Plan International is calling on world leaders to give girls the same chances as boys by pledging more funding to education at the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal on 1-2 February.
The organisation will urge governments of low and middle income countries to commit either a fifth of their overall budget, or 6% of their GDP, to education, at least half of which should go towards providing 12 years of basic education for every child.
We are also urging governments of richer nations to make financial pledges to ensure the Global Partnership for Education meets its target of raising $3.1 billion over the 3 years from 2018 to 2020.
Millions missing out on school
If no action is taken, over 400 million girls will not secure secondary-level skills by 2030.
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said, “Despite enormous progress in improving girls’ access to education in the last 20 years, the state of girls’ education today is still woeful in many countries.
education is the difference between feeling powerless and being powerful agents of change.
“Although more girls than ever now access and complete primary school, secondary school completion is denied to too many girls around the world. Less than 1 in 3 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and fewer than half in South Asia are enrolled in secondary school.”
The biggest escalation in spending must come from national governments, but international donors will also need to increase their annual spending.
“For millions of girls and young women, a fully funded education is the difference between feeling powerless and being powerful agents of change,” said Ms Albrectsen.
“Financing education will equip girls with the skills, knowledge and competencies they need to be able to claim and exercise broader socio-economic, cultural and political rights and empower them to be leaders and decision-makers.”
Keeping girls in school is essential
Countries which allocate low amounts to education often have high rates of child marriage and teenage pregnancy. In Uganda, which allocates just 3% of GDP to education, 4 in 10 girls are wed before they turn 18.
Martha Nantongo, 22, a student at Makerere University in Uganda, has been participating in Plan International’s global campaign #WeAreTheNext to call on governments to increase their investment in girls’ education.
“Education has given me a voice,” she said. “Educating girls promotes gender equality and is an investment that leads to socio-economic development because it equips them with the knowledge and skills they need to excel.”
Girls’ needs must be met
Additional funding for education is not enough by itself however. Yona Nestel, Senior Education Policy Advisor at Plan International, said, “Several countries in Africa already allocate funds to education at or above the recommended percentage, but girls’ needs in those countries are not being met.
“In many contexts, poor quality education and learning environments perpetuate sexism and harmful social norms, such as the idea that girls have less social or economic potential than boys.
“We must ensure that as well as providing funding, governments are targeting their resources towards strategies that get girls into school and provide an empowering learning experience for them.”
The GPE conference, which is only held every 4 years, will be co-hosted this year by French President Emmanuel Macron and Senegalese President Macky Sall.