Action must follow bold rhetoric on girls' education funding
2 February 2018
World leaders meeting at the Global Partnership for Education financing conference made commitments backing girls education, but action must now follow the pledges if girls are to truly thrive.
Pledges from donor governments will ensure more girls have access to a quality education.
More than $2 billion pledged by governments to fund education in low income countries is a welcome start. Now donors’ commitments to focus on girls’ education must quickly be turned into action.
Government leaders announced the pledges at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) financing conference in Dakar.
A total of US$2.3 billion was pledged by donor governments for the years 2018-2020. France, Canada, UAE and Denmark, among others, all indicated that funds should specifically target girls’ education. The pledges fell short of the $3.1 billion target but were a substantial increase on the $1.3 billion pledged for the previous three years.
Transforming the future of girls’ education
Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, CEO of Plan International, said: “The pledges announced today, if fulfilled, could have a transformative impact on girls’ education. For millions of girls and young women, a fully funded education is the difference between being powerless and achieving their potential.”
“Despite enormous progress in improving education systems in the last 20 years, over 130 million girls are out of school worldwide. Less than one in three girls in Sub-Saharan Africa and fewer than half in South Asia are enrolled in secondary school. And many girls that are in school fail to benefit from an education, finding themselves subjected to systems that are sexist and don’t equip them with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive.
“Some major donors could do more and we call on them to do so.”
In addition to making financing commitments, world leaders at the conference emphasised the role that education plays in promoting gender equality, and empowering girls to reach their potential.
Summit co-host French President Emmanuel Macron told the conference: “We need to put a special emphasis on girls’ education - everywhere that people want to promote terrorism, obscurantism and push back democracy, everywhere that our values are under threat, that’s where you find girls are taken out of school.”
Senegal President Macky Sall said: “Girls’ education is vital for family, social and national well-being.”
We applaud the 53 low and middle income countries which committed to invest US$110 billion in education, up from $80 billion in the preceding three years.
However, few acknowledged the need to use the funding to ensure education promotes gender equality by empowering girls and dismantling negative stereotypes that hold girls back.
Plan International supported 4 youth delegates from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Benin and Senegal to lobby government leaders attending the conference.
Responding to the commitments made, Abigail, 22, of Ghana, said: “US$2.3 billion is good. But I’m disappointed my own government wasn’t more specific about increasing its own spending.”
Yona Nestel, Senior Education Policy Advisor at Plan International, called on governments to take additional steps to address the barriers standing between girls and a quality education.
“Some commitments have been supportive of girls’ education, recognising the powerful role education plays in promoting gender equality. The financial pledges made today are a great first step. But now we need action – a global movement to demand girls’ education.”
“As well as scaling up funding, governments must support strategies and policy reforms that get girls into school and provide an empowering learning experience for them.
“We know, for example, that girls’ education outcomes are vastly improved by access to menstrual hygiene products, and policies that support young mothers to continue their education. Governments, supported by civil society and communities, must get behind these and other proven interventions, so that all girls can access their right to a quality education.”
GPE is a pooled fund that directs investment into developing public education provision in the world’s poorest countries. GPE had aimed to raise $3.1 billion at the conference in Dakar to fund their work for the year 2018-2021; the amount pledged represents 74% of this target.