The Global Campaign for Education-US applauds the G7 Declaration on Girls’ Education: Recovering from COVID-19 and Unlocking Agenda 2030, which was released at the G7 Foreign and Development Ministerial meeting May 3-5, 2021, and USAID Administrator Samantha Power’s May 5, 2021, Intervention on Girls’ Education and Gender.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it unprecedented threats to education, with 1.6 billion children globally estimated to have been out of school during the height of the pandemic and 91% of the student population has had their education interrupted. With the impacts of COVID-19, girls globally are at heightened risk of experiencing forms of gender-based and sexual violence, teenage pregnancy, and early marriage. Experts project that 20 million girls globally would not return to school after the pandemic, unless urgent and swift action is taken to reverse this trend. Schooling acts as a powerful protective mechanism for children and girls that keeps them safe from harm and provides a space for learning that can propel children and youth to a brighter future.
The United States has consistently promoted education for all and must redouble progress on Sustainable Development Goal #4 to tackle quality of and access to learning from early childhood through adolescence. While bolstering existing investments, the U.S. must address exacerbating education inequities that disproportionately hinder girls, children with disabilities, and those from minority backgrounds. US leadership should scale funding and effective interventions in foreign assistance to build education systems back stronger.
Specifically, we urge US and G7 leaders to:
1. Commit robust financing to strengthen inclusive education systems, recognizing the importance of safe, equitable, quality education for all children and youth.
- Dedicate flexible, multi-year financing for education as a lifesaving intervention across the humanitarian-development continuum, including increased contributions to Education Cannot Wait, Global Partnership for Education, and U.S. bilateral funding providing more children in low-income countries, especially girls and children with disabilities, access to education.
- Define and measure progress towards attendance, safety, and learning outcomes, including disaggregation by gender, type of disability, refugee status, ethnicity, and race through inclusive education sector plans.
2. Within the communique, commit to investing in holistic, resilient, and innovative systems that mitigate learning loss and improve access to quality, inclusive education for children and youth, especially marginalized and at-risk groups, children with disabilities, girls, and children and youth living in crisis settings.
- Develop and fund remedial, accelerated, and distance learning programs, including for refugee and internally-displaced children, to get students safely back to learning and to school.
- Invest in solutions to build stronger education systems with the increased resilience needed to better respond to shocks.
- Strengthen cross-sectoral child development in partnership with education including water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, health, and child protection programs.
It has never been more urgent for words to translate into concrete actions. While GCE-US congratulates the Biden Administration on the release of the initial budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2022 with a 12 percent proposed increase in International Affairs funding, it is vital that the $63.5 billion amount be seen as a minimum benchmark.
Ahead of the upcoming G7 Summit scheduled for June 11-13, we call upon the US government to solidify its commitment to equitable, inclusive education for all, including girls’ education, children with disabilities, and education in crisis settings, with at least $1.1 billion for international basic education in FY2022, including support for bilateral U.S. programming, at least $150 million for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and at least $50 million for the Education Cannot Wait Fund.
Children with disabilities, who have historically been among those most likely to be left out of school, have been disproportionately left out from continued learning opportunities during the pandemic. The G7 and Global Education Summits have the potential to transform the lives of girls and children with disabilities – we are calling on world leaders to seize this opportunity with Sightsavers' open letter to G7 leaders to prioritize inclusive education.
It is especially important for the US government to pledge $1 billion over five years to the Global Partnership for Education, with the $150 million referenced above for FY2022 as the first year, ahead of the June 2021 G7 Summit and Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025, to be held in July 2021. Multi-year commitments will allow GPE to better allocate spending and plan programming to support long-term investments in public education systems, and address learning losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, including ensuring that 175 million children will learn and 140 million students will be reached with professionally trained teachers.
Education is not only a fundamental human right, but it is also a critical foundation needed for achieving all other sustainable development goals. The return on investment is too high to ignore. Education is the key that unlocks health, well-being, gender equality, and economic prosperity for the next generation of children, their communities, and the world.
The Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) is a broad-based coalition of national and community-based organizations, international organizations, teachers' unions, and faith-based groups, and advocates dedicated to ensuring universal quality education for all children and youth.