JUNE 2014

Securing Education for Millions of the World’s Children


“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” ― Malala Yousafzai Around the world right now, 57 million primary school aged children are not in school, and many more children who are in school are failing to acquire basic reading, writing and numeracy skills. We’ve made astounding progress since 1999, when 108 million primary school aged children were out of school; however, the poorest, most marginalized and hardest to reach children continue to be left behind. As such, only 56% of countries are likely to achieve universal primary education by 2015. At this rate, the poorest girls in sub-Saharan Africa are not track to complete lower secondary school until the 22nd century.[1. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002256/225660e.pdf]

Why care about global education?

Education radically changes the course of a child’s life, and the benefits extend far beyond one girl or boy. Countries with higher primary schooling rates and a smaller gap between rates of boys’ and girls’ school attendance also tend to enjoy greater democracy and stability. Indeed, children and parents alike in many conflict-affected and/or fragile states know the security risks of going to school, but they recognize the importance of education. It is estimated that 50% of out-of-school children live in areas of conflict.[2. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002216/221668E.pdf] Every day, millions of boys and girls like Malala Yousafzai are courageous enough to seek an education. And, as the world reels from the tragic kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria, everyone asks “what can we do?” While there is no easy solution, education in fragile states promotes peace-building and conflict mitigation, as well as fosters economic growth. The Global Partnership for Education provides increased support to education systems in fragile and conflict-affected states by, for example, helping to coordinate community-based schooling systems and recruiting teachers.

The Global Partnership for Education, a successful model:

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has already helped support quality education for 22 million children in poor and conflict-affected countries. Thanks to the GPE’s model, countries like Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are now implementing their first national education plans. In Afghanistan, decades of war have left the country with a large illiterate population, no national curriculum, a lack of education delivery mechanisms, and millions of children out of school. The GPE is helping rebuild Afghanistan through its Education Plan by bringing stakeholders together to establish a coordinated approach to delivering education services. The Minister for Education of Afghanistan, Farooq Wardak, writes: “My personal memories of having to break off medical studies and go into exile after the Soviets invaded my homeland, Afghanistan, have left me acutely aware of how education is needed to provide a sense of continuity and a space for children to be safe and learn…We have made good progress. Two decades of conflict nearly destroyed our educational resources. When the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, there were fewer than one million children in school, with no girls. Now there are 11.5 million students enrolled, 42% of them girls, in 17,700 schools. The number of teachers has increased tenfold, to 220,000, and 42% of them are women. In 2011, Afghanistan joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), one of our most important partners in getting education on the international global agenda while also helping us locally. We are grateful for the US$ 55.7 million the Global Partnership for Education has since made available for our education programs.”[3. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/International+donors+must+back+school/9843229/story.html] The GPE’s June pledging conference gives Canada, and other donors, the opportunity to prioritize education for all children who are either risking their lives for educational opportunities, or are without access to educational opportunities.

Seizing this monumental opportunity

The GPE Pledging Conference is coming up on June 26th, and could not have come at a more critical time for global education. “A good education” ranked as the world’s #1 priority for the post-2015 development agenda, and according to UNESCO, education is currently underfunded globally by US$26 billion a year.[4. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002256/225654e.pdf p.3] Donors like Canada are being called upon to pledge generously and fulfill the GPE’s replenishment target of US$3.5 billion for the 2015-2018 period, and help reduce the substantial gap in global education funding. The GPE estimates that investing US$3.5 billion will leverage an additional US$16 billion by partner developing countries’ domestic education expenditures. Canada’s current commitment to the GPE is approximately $60 million over four years (2011-2014). We are thus asking Canada to double its current commitment to $120 million over the next four years (2015-2018).
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