Governments make record-setting pledges of $26 billion to fund education
Expectations were blown out of the water today in Brussels as historic financial commitments were made toward funding education in the world’s poorest countries that will help provide a quality education for millions of children.
At what could have been viewed as a melting pot of the education policy world, politics, civil society, and international organisations came together in the heart of Belgium June 25th and 26th for the second Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Replenishment Conference in hopes of hitting what now seems like a very modest US $3.5 billion post-2015 funding goal.
“This exceptional result is a vote of confidence in the power of education to lift the lives of millions of children, and is a tribute to far-sighted leadership in our partner countries - donors and developing country partners alike,” said Julia Gillard, GPE Board Chair and former Australian prime minister. “No other organization has a partnership structure that has leveraged such substantial funds from developing countries.”
A vast majority of the record-high dollar amount came from 27 developing countries’ promise to increase spending on education by $26 billion over the next three years, a 25 percent jump from current levels. Another $2.1 billion came from the likes of European Union, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Education International gives teachers a starring role
“Teachers are absolutely the key to quality education,” was the message Education International (EI) General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen made loud and clear, erasing any doubts about the importance of teachers in creating quality education as Education International (EI) also made its pledge to the GPE.
In his pledge for EI, van Leeuwen made an annual commitment of 2 million euros from 2015 to 2018 to assist education unions worldwide, with a special emphasis on those in the GPE countries in order to:
· Establish social and professional dialogues with their public authorities;
· Raise professional standards and put a stop to de-professionalization trends;
· Target the barriers to access, such as child labour, child marriage, school fees, and the professional teacher shortage;
· Establish partnerships with civil society, international organisations, and the private sector to support the EFA targets, but expose those creating new barriers or feeding de-professionalization.
In addition, Education International also pledged to:
· Improve gender equality in education, including the achievement of gender parity in primary and lower secondary school;
· Improve learning outcomes, including increasing grade 3 literacy rates;
· Strengthen support for education development in fragile states, and in jurisdictions lagging behind in reaching the EFA targets;
· And as a member of the Emergency Coalition for Global Education Action, provide additional support to teachers and their organisations in Haiti, Lebanon, Pakistan and Nigeria.
Earlier in the day, as leaders filed into the ‘pledging room’ to confirm their support to the GPE, side panel discussions threw the spotlight on all the key education issues. During the debate “Empowering Teachers,” van Leeuwen wasted little pointing out where to start.
“First, we need to listen to them, consult with them, and engage with them on reforms,” he said of bringing teachers into the decision-making process. “When you talk to teachers, you talk to the teaching profession.”
In light of the billions of dollars dedicated to education for the near future, the work of EI will continue to ensure that education finds its place as one of the United Nations Post-2015 Development Goals, which will determine the global development priorities until 2030.