In Copenhagen, Donors Step Up Pledges to Global Partnership for Education
Four years away from the 2015 target date for achieving Education for All, leading donors pledged $1.5 billion for the multilateral Global Partnership for Education over the next three years at a conference in Copenhagen (Denmark) on 8 November 2011 that gathered over 200 participants from more than 40 countries.
Opening the first Pledging Conference with Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Christian Friis Bach and Carol Bellamy, Chair of the Global Partnership, UNESCO’s Director-General stated that “Across the world, governments are making tremendous efforts at the national level to step up action on Education for All, but they need support. More than ever, partnership, political will and international solidarity lie at the heart of our capacity to fulfill the right to education.”
Applause echoed across the meeting venue in Docken, a former industrial warehouse, as donors, ministers, civil society and private sector partners announced their pledges during three-minute interventions. Donors also pledged to increase bilateral funding over the next three years while developing countries present at the conference promised to raise domestic basic education spending by more than $2 billion. Private sector members of the Global Partnership’s board pledged to spend $687 million on education programs.
Speaking at a pledging session, the Director-General underlined the importance of formulating evidence-based education sector plans, building the capacity of Education Ministries and promoting wide dialogue for leading successful reforms.
In a separate Ministerial meeting on girls’ education, she urged for increased public spending on adult literacy and a better understanding of obstacles to getting girls into secondary education, stressing that “gender differences run deep.” Speaking at session with the private sector, she stated that “we need a real scaling up of efforts towards 2015 that requires a broad mobilization.” From upgrading the ICT competencies of teachers to improving the transition from school to work, “there is a lot of innovation taking place today between educators and the private sector. We must support this trend.”
The Partnership (formerly known as the Fast Track Initiative), works with 46 developing countries by supporting them to implement their education sector plans.
Over the next three years, funding dedicated to the Global Partnership for Education is expected to help put 25 million children into classrooms for the first time. It will focus more specifically on fragile and conflict-affected states, education quality and girls.
UNESCO is a member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership and hosts its Chair, Ms Carol Bellamy. Over the past years, UNESCO has assisted the governments of Afghanistan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo and others to prepare their national education plans in order to qualify for funding.
According to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report, disbursements of aid to basic education increased by around one-fifth from 2008 to 2009 to reach US$5.6 billion. After a stagnation in 2008, the increase of US$1 billion is a welcome development, but remains vastly insufficient to fill the US$16 billion financing gap.