Education is in crisis around the world. Since 1990 huge progress has been made to get millions more children into school, but in recent years this has stalled. If we go on with business as usual there will actually be more children out of school in 2015 than there are today.
RESULTS is today at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) replenishment event in Copenhagen. This is the best opportunity we have had for years to reinvigorate our efforts to make sure all children can go to school and get a quality education that teaches them the skills they need to succeed in life. Donor Governments, Developing Nation Governments, civil society and the private sector are all here (along with some very cute Danish children and a yurt!) to make pledges towards this goal. So will we get the leadership that we need?
It’s early in the day and I will be blogging throughout as news comes out, but so far things look positive. Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, who couldn’t be here himself (he’s just had heart surgery so we will forgive him!) delivered a fantastic opening message. He challenged everyone present to make sure we become the first generation ever to ensure all children have access to education. He is leading by example: Australia has put education absolutely at the heart of its aid programme, and there are big hopes for the Australian pledge which is due to be announced very shortly.
The UK is also expected to deliver a very good pledge to the GPE although Minister Stephen O’Brien will not be speaking until near the end of the day. The UK is stepping up bilateral funding to education over the next three years in addition. But less good news is coming from other countries – particularly several major donors to education including the Netherlands and Denmark pulling out of bilateral funding. Burkina Faso’s Minister for Education has already described the devastating impact that this is having on her country, where the gap between available and needed funds has ballooned this year despite the Government’s evident commitment. Canada has also disappointed civil society advocates with a pledge of just $45 million to the GPE (RESULTS Canada and the Canadian Global Campaign for Education were calling for $125 million).
While we may not see pledges from all participants that reflect the immense importance of education as the foundation of development, by the end of the day we will be millions of children nearer to our goal. We should celebrate, while keeping in mind how much more there is to do, and redoubling our work to strengthen global support for education.
I’ll be blogging in a moment from a civil society session on the new ‘Fund the Future‘ report, which calls on donors to increase their funding of basic education to 10% of their aid budgets. This would provide sufficient funding for a million more professional teachers, the kind of major change that we need to see today.