Belgium’s commitment to education financing: A dollar invested in girls' education, a better life for every girl

On 8 June 2021, GPE and Plan International Belgium organized a Youth Exchange open dialogue with Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation. The dialogue was led by some GPE youth leaders and activists. Here are the main takeaways.

June 28, 2021 by Bridget Akurut, and Maryjacob Okwuosa
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3 minutes read
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A young girl at the blackboard at the Sô-Ava primary school on the Sô river in Benin. Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud
A young girl at the blackboard at the So-Ava primary school on the So river in Benin. The school benefited from a new building financed through a GPE grant. Benin, December 2018
Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud

GPE and other education driven organizations and individuals have been working tirelessly ahead of the Global Education Summit in July. For GPE youth leaders, it's been an opportunity to change narratives and initiate conversations and actions that will yield better support for GPE to give more children their lives back through equal and accessible EDUCATION.

On 8 June 2021, GPE and Plan International Belgium organized a Youth Exchange open dialogue with Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation - Meryame Kitir. This dialogue was led by us - GPE Youth Leaders Bridget Akurut (Uganda) and Maryjacob Okwuosa (Nigeria) - and youth activists Naomi and Yousri from Plan International Belgium.

The discussion focused around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, girls' education, the role of young people’s advocacy to transform education and Belgium’s commitment to invest in education and youth.

The youth participants started by sharing their personal experiences with COVID-19 and how it has affected their personal lives and their work for education in their individual spaces and nations. Challenges highlighted included the digital divide, limited engagement with the community and social and cultural norms fueling gender inequality during the pandemic.

“We need to address these challenges by the communities to change their mindsets and help them appreciate that every girl has a dream to achieve, and make a contribution to their family, community and their country”

Bridget Akurut, GPE Youth Leader

Naomi and Yousri further added that there’s a need to remove stereotypes at school and family level which discriminate against girls and ensure that all girls stay in school.

GPE Youth leader Maryjacob, throughout the conversation, echoed the need for more young people to be involved and lead decision making as it involves their education.

“It is our future being invested in, we have to take responsibility and demand for more funding to education”

Maryjacob Okwuosa, GPE Youth Leader

She further stressed the need for all young people, both in developed and developing countries, to reach out to their leaders to support more funding for education, and for low-income countries to prioritize domestic financing for education.

Minister Kitir discussed the importance of social protection to ensure safety for all children:

“The situation at home is equally important…if there’s income in the family, then it’s easier to convince parents that girls can go back to school.”

She also pointed out the need for continuous dialogue with all stakeholders to ensure that education remains a priority, and for young people to use their voice for critical decision making at all levels. In the lead up to the Global Education Summit, Belgium will declare its contribution to fund education, “A dollar invested in girls’ education is much more valuable and you give more chances to someone’s life.”

 

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Europe and Central Asia: Belgium

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