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New funding for education lays foundation for the future

Last week in Copenhagen, representatives from 52 countries committed substantial resources that will help to transform the lives of millions of children.

They were meeting at the first-ever replenishment event for the newly named Global Partnership for Education, Donors pledged an initial $1.5bn for the multilateral Global Partnership for Education.

At the same time, developing countries attending the event promised to raise domestic basic education spending by more than $2bn.

Bucking the trend

Leading up to the pledging conference Save the Children was concerned that we’d see a sharp downturn in bilateral funding for education. While this remains a concern in some countries, five leading donors – France, the European Commission, Germany, Australia and the UK – have reversed this trend and promised significant increases in their bilateral support to education.

I was particularly proud of the role played by the United Kingdom at the event which became the Global Partnership for Education’s single largest donor.

In addition to a financial commitment of £150 million, the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development, Stephen O’Brien, outlined the UK’s broader commitment to closing the global education gap, especially for girls.

Sound investment

The UK’s investment in the Partnership makes sense. Over the next three years, the funding received by the Global Partnership for Education in Copenhagen will help put 25 million children into classrooms for the first time, train 600,000 new teachers, and significantly reduce illiteracy for primary school aged children.

Education is vital for child and maternal health – and the long-term impacts of Global Partnership’s support during this period include saving the lives of 350,000 children and 14,000 mothers.

What we’ll do

I was also really proud to represent Save the Children in Copenhagen and to be able to share our aims for education over the next three years.

Speaking on behalf of the entire Save the Children family I indicated that we will:

  • increase access to primary education for 1.36 million children in conflict-affected fragile states, half of whom will be girls
  • improve the quality of the learning environment for all children attending Save the Children supported schools
  • support the acquisition of early-grade literacy skills for more than 550,000 children benefitting from Save the Children’s Literacy Boost.
$1 billion
Between 2012 and 2014 some 35 million children and their adult teachers and carers will benefit from our education work. The value of our work over the period will exceed $1 billion.

We’re able to be this specific about what we’ll achieve because we’ve developed systems to track our contributions and their impact.

Vital contribution

“In Copenhagen, we saw a transformative outcome for the world’s children to which Save the Children has made a vital contribution,” said Carol Bellamy, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education.

“Without education, our efforts to save lives, empower women, grow economies and promote stability will fail in the long run. Developing country leaders understand this and today promised to significantly increase domestic education budgets,” she said.

“Leading donors answered the call by raising their bilateral commitments and kick-starting multilateral financing for the Global Partnership for Education. And civil society, including Save the Children have shown how they intend to support practical action for children and grow the public support for and political commitment to education,” said Carol.

Building the future

The funding committed at the event together with the broader efforts outlined by donor and developing country governments still falls short of the resources and action required to get all of the world’s children into school.

But it lays a solid foundation on which to build. And build we will.

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