New Year, New Opportunities: Education and Canada’s G7 Presidency

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

– Margaret Mead

Happy New Year! With the arrival of 2018, many people are busy making resolutions and taking steps to turn this year into the best one yet. At RESULTS Canada, we know that with the continued efforts of our passionate citizen advocates across the country we can do just that.

2018 is full of opportunity. This month marks the beginning of Canada’s year-long G7 presidency, meaning that it’s our turn to take a leadership role in shaping the dialogue and priorities of seven of the most advanced economies in the world. Keep an eye out for consultations and opportunities to contribute to that discussion in the coming months leading up to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec in June.

During its G7 presidency last year, Italy chose education as the theme for the Progress Report of the Accountability Working Group. This report, entitled “Investing in Education for Mutual Prosperity, Peace, and Development,” points out that investing in education will accelerate progress on a wide range of G7 priorities. Among other recommendations, the report encourages G7 countries to increase their support for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), just as we have been encouraging Canada to do all year. We must call on Canada to continue to champion support for education throughout its G7 presidency.

The first opportunity for Canada to show leadership on education this year is coming up quickly. GPE will be having its Replenishment Conference in Dakar, Senegal on February 2, 2018. GPE is the world’s largest multi-stakeholder partnership dedicated to supporting education systems in low- and middle-income countries. There are 263 million children and youth across the globe that currently don’t have access to education. Whether it’s because of conflict, lack of financial resources, gender-based discrimination, or many other reasons, these children are missing out on their basic right to education.

Canada needs to lead the G7 with a bold pledge: we’re calling on the government to commit $260 million over the next three years to the GPE—that’s less than $1 for each child that cannot go to school.

A fully funded Global Partnership for Education would allow their work to expand to nearly 30 new countries across the globe, helping hundreds of millions of children and youth access the extraordinary benefits of a quality education. Education builds the skills, knowledge, and confidence to help people thrive in the work force. In fact, research shows that each year of education increases adult earnings by 10 percent. We know from past action sheets that education also has the power to reduce inequalities, improve health outcomes, and build a more prosperous world.

A strong pledge to GPE will set the stage for Canada to be a leader in global education throughout its G7 presidency. This is a unique opportunity for our government to put its Feminist International Assistance Policy into practice by making girls’ education a priority.

But in order for Canada to maintain its leadership role on the global stage, we need new money in the budget for international assistance. Our Official Development Assistance (ODA) is what allows Canada to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting the world’s most vulnerable people. We know from last month’s action sheet that Canada has spent an increasingly low percentage of its gross national income on ODA over the past few decades. From 0.47% in 1985 to just 0.25% in 2017, it remains unacceptably low.

After hearing from experts and citizens across the country during the Pre-Budget Consultations, including from RESULTS staff and volunteers, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance recognized that Canada cannot keep making commitments from a stagnant ODA envelope. In its report to the House of Commons, the Finance Committee recommended that the government should “Increase its official development assistance with the goal of allocating 0.7% of gross national income to the International Assistance Envelope by 2030, with 3 year rolling targets. With its official development assistance, the government should target food security, improved nutrition, and inclusive and high-quality education, particularly for girls and young women.”

We must call on the government to put this recommendation into action. With increases to ODA in Budget 2018 and beyond, Canada will be on its way to having resources that match its global ambitions. There is no better time for Canada to increase its leadership potential on the world stage than during its G7 Presidency this year.

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