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A step – not a leap – closer to quality education for every child.

The 100 Million campaign welcomes announcements by governments during the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) third financing conference to commit over US$2 billion in donor funds and US$110 billion in domestic budgets to realise children’s right to quality education.

Held in Dakar, Senegal, and co-hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France and President Macky Sall of Senegal, the conference brought together governments, civil society actors, the private sector, and foundations to push forward GPE’s efforts to ensure quality education for up to 870 million children across 89 countries over the next three years. GPE is the major multilateral agency supporting quality, public education in low- and lower-middle-income countries

While donors pledged just over US$2 billion in new money – an increase from the US$1.3 billion contributed over the last three years – the target of US$3.1 billion was missed. While this is disappointing overall, 100 Million welcomes the major commitments made by supportive countries including:

  • Senegal, which committed to spend 25% of its national budget on education, and became the first African donor to GPE with a pledge of US$2 million.

  • France, pledging a substantial €200 million (US$250 million), which marks a massive increase from the €17 million pledged in 2014.

  • Canada, which has doubled its previous contribution to CAD$180 million (US$144 million) over the three years (announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier in January).

  • Norway, which will contribute over NOK2 billion 2018-2020 (US$258 million) over the period, an increase of 40% on its previous commitment.

  • Sweden, which will give over US$105 million 2018-2020, marking an increase of 27% on its annual contributions for the preceding 3 years.

  • United Arab Emirates, which made a bold first-ever pledge of US$100 million.

Last week, 100 Million campaign founder and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi spoke at the Swedish parliament to discuss Sweden’s work on global education. This meeting was to follow up on the strong showing made by Swedish politicians during 100 Million’s first ever Back to School Day for Decision-Makers in October 2017: over 20% of members of parliament, along with three ministers of state, met thousands of school children to discuss the global education crisis.

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and 100 Million campaign founder, Kailash Satyarthi, stated:

“The announcements will delight the thousands of young people who asked their decision-makers to support global education – including in Sweden, where thousands of young people they asked for change, and they got it. It is so great to see the Swedish government for heeding the call of children all over the country. I congratulate all those leaders who have backed their commitments with increased funding and urge every government to follow suit – the future of millions of children depends on it.”

Governments in developing countries committed to spend US$110 billion on education – up from the pledges of US$80 billion made in 2014. Although a welcome step-change, few governments are on track with their 2014 commitments. The pledges made by developing countries show their ambition, but they will need support from the international community – and action from civil society – to ensure reform on tax and on debt, to make these pledges become reality.

Education for every child will not be achieved by the 2030 deadline set in the Sustainable Development Goals without governments spending 20% of national budgets, yet for that 20% to make a meaningful impact, domestic budgets overall must be increased. The 100 Million campaign believes that the single most powerful way to do this is to take global action on tax, and agrees with President Macron’s observation during the conference that the private sector can make a huge difference by paying fair tax in the countries where they make a profit.

The progress made in Dakar this week is welcomed by 100 Million. But with aid to education stagnating since 2010, and with the funding provided by GPE contributing only a portion of the overall amount needed to achieve SDG4, this is clearly a small step towards fulfilling the right to education for all, and not the giant leap hoped for by 264 million children and young people who are still waiting to go to school.

For every child to be able to break the cycle of poverty and have the chance to fulfil their potential, education is critical. 100 Million urges leaders everywhere to see the Dakar financing conference as a start: they must keep up the work by delivering their pledges, and work together on tax justice to give developing countries a fighting chance to achieve the ambitious – yet critical goal – for every child to enjoy their right to education.

The full list of pledges to GPE can be found here.


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