WASHINGTON - April 10 - The Global Campaign for Education, which includes ActionAid, Oxfam and Comic Relief have welcomed Gordon Brown’s announcement to provide long term funding to ensure free quality education to children around the world.
Driving the campaign forward in Mozambique today are two London schoolchildren, 12 year-old Jenade Sharma and Lily King Taylor, 13.
On behalf of the Global Campaign for Education, Jenade and Lily have joined Nelson Mandela to call on Gordon Brown and other world leaders to keep their promise to achieve education for all and solve a global teacher crisis.
Today’s announcement of US$1.5 billion a year in aid to education each year to 2015 – a total of US$15 billion until 2015 – means at least a doubling of UK aid to basic education and is welcome.
But it must be recognized that this is not ‘new’ money, but instead a restatement of the G8 Gleneagles pledges with a focus on education. And with Brown’s announcement, aid agencies now expect the UK government to make a significant down payment to the Fast Track Initiative.
The Fast Track Initiative seeks to give additional aid to poor countries that have demonstrated a clear commitment to getting every child into school, including spending 20% of their budget on education. A large increase of funding to Fast Track will signal a real commitment to providing free quality education for all.
The money must be available for governments to spend on teachers, books and classrooms, and not on short-term projects that only benefit limited numbers of students.
The agencies also say that the announcement poses a significant challenge to other G8 countries to follow the UK’s lead, particularly the US, Japan, Germany and Italy if the current global education funding gap of US$10 billion a year is to be bridged.
Lucia Fry, Global Fund for Education spokesperson said: “This announcement gives hope that the millennium promises made in 2000 that all children will have the opportunity to attend school will be kept. But other rich countries need to follow the UK lead, otherwise this will not happen.
“We should not forget that on current rates of progress, children from poor countries will wait another 150 years to enter the school gate. In order to plan ambitiously, governments need a guarantee of long-term predictable aid from all rich countries. The world will only achieve education for all if there are enough motivated and well-trained teachers and this costs big money.”
At least 15 million teachers are needed between now and 2015 for all children to attend school and to learn in classes of less than 40.
The UK children’s campaign - My Friend Needs a Teacher
In the UK, the aid agencies are uniting in a period of extraordinary activity over the coming months to run a children’s campaign ‘My Friend Needs a Teacher’, to help achieve Education For All goals.
Schools are being asked to invite their local MPs into the classroom to receive cut-out teachers and to commit to do all they can to help the aid effort to get every child into school. Each cut-out represents a real teacher needed by a child.
“For the Make Poverty History campaign, UK schools called on G8 leaders to send their friends to school. Children responded by the millions. They are leading they way in ensuring that every child gets a decent education and is taught by a well trained teacher,” said Lucia Fry.