At a virtual roundtable on April 21, parliamentarians discussed the critical role of development cooperation in supporting the world’s poorest countries, especially those in Asia and the Pacific, to educate their children.
The roundtable marked the 100-day countdown to GPE’s Global Education Summit, which takes place on July 28-29. At the summit, co-hosted by Kenya and the UK, GPE aims to raise at least US$5 billion to transform education systems in up to 90 countries, where 80% of the world’s out-of-school children live.
Reflecting on this milestone, Alice Albright, GPE’s CEO, told MPs: “100 days out, we’re confronted with the largest education emergency in modern history. In lower-income countries, which were already facing a learning crisis before the pandemic, 126 million children are cut off from schools and many are at risk of never returning, especially girls. This is why GPE’s support is more critical than ever”.
Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Minister of Education of Cambodia, shared how the support of a fully-funded GPE would enable Cambodia and other GPE partner countries to sustain their educational progress:
“Cambodia has received support from GPE since 2006 which has catalyzed investment in our education system. GPE funding has helped increase access to education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds including through the provision of free schools and education in the language of ethnic minorities.”
“At least $5 billion from donors to GPE over the next five years will make a huge impact in Cambodia but also in other GPE countries”.
The parliamentarians also heard about the impact of COVID-19 on education systems in GPE partner countries in the Indo-Pacific, many of which already had high numbers of children out of school.
“The pandemic has brought out all the inequalities in our education system in Pakistan. We already had 22 million children out -of- school. When schools reopened attendance was below what it was pre-COVID. We are seeing the children on the roads, begging or as laborers”, said Mehnaz Akber Aziz, IPNEd Regional Representative for Asia and a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.
Aya Yoshida, Director of Global Issues Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, joined the meeting and reiterated Japan’s support to GPE.
“Japan and GPE have been collaborating for example on early education and distribution of textbooks to elementary schools in Papua New Guinea. And from the 2020 supplementary budget Japan decided to provide much more support to GPE than previous levels to address the dire situation in Ethiopia and Sudan”.