This is a critical time for the future of global education. In recent months, high level meetings in Incheon, Oslo and Addis Ababa have set the framework for achieving our common goal: inclusive, equitable, quality education for all.
They have also recognized the central role of the Global Partnership for Education as a key convener, coordinator and implementation partner in the post-2015 education agenda. The Global Partnership is increasingly seen as a far-sighted model for the enhancement of development cooperation for education and the leveraging of further funds.
World Education Forum, Korea
First, in Incheon, Korea, global education leaders and policy makers unified behind the new, ambitious post-2015 education agenda. 150 ministers from around the world as well as multilateral institutions, civil society and non-governmental organizations sealed a broad-based consensus to implement the Education 2030 Framework for Action.
Those attending wanted to convey a real sense of urgency and ambition for education in the next 15 years:
“We commit with a sense of urgency to a single, renewed education agenda that is holistic, ambitious and aspirational, leaving no one behind. This new vision is fully captured by the proposed SDG 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all” and its corresponding targets.”
The Incheon Declaration recommends that the Global Partnership for Education be a co-convener and implementing partners of the post-2015 education agenda – formalizing the key role of the Global Partnership alongside UN agencies and the World Bank.
In early July the Norwegian government hosted The Oslo Summit on Education for Development. This high-level meeting focused specifically on how to reverse the negative trend in international financial support for education as well as addressing girls’ education, quality of learning, and education in emergencies and crises – all critical challenges if we are to achieve universal education by 2030.
A very welcome step towards addressing the sector’s financing needs was the announcement in Oslo of a high-level Commission on Financing for Global Education. The Commission, chaired by UN Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, will reinvigorate the case for investment in education, identify more effective, accountable and coordinated ways to deploy resources, and look at a wide range of financing sources, including domestic resource mobilization, non-traditional partnerships, innovative finance and the private sector. The Global Partnership for Education looks forward to working closely with the Financing Commission, which will report its findings in September 2016.
The Oslo Summit also discussed global funding needs for education in emergencies and protracted crises. Currently, 37 million children and youth are out of school due to conflicts, disasters, displacements and epidemics. Many of them will miss months and even years of school, undermining their own future and the future of their countries.
A champions’ group to advance global action on education in emergencies and crises has agreed a set of principles that reaffirm existing commitments. The group will also review funding modalities, including a new fund to support education in emergencies. It is expected to make its recommendations ahead of the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.
Supporting children in fragile and conflict-affected countries is one of the Global Partnership’s strategic objectives. Just under half of GPE grants in 2014 were allocated to fragile and conflict-affected countries.
The Global Partnership is committed to working with key partners on this issue and to help develop the operational structures needed to support and fund education in emergencies and protracted crises.
Financing for Development, Addis Ababa
A week after the Oslo Summit, heads of state/government and development and finance ministers from around the world met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss financing of ALL of the new global goals – including SDG4 on education. A strengthened and scaled-up Global Partnership for Education has been recognized in the outcome document of the conference as a central implementing mechanism.
In the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, 193 countries agreed to “scale up investments and international cooperation to allow children to complete free, inclusive and quality early childhood, primary and secondary education, including through scaling up and strengthening initiatives, such as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).”
Without doubt, our first and most important challenge in achieving the new ambitious education goals is financing. The external financing gap for achieving a full course of quality education for every child is estimated to be around $39 billion annually between now and 2030.
No matter how you slice and dice the numbers, there is not enough money being invested in education globally and that limits progress. While $39 billion sounds like an enormous number, it is achievable if we mobilize external funds from traditional and non-traditional donors alike. We need to broaden the donor community, including involving emerging nations as donors and philanthropic organizations. If that happened, we could close the gap easily.
The Global Partnership for Education’s business model has been developed over ten years and I can say with confidence that the partnership is ready and able to scale up its operations. The new GPE strategic plan (2016-2020) will even more closely align our goals and priorities to the new Sustainable Development Goal for education. Its realization will depend on traditional and new donors stepping up their financial commitments, identifying innovative ways to harness resources and developing countries increasing their own education spending and on all of us making sure that money is spent efficiently.
I want to thank my colleagues and partners all over the world for the important steps we have taken together at Incheon, Oslo and Addis – and look forward to continuing that work together. I also look forward to working with new partners who are equally committed to ensuring that all children receive a quality education, no matter where they live.