For the past two years, the Education Commission has called for an increase in global financing for education which has been declining for six consecutive years – leaving millions of children out of school and young adults failing to learn and adapt to the modern world.
To help deliver on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4’s promise to “ensure an inclusive and equitable quality education for all” and provide education systems with more and better investment, the Commission recommended, among other things, an increased target for the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) budget to US$2 billion a year by 2020, more than tripling its current size.
In February at the GPE Financing Conference in Dakar, world leaders, ministers, civil society leaders, education experts, philanthropic foundations, and the private sector came together and made huge progress toward this objective. Donor countries nearly doubled their financial contributions to GPE, from US$1.3 billion over the past three years to US$2.3 billion for 2018-2020. This will allow GPE to expand its operations by about $300 million annually over the next three years.
The biggest boost in education financing came from developing countries themselves, as they committed to increasing public expenditure for education to US$110 billion for 2018-2020, up from $80 billion pledged for 2015-2017. This increase in public expenditure is a step in the right direction towards the Commission’s recommendation that low- and middle-income countries increase their domestic spending for education from 4 to 5.8 percent of GDP by 2030.
This unprecedented financial support for education signals a new momentum and potential for countries and governments to address the critical funding needed to achieve SDG 4.
There is no time to waste. While the results from the GPE replenishment are indeed positive, countries, development partners, and civil society organizations must continue their efforts to advocate for and increase additional education financing to make sure no child is left behind.
As Commissioner and former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete said in Dakar, “Let’s turn this education crisis into an opportunity by reforming our systems to deliver quality learning and equity. The future of our next generation here in Africa – and around world – depends on it.” Commissioner and CEO of Save the Children Helle Thorning-Schmidt added: “Let’s make 2018 the year we start a revolution in education financing.”
The GPE Financing Conference got this year of education revolution off to a strong start – a year when the Commission will continue working with its partners to close the global education funding gap.
We will aim to leverage support for education in emergencies through the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) fund and develop a new International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) to increase the capacity of Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and their engagement in the education sector.
Revolutions require bold action, creativity, and commitment. Let’s work together to put an end to the learning crisis and create a #LearningGeneration.