The last few weeks have seen a huge amount of action on the issue of education around the world. The most international of these, Global Action Week (GAW), run by civil society organisations involved with the Global Campaign for Education, took place from 2nd to 8th May 2011 on the theme of Women and Girls’ Education. We’ve already blogged about UNESCO’s new education initiative discussed the launch of the global partnership for girls’ and women’s education, stressing the importance of educating women as a cornerstone to development and growth. And the last few weeks have also seen the launch of a major new report on education from Gordon Brown and a new UK-US partnership for global development. Exciting times!
Every year, millions of people across the world participate in campaigning activities during the Global Action Week, an initiative of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), supported by education campaigns in over 100 countries. Since its inception, Global Action Week participation has grown from 2 million people in 2003 to over 15 million in 2010. Global Action Week focuses on bringing world leaders’ attention to renew and fulfil their commitment on Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals. With just four years left and the world struggling with economic, climate and food crises, Global Action Week 2011 was more crucial than ever before to ensure that world leaders while addressing the crises do not turn their backs on providing for Education for All by 2015.
The main activity of Global Action Week, which linked local groups and school work with national and global events revolved around “story telling” this year through the theme The Big Story. Women and Girls shared their personal stories about the impact an education or the lack of it has had on their lives. Men and boys were also encouraged to tell stories relating to experiences of women’s education and why all women and girls must have the right to a quality education. During the week, campaigners and coalitions were encouraged to engage with policy makers and politicians, to address problems that hamper girls from going to school.
As part of the activities, 4480 schools across the UK are taking part during May and June in the UK coalition’s initiative, send my sister to school. Students at these schools wrote stories about themselves in school and how children their age all over the world were deprived of education. These were sent to their MPs, urging them to take action to improve the lives of the people the world over through the provision of education.
Outcomes from Global Action Week have been outstanding around the world. As just a few examples:
- In the Philippines, there are plans to prepare a work plan to push literacy programs for indigenous women;
- In Niger the government has announced that 25 percent of the national budget will go to education;
- In Angola the government has approved a national strategy for the promotion and development of women in education; and
- In Somaliland, the government announced a policy for free basic education.
This is such a clear indication of campaigners having a direct impact on their governments’ policies, and we at RESULTS are proud that we also took action alongside our partners in the developing world, calling on the UK Government to improve its policies in support of education for girls in the developing world. If you haven’t taken this action yet, there’s still time to!
In addition to Global Action Week, Gordon Brown’s policy report on Education for All Education For All; Beating Poverty, Unlocking Prosperity was launched on 20th May. The report calls on world leaders to tackle the education emergency in the world’s poorest countries that denies millions their right to education. Gordon Brown warns that failure to act will increase inequality, weaken economic growth and slow progress towards reducing poverty. He urges the creation of a global fund for education, with an annual budget of $3 – 4 bn to achieve the target of universal primary education by 2015. Speaking to the Guardian, Mr. Brown said, ‘We are now less than five years from the target date – and one primary school generation from a broken promise. There are currently 67 million primary-school-age children and an even greater number of adolescents who are not in school’. Later this year the Education for All Fast Track Initiative will launch a replenishment, designed to ensure that it can live up to its potential as a global fund for education, and RESULTS will be supporting this initiative.
Finally, during US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the UK, the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama released a joint statement detailing a new US-UK Partnership for Global Development. The statement discusses economic growth, conflict and security, aid effectiveness, global health, climate change and issues pertaining to girls’ and women. Specifically, the fact sheet highlights the US-UK joint pledge to get more than five million girls into primary and secondary school by 2015.
All in all, it’s been a great few weeks for education. While much more remains to be done, we are encouraged that so many world leaders have spoken out on this issue, and we hope (and will campaign for) this to be translated into more action during the FTI replenishment later this year.