How can we Fund the Future by ensuring every child in the world can complete a quality basic education? That was the question discussed at a recent All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All event.
Parliamentarians, government representatives, NGOs, academics and private sector representatives gathered to discuss how UK and world leaders can tackle the crisis in funding education for all and ensure that every child can fulfil their right to a quality education. The speakers at the event were: H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia; Alice Albright, Chief Executive of the Global Partnership for Education; Baroness Northover, House of Lords Spokesperson for UK Department for International Development; and Aaron Oxley, Executive Director, RESULTS UK.
In 2000, the global community committed that no country seriously dedicated to achieving education for all should be held back due to a lack of resources. Since then, great progress has been made. Yet 57 million children around the world remain out of primary school. 250 million children are in school but failing to learn the basics. Just when funding for education is most urgently needed, it is instead in crisis. While many developing countries have managed to increase their domestic education budgets, external aid for education is declining at an alarming rate.
Later this year, the Global Partnership for Education – the world’s only multilateral partnership devoted to getting all children into school for a quality education – will hold a major replenishment conference. This could be a turning point in the fight for education for all. The conference will convene world leaders from governments, civil society, international organizations, students, teachers, foundations, and the private sector to call for renewed commitments to education financing. As we approach this crucial opportunity, the event discussed how the UK can build on its leading role in global education, and work with all partners to achieve education for all.
Mark Williams MP opened the event on behalf of the APPG, and highlighted his own experience as a teacher and in visiting schools in Nigeria and Tanzania. He said that greater financing of education was vital, because education was fundamental to economic growth, the strengthening of democracies and the defence of individual freedoms.
His Excellency Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia talked about Ethiopia's impressive progress in expanding access to education, and the challenges they are now seeking to overcome in terms of quality, with the support of development partners like the Global Partnership for Education and the UK's DFID.
Alice Albright, Chief Executive of the Global Partnership for Education praised the Deputy Prime Minister for the Ethiopian Government's commitment to financing its own education system. She also praised the UK Government for its leadership as the largest donor to basic education. Ms Albright highlighted the key opportunity of the GPE's replenishment this year, and said that with a successful replenishment, the Global Partnership could support 29 million children into school for a good quality education, 23 million of them in fragile and conflict-affected states.
Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, praised the UK Government for its proud commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid, and for its particular leadership in aid to education. Mr Oxley said the Global Partnership for Education replenishment was a crucial opportunity to accelerate progress towards education for all, and this was why RESULTS were working so hard with partners including ActionAid, Plan, War Child, and Save the Children, as well as many other members of the Global Campaign for Education UK, to support a strong UK commitment to the GPE this summer. Mr Oxley highlighted RESULTS’ new report ‘Greater Impact Through Partnership: 8 reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever’.
Baroness Northover commended the Ethiopian Government for their progress, and the Global Partnership for Education for their vital work. She said that the need for education in developing countries was huge, and it was therefore all the more worrying that aid to education globally was declining. Baroness Northover said that she was proud that the UK is the largest bilateral donor to education, and that DFID is changing millions of lives. She urged all partners to capitalise on the Global Partnership for Education’s replenishment to accelerate progress towards education for all.