Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown: UK must take bolder action on global education

The UK government has pledged financial support at the G7 summit – but Sarah Brown is calling for more to be done to help millions of vulnerable children into school.  

The UK government today pledged financial support for global education – but Theirworld Chair Sarah Brown has called for much bolder action to help millions of vulnerable children into school.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the G7 Summit that the UK will give £430 million to the Global Partnership for Education – a fund for education in lower-income countries – over the next five years. This is in addition to pledges of €700 million from the European Commission and €25 million from Italy*.

Sarah Brown said:  

“The commitment to global education from the UK government is a welcome first step in the right direction but doesn’t go far enough, especially as it comes against a backdrop of savage cuts to the international aid budget which will push the world’s poorest people further to the margins.

“The funding is a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the global education crisis – with these three pledges representing just 0.33% of the $75 billion per year needed from donors to close the global education funding gap.

“The UK government must use today as a starting point – not the end point – for bold action to get every child in the world into school and give them the future they deserve. This must include the UK reversing its decision to cut its international aid budget.

“With the Global Education Summit in July, the United Nations General Assembly in September, the G20 in October and the RewirEd Summit in December, there are more than enough opportunities for leaders to show the leadership, and commit the funding, that is so desperately needed on global education.

“Unless this happens, hundreds of millions of children around the world will have their futures put at risk and the efforts to recover after this pandemic will be seriously undermined.”

The commitment from the UK is part of a commitment from G7 leaders to get 40 million more girls into school and 20 million more girls reading by the age of 10 in the next five years.

Before the pandemic, about 260 million children were out of school. The Covid-19 crisis disrupted education around the world and threatens to force millions more out of learning. At the height of the crisis, more than 1.6 billion children were forced out of school and it is feared that without proper investment in education more than 20 million children are at risk of never returning to the classroom.

It is understood that the UK government wanted to announce a collective G7 funding pledge to girls’ education today and is now hoping that other G7 leaders will announce funding commitments over the weekend.

The £430 million of new aid funding announced today is separate to the £400 million of UK aid which will be spent this year on bilateral efforts to increase girls’ access to education.

Theirworld’s Education Finance Playbook warns that at least an additional $75 billion a year, on average, is needed to meet the United Nations’ goal of quality education for every child by 2030. Current aid to education is just $16 billion a year and is projected to fall, leaving an education funding gap of at least $59 billion a year.

The Global Partnership for Education works to deliver quality education in lower-income countries. It will hold a summit next month – co-hosted by the UK and Kenya – which aims to raise at least $5 billion over five years to transform education systems for more than one billion children in up to 90 countries and territories.

* The European Commission’s commitment is over the next seven years and Italy’s commitment is over the next five years.

Read the UK government’s statement


Notes to Editors

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About Theirworld

Theirworld is a global children’s charity committed to ending the global education crisis.

It anticipates, targets and solves the complex barriers keeping children and young people from education and opportunity. The organisation mobilises the power of campaigning, policy change and innovation to provide every child, especially the most marginalised, with the best start in life, a safe place to learn and skills for the future.

Informed by breakthrough research and activated by an influential network of partners, Theirworld works with governments, businesses, NGOs, young people and campaigners to develop and deploy solutions to unleash the potential of the next generation.

For more information, visit Twitter @theirworld