and learning at the heart of UNICEF’s education agenda, with particular emphasis on early learning, girls’ education, education for children with disabilities, improving learning outcomes, education in emergencies and strengthening education systems. She sits on the boards of the Global Partnership for Education, and the International Institute for Educational Planning. She was one of the partners instrumental in developing Education Cannot Wait: a fund for education in emergencies, launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.