Fund the Future: education for all

A parliamentary event held on the 26th of March brought together education experts, campaigners, and parliamentarians to talk about a pressing issue: funding education so that that every child can go to school.

It would cost £32 billion a year to give a quality education to every child in a low income country but a global funding gap means that only just over half of this money is currently available. The result is that 57 million children are missing out and many millions more are receiving a low quality education where they don’t even learn the basics.

With the Millennium Development Goals deadline fast approaching a plan is in place for a global fundraising event this summer where government leaders and donor organisations from around the world will be invited to pledge contributions so that every child can access the education they deserve.

This global fundraising event is being coordinated by the Global Partnership for Education. Their Chief Executive, Alice Albright, was one of the speakers at the parliamentary event and she highlighted the need for much greater financial commitments to be made to ensure education for all. She said that global poverty could be cut by 12% if all children learned basic reading skills.  Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, stressed that beyond development education is the key to unlocking every child’s potential and for their ability to live a fulfilling life. While the event Chair, Mark Williams MP, highlighted the worrying trend where aid to education has been falling in recent years.

The hope is that the fundraising event hosted by the Global Partnership for Education in June 2014 will be a key moment for donors to turn the funding crisis around.

There is good reason to be optimistic about what investing in education can achieve.  Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, His Excellency Demeke Mekonnen, spoke of Ethiopia’s success in doubling the numbers of children in primary school over the last ten years.  While there are still challenges of access, learning outcomes and drop-out rates, he thanked the UK government, the Global Partnership for Education, and other development partners for supporting the impressive achievements made to date.

Baroness Northover, House of Lords Spokesperson for the UK Department for International Development, echoed the centrality of education to development progress, and stressed the UK’s commitment to education as the largest bilateral donor and a champion for girls’ education.

The message from the event was clear: international donors as well as developing country governments need to step up their efforts to fund the future, and to ensure that there is financing in place to secure every child’s right to education.  In doing this, a priority should be placed on reaching the most marginalised, including girls, children living in conflict-affected countries, and children with disabilities.

Photo: © Tom Maguire/RESULTS UK