The last year has been a lively year in British politics. Parliament triggered Article 50, the country voted (again) in a dramatic general election and, to top it off, the Cabinet had a row over chlorinated chicken. But throughout it all, campaigners across the country have been fighting to make sure that global education remains firmly on the political agenda.
The long-awaited Global Partnership for Education (GPE) replenishment takes place tomorrow in Dakar, Senegal. As world leaders prepare to take to the stage and pledge to the GPE, let’s take a look back at a year of relentless advocacy, powerful campaigning and action.
Send My Friend to School kick-starts the year with campaign launch
On World Day of Social Justice in February, Send My Friend launched its 2017 campaign ‘The Missing Piece of the Puzzle.’ 264 million children and young people are out of school, but there’s still a staggering education financing gap of $39 billion. The campaign put the spotlight on financing as the missing piece of the puzzle for global education and called on the UK government to pledge US$500 million (approximately £360 million) to GPE.
Throughout the year, 300,000 young people took part in the campaign, meeting and sending jigsaw puzzle pieces with messages about global education to their local MP to take to the Secretary of State. Here are some of their stories.
RESULTS UK campaigners tell the Secretary of State why education counts
From April, RESULTS campaigners took part in the campaign action Education Counts, reiterating the call for the UK to pledge US$500 million to GPE. Campaigners met with their MPs to discuss the vital role of GPE in tackling the global learning crisis and asked them to write to the Secretary of State in support of a strong funding commitment from the UK.
But even when children do have access to school, there’s no guarantee that they are getting a quality education. More than half the world’s children - 387 million - are not on track to read by the end of primary school. That’s why this year campaigners have renewed the campaign and written to the Secretary of State about the UK’s leadership role in helping GPE to improve learning and the delivery of education on the ground. We’ve also had some fantastic media pieces from campaigners Chris and Gill.
A day of action in Parliament
In July, Send My Friend campaign champions had a day of action in Parliament, where they reversed roles with the International Development Committee and questioned two members, as well as the foreign office special envoy for gender equality about global education financing. Campaign champions met with their constituency MPs, from Anna Soubry to Tan Dhesi, to discuss why they should support the right to education. After speaking with some of the campaigners, Nicky Morgan MP said ‘they’re really enthusiastic and they don’t take no for an answer!’
The APPG on Global Education panel event with Julia Gillard
The APPG organised a panel event in Parliament in September with Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, Stephen Twigg, a DFID representative, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Muzoon Almellehan from Syria and Rita and Sophie, year 11 campaign champions from Send My Friend to School.
The panel focused on the importance of quality education for all and the upcoming financial replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education. Over 15 parliamentarians attended, including shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP, who remarked that she was impressed by how many of her constituents had reached out to her about this issue.
The International Development Committee launches its report at Send My Friend School
The International Development Committee launched its report into the Department for International Development’s work on education. The report highlighted the global learning crisis and recommended that DFID give the full amount requested to GPE.
We were delighted that the Committee launched its report at Send My Friend school Woodside High, where Chair Stephen Twigg met with young campaigners, who passionately spoke about what they thought DFID should prioritise when funding global education.
55 MPs sign-on to a letter to the new Secretary of State
APPG Chair Stephen Twigg MP (Labour) and Henry Smith MP (Conservative) wrote a letter to the Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, echoing our call for a $500 million pledge to GPE. It has been heartening to see so much cross-party political support, which certainly wouldn’t have been possible without RESULTS, Send My Friend and Global Citizen campaigners writing and meeting with their MPs. It sends a strong message that their constituents care about global education, and so should they.
Phew! It certainly has been a year of non-stop campaigning for education at every turn. It has not gone unnoticed - the Secretary of State even said that she knew there was a lot of public support for global education in yesterday’s International Development Committee evidence session.
Now it’s time for the UK Government to take up the mantle and step up to the challenge of the global learning crisis. Tomorrow is a unique opportunity for the UK to listen to all of your voices and commit to funding quality education for millions of children.