December 01, 2017

Argentina leads the way in crucial year for education funding and safe schools

Argentine President Mauricio Macri (right), chair of the G20, will focus on ensuring children are able to learn in a safe and non-violent environment

Photo credit: Mauricio Macri

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The South American country takes on the G20 presidency today - and one major task is shaping a bold funding plan to get millions of children into school.

A new year starts today. No, we haven't got our dates wrong - December 1 marks the beginning of Argentina's 12-month presidency of the G20.

Great strides were made at this year's G20 summit on the funding of education for some of the world's poorest children - and now Argentina's President Mauricio Macri has been handed the baton by Germany.

With the future of millions of young people at stake, Macri has said that “nothing is more important for our future than education.”

The G20 is a forum for the governments and central bank governors of the world's leading industrialised and emerging economies to talk about global financial issues.

One of Argentina's main tasks in the next few months will be to see through the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd) - a bold plan that will unlock $10 billion a year and help to get millions of girls and boys into school and pre-primary education.

The idea for IFFEd came from the Education Commission, a body chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown that was made up leaders, researchers and experts. It spent a year investigating how the funding needed to get every child in school can be found.

Governments must work together to ensure quality education and lifelong learning opportunities are available for all by 2030

G20 leaders gave their backing to IFFEd at this year's summit in Germany after global organisations, including Theirworld, pushed hard for it to be included on the agenda. The declaration at the end of the talks said Argentina would shape the plan during its year-long presidency.

Theirworld's Global Youth Ambassadors have written to President Macri, urging him to use the G20 leadership to bring about lasting change.

They said: “Please keep your promise to the next generation of young people and call for the IFFEd to be established by the 2018 G20 meeting in Buenos Aires in order to unlock greater financing for education.

"We look forward to hearing from you, so we can feed back to our supporters and indeed the children who are out of school, who urgently need you to deliver your promise to not abandon their futures." 

Argentina has already shown it's serious about helping global education when it hosted the Second International Safe Schools Conference in March. More than 80 nations gathered in Buenos Aires to discuss how to protect students, teachers and their schools during armed conflict.

From birth to young adulthood, conflict and violence are destroying children and young people’s lives

Argentina takes over the G20 presidency today against a backdrop of some unrest at home over education reforms. That included high schools being occupied in September by students protesting at a plan to force them to work for private companies as unpaid interns.

Many parts of Latin America also face challenges around children's rights - including child marriage, poverty, inequality and gang violence.

If you didn't know that G20 stands simply for Group of 20 or that it was founded in 1999, here are some facts about this powerful body.

  1. The G20 comprises 19 individual countries plus the European Union. The countries are Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. 
  2. The G20 nations represent about two-thirds of the world’s population, 85% of global gross domestic product and over 75% of global trade.
  3. The first G20 meetings featured finance ministers and the heads of each country's central bank. But in 2008, during the global financial crisis, summits of the leaders from each member country were introduced.
  4. Each year the host country invites other guest nations or organisations. Spain has become a permanent fixture and it has become customary for the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and others to attend the leaders' summits. This year Norway was also invited to the summit in Hamburg.
  5. A lot of the groundwork is done in advance or on the sidelines by key advisers known as Sherpas. Tom Fletcher - former British Ambassador to Lebanon and now Director of Global Strategy for the Global Business Coalition for Education, said: "They get the leaders up the summit. The Sherpas meet regularly to prepare the agenda, key issues and - crucially - the final communique." Find out more about the Sherpas.
  6. The first Sherpas meeting of Argentina's presidency has already been held - on November 14 at Bariloche in the Patagonian region. 
  7. The G20 is supported by several international organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. These and other organisations are invited to attend key meetings.
  8. Throughout the year major events are also held by engagement groups from business (known as the B20), civil society (C20), labour (L20), think tanks (T20) and youth (Y20). The outcomes of these are submitted to the G20 leaders.
  9. The Y20 brings together young leaders from across G20 countries. This year they met in Berlin in June. The Y20 called on the G20 leaders' summit to back education for every child - especially girls.
  10. At the Y20, Saket Mani - one of Theirworld's network of Global Youth Ambassadors handed over petitions supporting education that were signed by 138,000 supporters of Theirworld, ONE and Global Citizen. He also delivered a call for action on IFFEd, supported by singer and education campaigner Shakira together with 29 major charities and organisations including Theirworld, ONE, Global Citizen, Save the Children, Avaaz, Malala Fund, Islamic Relief, VSO and World Vision.
  11. The G20 presidency will be held by Japan in 2019 and by Saudi Arabia in 2020.
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