Parliamentarians in Asia-Pacific mark 100 days until GPE’s Global Education Summit

To mark the 100-day countdown to GPE’s Global Education Summit, parliamentarians convened a virtual roundtable, on April 21, to discuss the critical role of development cooperation in supporting the world’s poorest countries, especially those in Asia and the Pacific, to educate their children.

April 28, 2021 by IPNED Secretariat
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5 minutes read
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Parliamentarians from Asia-Pacific countries raising their hands to support GPE financing campaign.
Parliamentarians from Asia-Pacific countries raising their hands to support GPE financing campaign.

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”.

Responding to Ms. Yoshida’s intervention, Chairman of the International Cooperation Research Committee of the Liberal Democratic Party, MP Ashiako Mihara echoed the support of MPs in Japan for GPE’s replenishment.

In Japan, 10 MPs recently attended a seminar on GPE organized by Results Japan. MP Mihara explained that “based on our experiences and learnings we need to support developing countries and that is the priority for our group in Japan”.

Following these remarks, the parliamentarians, representing current GPE donor partners as well as prospective donor partners such as Singapore and New Zealand, raised their hands in support of GPE’s financing campaign.

The parliamentarians then discussed the actions they are planning to take in the run up to GPE’s Global Education Summit.

Senator Deborah O’Neill, IPNEd Regional Representative for Oceania, said she was working with colleagues on a letter calling for Australia to increase its funding for GPE.

“Australia has been an important supporter of GPE, but I am concerned that our contributions to GPE since 2011 have been falling. With a growing number of Indo-Pacific countries partnering with the GPE, Australia’s leadership is critical for the prosperity of the region”.

Echoing Senator O’Neill’s support, Joanne Ryan MP shared that she was seeking to establish a network of schools in Australia to advocate for and raise awareness of global education and GPE.

Jasmus Lim MP said that in a recent speech he had delivered in parliament, he called for Singapore to be more ambitious in its allocation of overseas development assistance (ODA). Similar calls were made by MPs from Malaysia during the roundtable.

Alice Albright emphasized the importance of action by parliamentarians in building support for GPE and ensuring governments make ambitious pledges in July:

“We often hear from our donor partners that parliamentary pressure plays a huge role in tipping the scales in support of GPE. Now is the time to ramp up the pressure and we are relying hugely on all of your support in your national parliaments”.

“I’m delighted that IPNEd is working to build political understanding of and commitment to more and better aid for education” said Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, IPNEd’s co-founder and Executive Director.

Now more than ever, with the pressure on public finances in both donor and developing countries, parliamentary support for action to deliver quality education is critical.

Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly

This roundtable for parliamentarians in the Asia-Pacific followed a similar meeting of European European MPs.

“In the critical weeks ahead of GPE’s financing summit, IPNEd will continue its work to build political support for more and better funding for education. I’m especially excited that we will be working with our members in GPE’s partner countries in the coming weeks and hosting a meeting for all our members with GPE’s chair Julia Gillard and the UN Special Envoy for Education, Gordon Brown on June 3.

“Julia and Gordon are models of sustained political leadership for education and I’m excited that our members will have an opportunity to be inspired and encouraged by them both,” concluded Mr Nhan-O’Reilly.

This week the Network is co-hosting a webinar on how the Commonwealth can be a leading platform to support education financing ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

For more information about the Network’s work on education financing, please visit https://www.ipned.org/ipned-campaigns or email info@ipned.org.

For more information about GPE in Japanese language, please visit https://raiseyourhand.jp/ and the following:

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