London, 11 June, 2021. Earlier today, at the G7 Leaders’ Summit, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK has pledged £430 million to the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) 2021-25 replenishment.
Though this pledge is a good foundation and represents a modest increase from previous commitments, it remains underwhelming and falls short of the level of ambition needed to address the world’s learning crisis. More is expected of the UK as co-host of the Global Education Summit (GES), and a pledge at this level risks the UK losing its current status as the leading country donor to the partnership.
The pledge is substantially less than the £600 million called for by civil society and parliamentarians from all parties. A UK commitment at this level would maximise the chances that GPE reaches its overall funding target of US $5 billion, enabling the partnership to lift 18 million people out of poverty, protect two million girls from child marriage and add US$164 billion to partner countries' economies.
This comes in the middle of a global education crisis, compounded by the pandemic, and at a time when the Government has announced 40% cuts to global education spending, and is reneging on its manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of the UK’s national income on aid. These decisions are jeopardising the Government’s ambitions on girls’ education and damaging its ability to inspire sufficient ambition from other countries to reach the US$5bn target.
There is still time to rectify this, especially as promises made to restore the UK’s aid spending to 0.7% mean that increased funding will be available over the period covered by the replenishment.
The Global Education Summit represents a unique opportunity for world leaders to come together and commit critical financing for global education. Ahead of the Global Education Summit, Prime Minister Johnson must commit the UK to top-up its pledge to GPE to ensure that by the end of the replenishment cycle, the UK has contributed a total of £600 million to the partnership.
The eyes of the world are on the UK. Stepping up its ambition in funding GPE is a crucial first step in restoring the UK’s well-earned reputation as a trusted development partner. We urge the UK to increase its pledge to the GPE to £600m to meet the education challenges presented by this moment, urgently restore aid spending to 0.7% of GNI, and reverse the other cuts to global education spending. Doing so will signal that the UK is ready to return to the global stage at a time when the need has never been greater.
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