Over one billion children in the world’s poorest countries will see a transformation in their educational opportunities thanks to £430 million of new UK aid announced by the Prime Minister today (11 Jun).

Next month Global Education Summit will take place in London to raise further funding

This afternoon, in the first session of the UK’s G7 Summit, leaders discussed how to build back better from the coronavirus pandemic in a way that creates opportunities for everyone.

Ensuring all girls get a quality education is central to that goal.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented global education crisis, with 1.6 billion children around the world out of school at its height.

Girls have been hardest hit as the pandemic compounded the obstacles to education girls already face, including poverty, gender-based violence and child marriage.

The support announced by the UK today will go to the Global Partnership for Education, the largest fund dedicated to education in developing countries.

Since it was established in 2002 GPE has contributed to the largest expansion of primary and lower secondary schooling in history, getting 160 million more children into school. In countries where GPE works the number of girls enrolling in school has increased by 65 per cent.

Next month the UK and Kenya will co-host the Global Education Summit in London which aims to help raise $5 billion to support the work of the GPE over the next five years. The funding boost pledged by the UK and other G7 countries will go a considerable way towards achieving this goal.

Getting girls into school is one of the easiest ways to lift countries out of poverty and help them rebound from the coronavirus crisis – a child whose mother can read is twice as likely to go to school themselves and 50% more likely to be immunised. With just one additional school year, a woman’s earnings can increase by a fifth.

Supporting girls’ education is therefore a cornerstone of the UK’s G7 Presidency. Today G7 leaders reaffirmed their commitment to targets set at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in May to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in the next five years. The work of the GPE will be instrumental in helping achieve those targets.

Today the Prime Minister called on fellow leaders to make their own major commitments to achieve these targets, as well as the ambition to ensure every girl in the world receives 12 years of quality education.

Italy and the European Commission have already made pledges of €25 million and €700 million respectively to GPE and further announcements on funding are expected from G7 partners in the coming days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

The best way we can lift countries out of poverty and lead a global recovery is by investing in education and particularly girls’ education.

It is a source of international shame that every day around the world children bursting with potential are denied the chance to become titans of industry, scientific pioneers or leaders in any field, purely because they are female, their parents’ income or the place they were born.

I am calling on other world leaders, including those here at the G7, to also donate and put us firmly on a path to get more girls into the classroom, address the terrible setback to global education caused by coronavirus and help the world build back better.

The £430m of new aid funding announced today will go towards GPE’s work in 90 lower-income countries that are home to 1.1 billion children over the next five years. In time GPE aim to train 2.2 million more teachers, build 78,000 new classrooms and buy 512 million textbooks.

This funding pledge for the Global Partnership for Education is separate to the £400m of UK aid which will be spent this year on bilateral efforts to increase girls’ access to education.

 

Sector Reaction 

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:    

“The Prime Minister’s announcement is a welcome start but falls desperately short of the case for £600m presented by civil society and parliamentarians from all parties. 

“The Prime Minister sought out the leadership of this replenishment – during an unprecedented education emergency – with a manifesto commitment to champion girls’ right to learn. Since then, the Prime Minister has decimated the aid budget, taken an axe to education spending, and shattered promises to the very girls he promised to champion. This is the unavoidable context of today’s announcement.   

“As co-host of the replenishment, the Prime Minister’s primary duty is to hit the $5bn target. Achieving this is an integral step on the journey to ensuring every child realises their right to learn. But the Prime Minister’s ODA cuts have hamstrung the UK’s GPE pledge, and this short-sighted ambition now risks cascading downstream.   

“If other key donors follow the Prime Minister’s lead, the $5bn target will be missed – damaging the UK’s integrity on global education and compromising millions of children’s futures.   

“To deliver a successful replenishment, realise his manifesto commitments, and persuade others to back his girls’ education plan, the Prime Minister must restore ODA to 0.7% of GNI, reverse the cuts to education and top-up today’s pledge ahead of July’s summit.” 

Preet Kaur Gill MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, said:

“The pandemic has worsened children and young’s people access to education, with women and girls disproportionality impacted. This Conservative government has already axed numerous education programmes, as well as slashing funding to the UN family planning agency.

“As co-hosts of the G7 and the upcoming Global Partnership for Education summit, the Conservative government had a major opportunity to demonstrate UK leadership in this area. Yet this commitment falls well short of the amount needed to support the delivery of quality, equitable learning for the world’s most marginalised children.

If the Government is going to achieve its manifesto commitment of 12 years of quality education for all girls, it needs to increase its pledge and immediately reverse the cuts to the aid budget'

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