“When I was younger I got involved with youth organisations. Through this work I became convinced that the education of girls is paramount to ensuring development. And I wouldn’t have had any of these opportunities without my own schooling.”
Call on world leaders to increase education funding This message from Aissata, 21, from Mali, underscores what we all know: education matters and leads to changes necessary to disrupt inequality and oppression.
Education is the fundamental right of every child and is key to achieving many other important goals. Without education, what hope do we have of ending poverty, tackling climate change, or achieving gender equality? Of advancing peace and security, innovating technologies, and overcoming discrimination? Education provides children with the skills and knowledge to change the world.
In less than 3 months world leaders will meet at the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal where they will make financial commitments for education over the next 4 years. Time is running out for them to commit not only to increased financing for education, but also to target girls’ education and the promotion of gender equality in and through school
BETTER QUALITY EDUCATION
The Global Goals have set the bar high for education. Previously, the aim was to ensure every child could access primary education. Now we have committed to ensuring every child completes pre-primary, primary and secondary education, and has access to technical, vocational and tertiary education.
The Global Goals also demand children receive a quality education – with more teachers and increased emphasis on gender equality, human rights and sustainability in learning outcomes. Learning environments should be upgraded as well, to ensure they are safe, inclusive, and gender sensitive.
There are no limits to what girls can achieve – and education is instrumental in teaching them that.
This ambition is no less than every child deserves. But the reality remains a far cry from this. There are still 263 million children out of school worldwide, of whom over half are girls. Girls are more likely than boys to never to go to school, and are at increased risk of drop-out due to child marriage, early pregnancy and violence in and around schools. If schools are to be accessible, safe, and relevant for all children, we must ensure they are so for those most vulnerable, and those most likely to be excluded.
When girls are at school, they should learn the skills they will need to become leaders in their lives, communities, and beyond. For Plan International, the starting point is advocating for gender equality through all facets of education, including curricula, teaching and policies. There are no limits to what girls can achieve – and education is instrumental in teaching them that.
However, the power education has to further gender equality and encourage girls to lead cannot be realised without significant financial investments.
FINANCING GLOBAL EDUCATION
The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity last year calculated that funding for education must rise from $1.2 trillion today to $3 trillion in 2030. This financing must come from a number of sources.
Firstly, all governments, including those in developing countries, need to put more money into their national education systems – ensuring at least 20% of the national budget, or 6% of GDP, goes towards education. Increased financing must go to those most likely to be out of school, and towards basic education. Financing should also be gender-responsive, with an emphasis on inclusive education.
Secondly, donor governments need to increase the percentage of their overseas development assistance earmarked for education, to 15% of the budget. Donor governments also need to ensure that development assistance prioritises basic education and targets equity measures.
INCREASED FUNDING IS WITHIN REACH
The good news is that we have a real opportunity to achieve many of these outcomes. The Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference taking place in February 2018 is a critical opportunity for states, NGOs and private partners to step up and make significant financial commitments for education for the next 4 years.
Now is the time to put pressure on governments to ensure their commitments are substantial – and we have less than 3 months to ensure our voices are heard.
Plan International is part of a global education coalition alongside several partner organisations that has launched a set of 10 asks for developing country governments (PDF) around education financing. We are also running national campaigns in Uganda, Senegal, Pakistan and the Philippines to call on those governments to increase their investment in girls’ education, and address the barriers standing in between girls and a quality education.
We ask a lot of our education systems – and rightly so. But you get out what you put in. So we need all partners to make the highest commitment to financing education so every child can access a free, inclusive, quality education, to become the leaders of tomorrow.