Happy New Year!
2018 was a year of significant milestones for education in general and for GPE too. It was promising to see more governments and world leaders step up their support toward achieving SDG 4 to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” before, during, and after the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar in February 2018.
Although there were many things to celebrate last year, with over 260 million children across the world still not in school, we must do more. As we start 2019, let us share some of our new year’s resolutions:
More children in school
Children who don’t attend school or drop out are often the most vulnerable and marginalized: girls because of their gender or social norms, children with a disability and children living in remote areas.
These children are our priority.
GPE has helped build or renovated schools in remote areas in many partner countries, including in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Nicaragua and Uganda, to give children living far away from urban centers a chance at education.
We support education for refugee children, who by no fault of their own find themselves in chaos and away from their normal routines. Last year, the GPE Board approved urgent grants to support children caught in conflict in Afghanistan, Myanmar, and South Sudan, as well as Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
As for marginalized girls, our gender equality strategy applies to all of the support we provide to partner countries, from the planning stage to implementation. With the UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI), we have organized 3 workshops gathering 18 countries to train partners on ensuring that all girls and boys have a fair chance at education.
More trained teachers
Teachers are central to the learning process and play a critical role in improving learning outcomes. During the past year, all active GPE grants supported teacher training activities in partner countries. Here are some of the highlights:
- More than 5,800 primary school teachers in Nigeria and over 1,500 early-years teachers in Cambodia received training,
- Teacher training colleges in Mauritania have become more selective regarding their prospective trainees with a new entrance exam, with a view to improve the quality of teaching,
- Saint Lucia strengthened teacher training by conducting a major regional teacher education conference.
This year, we hope to see more partner countries invest in quality teaching and we will continue to support them.
More inclusive education
In most developing countries, children with disabilities are excluded from school or learning activities. Inclusive education means education is accessible to all children, no matter their individual circumstances. It applies in particular to children with disabilities.
A grant of US$5.2 million to Zanzibar ensures that children with disabilities can attend Kisiwandui Primary School. With the right school environment, teacher training, and learning materials, inclusive education can turn into reality.
With a stocktake report on how disability is addressed in partner countries, GPE also provided the basis for better knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. It will help partners do more for children with disabilities over the next months.
More education data
Education data is crucial for governments to know how their education system is performing, to evaluate results and make the right decisions and allocate resources. However, too many developing countries still lack adequate systems to collect and analyze education data.
To tackle this issue, GPE launched a data solutions roundtable in early 2018 to leverage local, private and development partners’ expertise to improve the availability and use of accurate and timely education data. The three key areas of work are:
- better tools for education management
- better data communication and visualization tools
- integration of data across different systems to produce holistic school-level information.
We are excited to see the roundtable progress this year and the solutions they propose to make education data more available, timely, and useful to partner countries.
More funding for education
Of course, none of these achievements will be possible without more commitments from all partners in the education sphere to increase funding for education. In Dakar last year, developing countries committed US$110 billion of their budgets to education, and donors announced more than US$2.3 billion for the GPE fund for 2018-2020. This was a fantastic outcome, but we know that more will be needed for the longer term.
The fact that aid to education increased by 13% between 2015 and 2016 after six years of decline was uplifting and we hope the trend will strengthen over the coming years.
Working in partnership is key
All of the results mentioned in this post would not have been possible without the support and hard work of all GPE partners. Similarly, we won’t achieve our new year’s resolutions without them.
So we also take this opportunity to thank all GPE partners around the world: only through partnerships we can attain quality education for all.