London, United Kingdom -- On July 28 and 29, 2021, government, civil society, philanthropic, and business leaders gathered virtually and in person in support of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) at the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025 in London, United Kingdom. They pledged to fund education for children and youth around the world. The event was co-hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, with a focus on addressing the significant strains put on education access for all due to the COVID-19 pandemic. UNESCO estimates that 91% of all school-aged children and youth — 1.6 billion learners — have experienced disruptions to their education from the pandemic, and 800 million are still impacted by school closures. According to GPE, donors pledged $4 billion overall, and developing country partner governments committed $192 billion.
At the Summit, the United States committed to $305 million over 3 years as a complement to the nearly $1 billion annual bilateral funding for global basic and higher education. United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power said, “Let’s make sure that children across the world have the access to quality education that they need to dream limitless dreams, and that the world never misses out on a generation of talent and potential.” This commitment is a down payment on the way to ensure the limitless dreams that education can potentially offer all children around the world.
Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director of Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US), said, “Thank you to all policymakers, partners and advocates for your leadership on global education and pledges made today. These vital contributions will begin to address the 1.6 billion learners around the world who experienced disruption to their education due to the pandemic, including those that did not have access to education before the pandemic began. This especially includes children and youth with disabilities, girls, and LGBTQ learners, as USAID Administrator Power emphasized today. It is critical that Congress fund international basic education, the Global Partnership for Education, and the Education Cannot Wait Fund for Children in Emergencies at the highest possible levels for the 2022 fiscal year and beyond.”
Ahead of the Global Education Summit, advocates signed petitions, contacted their members of Congress, wrote letters to the editor, and took remarkable action in support of robust funding for global education and GPE, showing wide, bipartisan support across the United States. Civil society organizations urged support with a diverse array of 55 NGOs calling on the US government to finance the Global Partnership for Education.
“In the middle of an unprecedented global education crisis during COVID-19, this shortfall is unconscionable,” said Joanne Carter, Global Campaign for Education-US Board Member and Executive Director of RESULTS and RESULTS Educational Fund. “When millions of the world’s kids may never return to school due to the pandemic, the Biden administration missed the chance to show new global leadership on education. Fortunately, bipartisan congressional commitment to the Global Partnership for Education remains strong. It is now up to Congress to help ensure the COVID-19 education crisis does not turn into a permanent catastrophe for an entire generation. Quality education is the right of every child.”
Smita Baruah, Associate Vice President of Government Relations, Save the Children US, stated, “With 11 million girls at risk of never again returning to school following disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic, robust funding for international basic education has never been more important. Strong U.S. financing for the Global Partnership for Education is critical to help all children, especially girls, have a chance at a better future. We are thankful for Congressional support for education programs and will continue to work with bipartisan Members of Congress to ensure the final FY22 State-Foreign Operations bill robustly funds international basic education, including GPE.”
Sarah Swinehart, Senior Director of Communications, North America, ONE Campaign, said, “Faced with a global pandemic that has pushed billions of children out of school, a cut to global education funding is extremely disappointing and will hinder the educational dreams and futures of countless children. In order to help today’s children become tomorrow’s doctors, educators, engineers, and farmers, we must ensure all children have the educational tools they need to unlock their full potential. It’s imperative that the bipartisan Members of Congress who have wisely championed full funding for GPE continue to support this vital program.”
David Thomson, Executive Director of Strategy and Collaboration for Plan International, stated in response to the Global Education Summit, “COVID-19 has created the biggest education emergency in our lifetime, and gender inequalities will only worsen as the climate crisis continues, leaving more girls at risk of falling behind. We urgently need funding that will address these inequalities, ensuring that every girl has the chance to learn, lead and thrive. There has never been a greater need to address the education crisis and invest in education for the most vulnerable. Unless world leaders step up, there is a real risk that decades of progress made on girls’ rights and education will be lost.”
Dom Haslam, Director of Policy at SightSavers, stated, "While there were some promising commitments to disability from countries including Tanzania and Malawi, the lack of specific commitments from others shows that disability inclusion is still being sidelined. Donor governments must step up and increase their funding further to ensure inclusive, quality education is available and accessible to everyone – including children with disabilities. Investing in inclusive education doesn’t just benefit children with disabilities, it makes education stronger for everyone. World leaders need to fulfil the promises they made in the SDGs and show ambition in building back better to make sure that no child is left behind.”
This global effort to fund education at the Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025 gives us the chance to address ongoing education challenges and build back better from COVID-19-related education losses. Global leadership and increased funding are essential to building a society where education equity is truly supported as a human right and progress can be made to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4.
We are grateful to everyone involved in supporting quality, inclusive education for all. Please join us in advocating for a world where every child achieves the human right to education, which is essential to building a stronger, more egalitarian, economically stable, and healthier world. To make this important vision a reality, we look forward to working closely with the U.S. government and partners to increase support for the Global Partnership for Education, Education Cannot Wait, and U.S. bilateral efforts on global education through 2025 and beyond.
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The Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US) is a broad-based coalition of over 80 organizational members dedicated to ensuring universal quality education for all children and youth.