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Invest in girls’ education, invest in future

12 June 2014
Although every child has the right to education, 126 million children remain out of primary and lower secondary school around the world. Some 250 million who have the opportunity to go to school are however prevented from meaningful learning as education lacks quality. Are governments doing all they can to tackle this situation?

Children from across Africa will join together to ‘take over’ the African Union building in June to demand governments to increase their investment in education, marking the beginning of a #10DaystoAct initiative. Governments across the world are being called upon to deliver on their commitments to education and raise their domestic spending to 20 per cent* against the current 14.4 per cent.

Recognising the importance of education, the European Union stresses there is an urgent need to accelerate progress to get all children into school and further strengthen the role of education in the future framework, post-2015.

Affecting mostly girls in Africa

This reality affects mostly girls, and hits especially Africa. Africa has the highest rate of girls who have not completed primary education, or indeed have not had the opportunity for any education at all. At current rates the poorest girls in Sub-Saharan Africa will achieve universal primary completion only by 2086.

The recent abduction of school girls in Nigeria surprised many. However, this was only a tragic reminder of how children are stripped of their right to an education every day. In the words of Emily Laurie, Global Advocacy Manager for the Because I am a Girl Campaign this is not an isolated incident. “There are current 65 million girls who are out of primary and secondary school. This is not acceptable, we need more investment in education: now,” she says.

Guaranteed, safe and quality education could actually have greater impact than many think. As a matter of fact, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, according to the Education For All Global Monitoring Report.

What’s more, educated girls mean a better future.  As Plan International’s CEO Nigel Chapman stresses, “girls are more likely to reinvest their income back into the family, community and country, and more likely to understand their rights and be forces for change. When you invest in a girl you really do invest in the future”.

The EU, calling on the international community to ensure education for all

For its part, the European Commission (EC) is “strongly committed to supporting worldwide access to education as a preliminary condition for development”.  Currently, it is supporting education in around 48 countries and, despite pointing to certain improvements since 2004, the EC also acknowledges itself that when it comes to education we cannot be complacent.

On more than one occasion, EU Commissioner for Development  Andris Piebalgs has stressed that “education has the power to turn the course of human development from poverty to improved living standards  for all”. Following that motif, the EC is embracing its role as a strong partner of Global Partnership for Education, working to ensure that every child will be able, at least, to complete basic education, regardless of their circumstances.

This month, the European Union will host the Global Partnership for Education Second Replenishment Conference in Brussels, where they will call on the international community to commit to giving all boys and girls in the poorest countries access to school and learning.

It is hoped that these EU efforts, along with the ‘take over’ of the African Union will encourage governments to contribute to continued economic prosperity by supporting the educational needs of future generations.