Donors Boost Financing for Education Systems
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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Donors at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) conference in Dakar, Senegal, announced a US$1 billion increase in education funding for developing countries.

Their commitments mark progress towards GPE’s target of US$2 billion a year by 2020 in a bid to achieve large-scale gains in education worldwide.

UNESCO finds that reading literacy has risen in some countries, and highlights some metrics for assessing progress.

2 February 2018: At the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) conference in Dakar, Senegal, donors announced a US$1 billion increase in education funding for developing countries. Their commitments mark progress towards GPE’s target of raising US$2 billion a year by 2020 to achieve large-scale gains in education worldwide. The UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meanwhile, finds that reading literacy has risen in some countries, and highlights metrics for assessing progress.

The GPE is a multi-stakeholder partnership and funding platform, established in 2002 to strengthen education systems in developing countries. It was created during Canada’s presidency of the G7, building on its predecessor, the Education for All – Fast Track Initiative. The Partnership has adopted SDG 4 (quality education) as its global vision, and emphasizes that education is central to achieving all 17 SDGs.

The replenishment conference took place from 1-2 February 2018, attended by ten heads of state, including conference co-hosts Emmanuel Macron of France and Macky Sall of Senegal. The conference drew more than 1,200 participants from UN agencies, multilateral development banks, donors and civil society. Singer Rihanna attended in her role as GPE’s global ambassador.

Donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing from 2018-2020, in addition to the US$1.3 billion that was contributed over the previous three years. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Senegal became the GPE’s first Arab and African donors respectively, with the UAE pledging US$100 million and Senegal committing US$2 million. Sall’s announcement stressed that “the battle for education is the mother of battles,” reported Agence Française de Développement. Canada doubled its contribution to CAD180 million, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted Canada’s commitment to education for girls, stating that quality education will promote a more gender-equal, peaceful and prosperous world.

GPE will direct the funds pledged for 2018-2020 towards helping 19 million additional children to complete primary school and 6.6 million additional children to complete lower secondary school, including children in fragile or conflict-affected areas. In seeking a large increase in funding, the Partnership hopes to emulate the successes of the health sector in achieving large-scale gains in the health status of developing countries.

UNESCO highlighted the need for efficient and accurate systems to measure progress towards SDG 4 commitments.

In December 2017, UNESCO announced that children’s literacy has largely improved in some countries. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), conducted by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement, found that 96% of fourth-graders in 60 education systems around the world have reading levels above the international benchmark. Furthermore, girls in 48 countries performed better than boys. At the launch of the study, UNESCO stressed the importance of early childhood education in promoting literacy, and highlighted the need for efficient and accurate systems such as the PIRLS to measure progress towards SDG 4 commitments.

UNESCO and the International Association also launched a guidance booklet on how PIRLS can help measure progress towards SDG 4. The booklet provides a description and interpretation of indicators for selected SDG 4 targets, including targets 4.1 on primary education, 4.2 on early childhood development, 4.4 on skills for work, 4.5 on gender equality and inclusion, 4.a on effective learning environments and 4.c on teachers. [GPE Website] [GPE Webpage on Replenishment] [GPE Financing Conference Website] [Prime Minister of Canada’s Press Release] [World Bank GPE Press Release] [AFD Tweet] [UNESCO Press Release] [Measuring SDG 4: How PIRLS Can Help]

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