JUNE 2017

Filling the Gap: Investing in Global Education for a Brighter Future

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin

The arrival of June means children across the country are celebrating the end of another year of learning. But for the 263 million children and youth across the globe who are primary or secondary school age yet are unable to attend, there is no education to celebrate. Among these, 25 million, of which 60% are girls, have never even attended primary school.

Last month, we took action on education, especially for girls. We know that keeping all children in school is crucial for people’s health and for the economy. But according to a report by The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, we are in the midst of a global learning crisis.

If current trends continue, let’s look at what this will mean for people in low-income countries:

  • only one in three children will learn basic primary-level skills by 2030
  • only 8% of young people will be on track to gain basic secondary-level skills by 2030

This learning crisis is largely caused by a growing gap in funding for global education. Over the past 15 years, the share of official development assistance spent on education has fallen from 13 percent to 10 percent globally. Canada’s spending on education has been very low. Even at its highest, our contribution was only 3.6% of global spending for education. Now, that share has fallen by over one third.  This contribution does not reflect Canada’s values or resources. In 2014-15, Canada’s education spending was only 7.7 cents per dollar spent on official development assistance, and has now fallen to less than 7 cents. This trend must be reversed.

Quality education is a human right. It is also a key component of ending poverty by 2030, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goals. Funding education is one of the smartest investments we can make. Every $1 invested in an additional year of education sees a return of $10 in earnings and health benefits for people in low-income countries.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) seeks to realize those benefits by working with governments in low and middle-income countries to strengthen education systems across the globe. GPE is the only multilateral partnership and fund that works exclusively with countries in the greatest need of support.

Since it was founded in 2002, GPE has achieved exceptional results in their 60 partner countries:

· 64 million more children in primary school
· 10% more children completed primary school
· 15% higher primary completion rates for girls
· 12% higher completion rates for lower-secondary school

GPE will have a replenishment conference
in the next several months to fund its important work for the next three years (2018 to 2020). GPE’s vision is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote inclusive lifelong learning opportunities for all. In order to do this, GPE needs a total additional commitment of $3.1 billion (USD) from donor countries.

$3.1 billion (USD) in new investments from donor countries would allow GPE to support 89 partner countries in seeing:

· 19 million more children complete primary school
· 6.6 million more children complete lower-secondary school
· 1.7 million teachers trained
· 23,800 classrooms built
· 204 million textbooks distributed

Canada must be a leader in this. Civil society and GPE are working together to determine Canada’s fair share of this total investment. Canada’s pledge to GPE must reflect its position as a global leader and its ambition to reach the world’s most vulnerable people.

We must not continue to let the world’s poorest children fall behind. Let’s take action now.

As this school year comes to an end, we must work together to ensure that millions more children can access the benefits of education next year.

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