London, UK (29 July, 2021) - At today’s Global Education Summit, the international community raised US $4 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) 2021-25 replenishment. The UK’s pledge - already announced at the G7 - remains unchanged at £430 million over 5 years.
Commenting on the outcome of the Global Education Summit and the $4 billion raised, Aaron Oxley, Executive Director of RESULTS UK, said:
“In missing GPE’s fundraising target of ‘at least US $5 billion’ by a margin of $1 billion, the UK has failed in its duty as co-host. Although other major economies must also take responsibility for a collective lack of ambition in financing GPE, ultimate culpability lies with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Government.”
In its pledge to GPE, the UK Government fell well short of the £600 million called for by civil society and parliamentarians of all parties. This figure was needed to meet the educational needs of children in GPE’s partner countries and ensure a fully-funded GPE could reach its target of supporting 18 million people out of poverty, protecting two million girls from child marriage and adding US $164 billion to partner countries' economies. That is now looking unachievable.
Overall, the UK has slashed its Official Development Assistance (ODA) education budget by at least 25%, when its GPE pledge is considered alongside previously announced cuts. This has meant that for the first time in history, a host of a major education financing conference has simultaneously cut its funding for education. These destructive cuts are only 'necessary’ insofar as the current Government has chosen to break its promise to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) on ODA, making it the only G7 government to cut its ODA budget at this time of unprecedented global crisis.
It should come as no surprise that the UK failed to inspire other donors. In dramatically cutting UK spending on ODA, the Government has significantly damaged its international credibility and undermined its ability to persuade other countries to make financial commitments. The Government’s rhetoric about its global leadership is exposed by the insufficient substance behind its words and promises.
Aaron Oxley continued:
“The Prime Minister promised that he would champion girls’ education and their right to learn, yet when it really mattered, the Government has under-delivered. Both the UK’s pledge and missing the overall fundraising target today will come as a disappointment to the many who were expecting more and deserved better.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were already 248 million children and adolescents out of school. Almost every measure of access to education and learning outcomes has worsened since then. A fully-funded GPE is vital to stabilise educational recovery from the pandemic, stimulate progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 ‘Quality Education’ and guarantee the future of millions of children.
In contrast, we welcome the strong commitments made by GPE partner countries to deliver their part of the investment through domestic financing, setting forth a path to a brighter future for every child in the process, and we commend Kenya for its leadership as co-host in driving policy and financial commitments from partner countries.
But with an overall funding-gap of US $1 billion now looming over the partnership, the Prime Minister and other world leaders must move urgently to ensure this opportunity is not missed and that all pledges made at the Summit are fulfilled. Today must be a stepping stone rather than the end of the road to raising US $5 billion for GPE and getting 88 million more children in school, learning and looking forward to better futures.
While the pledging conference was the largest ever total at $4 billion, this is funding for a five year period, being $800 million per year. This compares to the previous pledging conference in Senegal which raised $2.3 billion, or $760 million per year. In this context, given the global education crisis, hitting the full $5 billion target to generate a meaningful uplift in available resources is essential.
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RESULTS UK is a movement of passionate, committed, everyday people who together use their voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. For more information please visit www.results.org.uk