Declines in International Aid Could Hurt Children
November 8, 2011 Rights of the Child News
Funding for education has declined in recent years, affecting some of the world's poorest regions. Civil society groups have called on global donors to honour commitments to "education for all" at this week's pledging conference in Copenhagen. Today, Copenhagen, Denmark, played host to the two-day Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Replenishment Conference.
With shortfalls in education spending affecting a number of countries, international non-governmental organizations have called on donor countries and the World Bank to increase funds, staving off a potential education crisis.
To date, upwards of 19 million children have been able to go to school for the first time, thanks to support from the GPE. Still, there are 67 million out-of-school youth who are robbed of their right to education, most of whom are girls.
But, the possibility of ensuring "education for all" has been jeopardized by recent shortfalls in aid financing by international donors. Burkina Faso, for example, has seen its education aid slashed in half, losing funding from European donors, Reuters reports. Zambia, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Mozambique have also lost considerable education funding.
The high-level conference was attended by a number of high-profile members of the international community, including Anthony Lake, current Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the former executive director, Carol Bellamy. Ms. Bellamy is the present Chair of the GPE. From the government sector, 30 ministers from developing and donor countries will also attend. They will be joined by members of civil society and private sector foundations.
Education is not only an end in itself. Investments in schooling can help end poverty, promote democracy and build lasting peace. It is a remarkable tool for engineering future development, as global poverty could be reduced by 12 per cent if all students in low-income countries could read. Girls who spend an extra year at school increase their own lifetime incomes by between 10 and 20 per cent, making investments in the girl-child a wise decision for global development practitioners.
The GPE is expected to call for $2.5 million in funding over the next three years with the aim of enrolling 25 million more children in school, while increasing primary school enrolment rates by 7.5 per cent, getting 50 million new textbooks into classrooms and training 600,000 new teachers. It is hoped that the conference will inject new life into education programming worldwide, filling the funding gap of $8 million.
Plan International has announced today that they would invest an additional $55 million in educational projects to teach eight million girls in the developing world. This funding comes in addition to the 2011 budget of $113 for 56 million pupils in the Global South.The European Union is expected to pledge €31.8 million between 2011 and 2013.
The GPE was formerly known as the Education for All - Fast Track Initiative (EFA FTI), formed in 2002. The name was changed to the GPE to signify its permanence and the fact that it is a true partnership and major financier of universal primary education. Since its inception, the initiative has rapidly expanded from only seven partner countries to 46 partner countries receiving $2.1 billion in educational aid. More than 30 bilateral, regional, and international organizations, development banks, private sector and civil society groups are also participating.
According to the Global Campaign for Education's Fund the Future report, there are ten key principles for improving the quantitative and qualitative indicators for education, including improving the effectiveness of foreign aid. The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) was launched in 1999 as a civil society movement to end the global education crisis and hold governments accountable to promises they've made.