5 reasons for $5+ billion: Interview with Maria Flachsbarth

In this new series, GPE asks changemakers five questions on the power of education. GPE's upcoming financing campaign will seek to raise at least $5 billion to transform education for up to 1 billion children in 87 countries.

December 02, 2020 by GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
5 REASONS For $5+ billion: Maria Flachsbarth

Dr. Maria Flachsbarth is the Parliamentary State Secretary in Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

1. How does Germany engage in the field of education in international development cooperation?

Education is a human right and key to human development. Therefore, we promote quality education for all learners – worldwide and at all stages of learning. We place special emphasis on the principle of “leave no one behind”, which is why we focus on girls’ education and education in the context of crises and emergencies.

Over recent years, we have already more than doubled our commitments to education; our contributions have risen from around EUR 480 million in 2014 to around EUR 1 billion in 2019. We especially value the effectiveness of multilateral approaches in education, like the Global Partnership for Education.

2. On the International Day of the Girl on October 11, you raised your hand for girls’ education. Why is girls’ education and GPE so important in your opinion?

First of all, education empowers. It enables girls and women to develop their personalities and skills and to live a self-determined life. This has particularly positive effects on the development of society as a whole, for example, in terms of health and demographic and economic development. Educated mothers are, for example, better able to prioritize the education, health and well-being of their family.

Nevertheless, girls and women remain particularly disadvantaged worldwide and a girl is still three times more likely never to go to school than a boy. So we still have a long way to go before we achieve gender equality in education.

To reach this goal, we need strong partnerships committed to learning – such as GPE. Because of its coordinating role, GPE is a key player in the international education architecture.

3. How does Germany support children in continuing learning and especially in bringing girls back to school after the COVID-19 crisis?

The BMZ has put together a comprehensive “Emergency COVID-19 Support Program” of which education is an important component. We quickly adapted to the pandemic and its consequences by promoting distance learning approaches in cooperation with our partners in developing countries and by expanding WASH measures in our education and vocational training projects.

But we know that this is not enough. We see that girls are more at risk than boys of not returning to education once schools reopen. That is why Germany is supporting developing countries and emerging economies in minimizing those risks, for instance, by re-opening educational institutions as safe spaces.

In the long term, it will be crucial to strengthen the overall resilience of education systems. Through its support of holistic reform efforts, the Global Partnership for Education – and especially its COVID-19 Response – is of great importance.

4. Germany is a key donor of GPE, for the next GPE Strategy period 2021-2025, what is your vision for GPE?

Germany will remain a reliable and strong partner of GPE.

My vision for the Strategy period 2021-2025 is to put those who are most marginalized first. We must not leave anyone behind. Empowering girls and women is crucial to realizing this principle. I encourage the GPE Board to think big at the ongoing board meeting and decide to provide additional support for girls' education through a targeted funding window.

I envision an ambitious gender equality approach and a strong GPE replenishment in mid-2021 in order to bring quality education to every child.

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

I have particularly strong memories of my politics and history teacher. She showed me during my time at school that politics is happening all around us, whether I myself get involved or not. In a democracy, I have that chance to get involved and have a say on how things develop in the world around me. It was because of her that I started listening to the news and to political commentators; I was really interested in hearing the range of opinions. I am an intensely political person but it was my school that really brought that out in me. A democracy depends on democrats, it cannot thrive on its own. So it was my time at school and my politics teacher that laid the foundations for my career in politics.

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