Education Funding - A Global Priority
Education Funding Must Be a Global Priority
Education is a fundamental basic human right. No child, youth or adult should ever be deprived of their human right to access free quality education. While this rings true, and many policies around the world support this notion, millions of children are still deprived of their right to education. Vulnerable, marginalized communities and those negatively impacted by conflicts the least likely to attend or complete their full 12 years of schooling.
The United States is a country where policymakers, advocates, and the public have long been concerned with inequalities associated with the lack of education funding at home and around the world. Supported by state legislatures and local advocates, the US continues to advocate for reforms to improve education funding for disadvantaged people wherever they may be. In March, over 127 bipartisan Members of Congress signed this letter championing US funding and support for international education programs around the world.
Earlier this year, the Global Campaign for Education – US (GCE-US) commended Congress for sustaining funding for international education in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2019. Congress funded International Basic Education at a minimum of $800 million and multilateral partnerships that support education at a minimum of $90 million, both of which are critical to the United States’ continued leadership role in efforts to improve education opportunities for all around the world.
The financing of free, public, inclusive education is integral to the right to education and is one of the central obligations of governments. GCE-US calls on the US government to invest in education globally by allocating $800 million to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) basic education bilateral programming, $125 million for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and at least $25 million for the Education Cannot Wait Fund from the US State Department and USAID budgets in the FY2020 budget. US partnerships with developing countries build stronger education systems and drastically decrease the number of out of school children around the world.
Today, one in four of the world’s school-aged children live in countries affected by a crisis. Of these children, 75 million are in danger of missing out on their fundamental right to education, the life-saving intervention for children during times of conflict. Access to quality education helps create a sustainable future where children and families are equipped to rebuild their communities. Without education, children are more vulnerable to the pull of extremist groups, at greater risk to infectious and deadly diseases, and more likely to become targets for forced labor, trafficking, and child marriage. Since 2010, only two percent of all humanitarian funding has been spent on education. This global trend, perpetuated by political interferences must be monitored and brought to an immediate halt, both for the greater good of humanity and the ethical duty to protect children.
Thanks to the leadership of USAID, the US has tripled the number of students reached to 27.7 million per year since 2011. USAID has also increased access for 2.4 million children who were previously out-of-school due to conflict and crisis.
GCE-US applauds the US government's recognition of the critical need to mobilize resources for education in crisis settings, and the initial $21 million commitment in 2016 to the new Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies. Collaborative efforts enforce our belief that no child’s right to education must ever be disrupted by conflict, crisis or disaster.
Worldwide, international organizations and networks are elevating collective commitments to implement and monitor the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goal 4 focused on education, while ensuring the timely delivery of free, quality and inclusive public education for all, as set out in the 2030 Agenda. Education is central to the realization of all the Sustainable Development Goals. Civil society defends and promotes education as a fundamental human right especially those from marginalized backgrounds.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) plays a leading role in the provision of education in the lowest-income countries. In GPE partner countries, 72 million more children were in primary school in 2015 compared to 2002. US investments in GPE help develop sustainable national education systems led by developing country partners. As GPE continues to show progress to ensure an additional 25 million children in school, sustained US support in the FY2020 budget is critical.
Conclusion - It is not too late
Continued bipartisan commitment to this issue positions the United States as a leader in global progress towards quality education for all. By allocating $800 million to basic education, $125 million for the Global Partnership for Education, and at least $25 million for the Education Cannot Wait Fund in the FY 2020 State and Foreign Operations Bill, Congress can ensure millions more children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. There is a moral imperative to ensure that funding strengthens public systems and fosters the human right to education for all. The power of good quality, inclusive education is clear – brighter futures, empowered communities and citizens, as well as increased economic growth for individuals and countries.
The United States plays a leadership role in the vital effort to achieve universal quality education. If all students in low-income countries left school with reading, numeracy and citizenship skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. Education for girls is particularly effective; when 10 percent more adolescent girls attend school, a country’s GDP increases by an average of 3 percent.
Fully funding global education programs is a smart use of US resources. Education increases security and stability, spurs economic growth, and provides proven results across development sectors. Education is the backbone of human capital to all nations.
By Ronnate Asirwatham, Senior Policy Advisor, and Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director, Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US)
GCE-US is a broad-based coalition of national and community-based organizations, international NGOs, teacher unions, faith-based groups, and advocates dedicated to ensuring universal quality education for all children and youth.