BRUSSELS — The Global Partnership for Education will hold a ‘replenishment’ summit in Brussels. There, they will ask world leaders to provide funds for another four years.
The Global Partnership for Education has become one of the most influential international education organizations, channeling billions of dollars from 20 countries to support educational systems in 59 developing countries.
Increasing education has proven to not only help fight the spread of diseases, but also encourages a better future for both boys and girls. However, there are still tens of millions of children, many of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa, who do not have any access to primary school education.
“In some ways the argument for getting every child into school speaks for itself,” said Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and chairwoman of The Global Partnership for Education, “but in our crowded, noisy world, even things that should be obvious have to be spoken for and advocated.”
She added that the abductions of schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram militants should “act as an alarm bell for the threat of extremism and also a catalyst for protecting education.”
“Anyone who is serious about wanting to promote economic growth and to tackle extremism should start by building classrooms and training teachers,” said Gillard.
However, many have doubts that the fundraising will deliver any change. It has been 24 years since the international community made its promise that every child should have a primary education, and now it looks as though the 2015 deadline will be missed.
But there are some who believe that The Global Partnership for Education is, and can continue to make a difference by focusing on long-term systemic changes instead of short-term projects. The Global Partnership for Education also requires countries that receive funds to increase their own investment in education to 20 percent.
“Developing countries need to step up—it’s an integral part of our model. It’s not donor governments saying here’s a big load of cash. We require developing countries to increase their spending and to sign up to plans to which they can be held accountable,” said Gillard.
The government of Ethiopia has more than doubled its investment in education, allotting 25 percent of government spending and putting the country on track for universal primary education.
“Our fundamental challenge has been poverty—and to alleviate poverty, education is the tool,” said Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister.
In a little more than a decade, the number of primary schools in Ethiopia has risen from 11,000 to 36,000 and the number of students who advance into higher education has increased from 5,000 to 130,000.
“Improving education is the engine to pull the economy away from poverty and into becoming a modern, self-sufficient nation,” said Mekonnen. “The key intervention must be a productive workforce. Education is fundamental to have a knowledge-based economy.”
In Yemen, there has been a sharp rise in girls enrolling in school and Afghanistan has seen a rapid growth in schools, teachers and pupil enrollment, despite the political uncertainty.
The Global Partnership for Education is expecting donations from the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Australia, as they have been the largest contributors in the past.