$5bn fund to tackle global education crisis worsened by Covid-19
October 14, 2020
THE Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has announced a $5 billion funding target for the next five years to tackle the “global education crisis” that has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the peak of school closures earlier in the year, 1.3 billion children – including 650 million girls – were out of education.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said this week: “Even before the pandemic, nine in 10 school children in low income countries were unable to read proficiently by the age of 10. “Since its creation in 2002 GPE has already contributed to getting 160 million more children in school and doubling girls’ enrolment in the countries they work in…”
The UK and Kenya will co-host a summit next year in the UK to lead global action to educate every child and raise funds for the GPE.
It will take place during the UK’s presidency of the G7.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during the announcement of the summit that the rise in the number of children out of school as a result of Covid-19 was “a toll of wasted potential and missed opportunity that is a tragedy not just for those children, but for each and every one of us”.
“Education unlocks doors to opportunity and prosperity.
“It offers girls a ticket out of poverty and exploitation to chart their own futures,” Mr Johnson added.
“That’s why I am delighted that the UK will co-host the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in 2021.
“I urge the global community to come together, dig deep and ensure we fund their vital work to give every child the chance at an education,” Mr Johnson said.
The Kenyan government has made education a central part of its strategy to become a newly industrialised nation by 2030.
A GPE partner since 2005, Kenya has made impressive gains, achieving universal primary education and breaking down gender barriers to get as many girls as boys enrolling in school.
Mr Kenyatta said: “An educated population is a country’s most valuable resource.
“GPE has been a key partner in helping us invest in innovative solutions to get all our children, especially girls, learning.”
Experts have warned that many children will never return to school, particularly as countries experience an economic contraction in the wake of the pandemic.
The GPE funding will help ensure that 175 million children can learn in 87 lower-income countries.
In the longer term, this investment could add $164 billion to economies in the developing world, lift 18 million people out of poverty, and protect two million girls from early marriage, the experts say.
They point out that missing out on education does long-term damage to individuals and communities, with girls particularly at risk.
They say the benefits of schooling are transformative and multi-generational.
For instance, a child whose mother can read is 50 per cent more likely to live past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school.
With just one additional school year, a woman’s earnings can increase by a fifth.
Mr Kenyatta said: “We must use the opportunity of GPE’s financing conference to make ambitious pledges to invest in quality education so our children and young people have the skills and knowledge they need to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.”
The former Prime Minister of Australia and GPE Board Chair, Julia Gillard, said: “An investment in GPE is an investment in the world’s most powerful asset – its children and youth.
“By refinancing GPE, leaders can send a clear message that the world is serious about creating a brighter future for all girls and boys through education.”