5 reasons for $5 billion: Interview with Laura Giannecchini and Helen Dabu

GPE asks Laura Giannecchini and Helen Dabu 5 questions on the power of education. GPE's financing campaign seeks to raise at least $5 billion over five years to transform education for up to 1 billion children in 90 countries and territories.

May 20, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
5 minutes read
5 reasons for $5 billion: Interview with Laura Giannecchini and Helen Dabu

Helen Dabu is the Secretary-General of the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE).

Laura Giannecchini is the Institutional Development Coordinator, Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE).

Both are former members of the GPE Board of Directors, representing Civil Society Organizations in GPE partner countries.

1. The overarching theme for this year’s Global Action Week for Education (GAWE) was education financing. What is the role of regional and national coalitions, such as ASPBAE and CLADE, in securing increased public financing for education?

Helen Dabu: ASPBAE and CLADE, together with GCE and other regional and national education campaign coalitions, play a critical role engaging governments, especially from developing countries, to protect and progressively increase education budgets – this is a collective call we made with GCE and GPE on the occasion of GAWE 2021, especially in light of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic to education financing.

As CSOs involved in regional and national level education policy and financing processes, we support transparent and accountable education systems that will contribute in the realization of the right to education and the implementation of SDG4/Education 2030 Agenda.

Laura Giannecchini: By adopting the Education 2030 Agenda, governments agreed to reach the international benchmark of 20% of the national budget and 6% of GDP for education.

One of the main ways to increase the education budget is by adopting tax justice mechanisms. So, national coalitions are also campaigning and advocating for the adoption of progressive taxation - such as in Argentina and Bolivia, which approved the taxation of wealthy individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Regional coalitions are fostering this kind of cross-regional learning, as well as influencing regional spaces and other governments to follow their peers.

2. What will the global community lose if education financing is left behind in the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery?

Helen Dabu: Leaving education and its financing out of pandemic responses and recovery will be devastating to countries and will result in deep, sweeping, and long-lasting inequalities. We have always asserted that financing education will enable early and long-term recovery from the pandemic.

Building people and societal resilience in any crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, means financing stronger public education systems.

Laura Giannecchini: Education is a human right that enables the realization of other rights. Governments, as guarantors of this right, must do their utmost to fulfill it, even in adverse situations.

Guaranteeing adequate education financing, in addition to being a legal, ethical and moral commitment, means: avoiding the exacerbation of the already unacceptable educational and social inequalities; accelerating the post-pandemic economic recovery; guaranteeing the improvement of health and living conditions of the current and next generations; and having people better prepared for future crises.

3. Revenues and tax bases in the Asia-Pacific region remain low, and few countries implement formula-based targeting for equity. How has COVID-19 exacerbated this situation, including longstanding inequalities in girls’ education and digital access for children and youth?

Helen Dabu: Children, youth, and adults from marginalized and excluded groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. This further exposed equity, inclusion and gender issues in education with the poor, those in remote and rural areas, children with disabilities, out of school children and youth, marginalized adult learners, women and girls, refugees and those in fragile contexts were left with little to no means of accessing education and learning especially when education delivery was shifted online.

In Asia-Pacific alone, about 1.88 billion people or nearly half of the population lack access to the internet. Tax systems in the Asia Pacific region need to progressively transform to generate revenues that will finance public education systems that are inclusive, gender transformative, resilient and sustainable.

4. CLADE strongly advocates for inclusive education systems that meet the needs of all children. In your view, what is the most impactful action governments can take to make education systems more inclusive?

Laura Giannecchini: The education systems in Latin America and the Caribbean are very unequal and may not have fully integrated and reflected the knowledge and experiences of many historically marginalized groups in the region.

Inclusive education must respond to the different needs and realities of everyone and each student. It is an education that recognizes the richness of diversity and promotes an intercultural dialogue with an intersectoral and intersectional approach.

To ensure inclusive education, it is essential that governments dialogue with the different actors in the educational community, listening to their voices, expectations, and needs. Governments need to implement an education system that educates citizens, is committed to transforming societies, and addresses social and environmental injustices.

5. What do you remember most about school? Were there moments or teachers that had a particularly big impact on you?

Helen Dabu: Having experienced poverty in a rural community in the Philippines, school was a place for hope, freedom, and liberation for me.

I will always be grateful to my teachers from basic to higher education who went above and beyond their call of duty to nurture my capacities and strengths to overcome life challenges and be able to contribute to society. The generosity of my teachers and the sacrifices of my parents have inspired me to pursue development work and a life of service.

Laura Giannecchini: This question came to me two days after the death of one of the most important teachers when I was a teenager. I cannot avoid mentioning the importance of this teacher that made an impact not only on me, but on generations of students, with her remarkable classes on philosophy and history.

She transformed her classes into a space for critical thinking and for exercising democracy. Her lessons and provocative questions about the meaning of life, political participation and the importance of education continue to be extremely needed and inspire my daily struggle for an emancipatory education.

Her classes were transformative education that I wish for all people to experience.

Read other interviews from this series.

Helen Dabu and Laura Giannecchini raise their hands to support GPE financing campaign.
Helen Dabu and Laura Giannecchini raise their hands to support GPE financing campaign.

Related blogs



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.