UK and Kenya to host major education summit in 2021
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kindgdom
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kindgdom
  • Landmark global education summit to take place in the UK in mid-2021, in the year of the UK's G7 Presidency.
  • The co-hosts - UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta - urge world leaders to invest in getting children into school and build back better from coronavirus.
  • The 2021 summit will raise funds for the Global Partnership for Education, which today launches a call to action to raise at least US$5 billion over five years for education in the world's most vulnerable countries.

The United Kingdom and Kenya will co-host a high-level summit next year to lead global action to educate every child, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Uhuru Kenyatta announce today (Monday 12 October).

Coronavirus has worsened the global education crisis, with 1.3 billion children – including 650 million girls – out of education at the peak of school closures. Experts warn that many children will never return, particularly as countries experience an economic contraction in the wake of the pandemic.

Missing out on education does long term damage to individuals and communities, with girls particularly at risk. The benefits of schooling are transformative and multi-generational - a child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five and twice as likely to attend school themselves. With just one additional school year, a woman’s earnings can increase by a fifth.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has championed girls education as the key to preventing exploitation and unlocking potential around the world, and the UK is the top donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Next year's summit will raise funds for GPE's vital work in developing countries helping to get children into school, lift communities out of poverty and prevent girls being forced into child marriage.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

"Since coronavirus struck, the number of children out of school around the world soared past 1.3 billion. It is a toll of wasted potential and missed opportunity that is a tragedy not just for those children, but for each and every one of us.

"Education unlocks doors to opportunity and prosperity. It offers girls a ticket out of poverty and exploitation to chart their own futures.

"That's why I am delighted that the UK will co-host the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in 2021. I urge the global community to come together, dig deep and ensure we fund their vital work to give every child the chance at an education."

The Government of Kenya has made education a central part of their strategy to become a newly industrialised nation by 2030. A GPE partner since 2005, Kenya has made impressive gains, achieving universal primary education and breaking down gender barriers to get as many girls as boys enrolling in school.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, said:

"An educated population is a country's most valuable resource. GPE has been a key partner in helping us invest in innovative solutions to get all our children, especially girls, learning.

"We must use the opportunity of GPE's financing conference to make ambitious pledges to invest in quality education so our children and young people have the skills and knowledge they need to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.

Even before the pandemic, 9 in 10 school children in low income countries were unable to read proficiently by the age of 10. Since its creation in 2002, GPE has already contributed to getting 160 million more children in school and doubling girls’ enrollment in the countries they work in, and is today announcing a $5 billion funding target for the next five years. It is calling on governments, businesses and individuals to invest in children’s futures.

This funding will help ensure that 175 million children can learn in 87 lower-income countries. In the longer term, this investment could add $164 billion to economies in the developing world, lift 18 million people out of poverty, and protect two million girls from early marriage.

Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and GPE Board Chair said:

“An investment in GPE is an investment in the world's most powerful asset – its children and youth. By refinancing GPE, leaders can send a clear message that the world is serious about creating a brighter future for all girls and boys through education.

"Today, we're launching our most ambitious and urgent campaign yet. We must seize this opportunity to make sure that no child is left behind. Our message to world leaders is simple: Raise your hand. Fund education.

The summit will take place in the UK in mid-2021 and will convene key global players and decision makers, with the aim of getting all children into school and learning.

Notes to editors:

  • Since 2015, the UK has supported 15.6 million children, including over 8 million girls, to gain a decent education. Last year, the UK invested £788 million directly in supporting global education.
  • The UK is also the leading donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Education Cannot Wait (ECW), and we will use the UK's upcoming G7 Presidency to increase financial and political commitments to girls' education, channelling investment and action to where it is needed most.
  • GPE is a shared commitment to ending the world's learning crisis. It is the only global partnership and fund dedicated entirely to helping children in lower income countries get a quality education, so they can unlock their potential and contribute to building a better world. GPE mobilizes partnerships and investments to help almost 70 partner countries transform their education systems to deliver quality learning to more girls and boys, especially those who are marginalized by poverty, gender, disability or displacement.
  • The first decade of this century saw major gains in getting more children in school, but progress has stalled. Even before coronavirus, nearly a quarter of a billion children, half of them girls, were still out of school, and in the poorest countries as many as eight out of every ten children leave primary school without even the most basic reading skills.
  • Teenage girls and young women are three times more likely than young men to be out of school or work. The hidden impact of coronavirus on women and girls, both short and long-term, will be particularly acute for those living in poverty-hit communities and war-torn countries, including the potential for what has been called a ‘shadow pandemic’ of gender-based violence.
  • In response to disruptions to education caused by the pandemic, GPE recently launched a $500 million COVID-19 emergency fund to help keep students learning in lower-income countries. So far, 55 countries are using the funds to support distance learning, help safely re-open schools, and build resilience against future crises.

For further enquiries, please contact:

GPE: Tamara Kummer / @email / +33 7 82 26 07 18

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

Multimedia materials, including b-roll of GPE’s work around the world, are available to download.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kindgdom
Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, and Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kindgdom

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