US$5 billion target of global education campaign spearheaded by UK and Kenya

published 12 October 2020 updated 21 October 2020

The United Kingdom (UK) and Kenya will co-host a high-level summit of key global players and decision makers in 2021 to lead global action to educate every child.

The UK will host the landmark global education summit in mid-2021, during the year of the UK’s G7 Presidency. The co-hosts – UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta – have urged world leaders to invest in getting children into school and reverse the impact of COVID-19 on school attendance and learning. The 2021 summit will raise funds for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which has launched a call to action to raise at least US$5 billion for education in the world’s most vulnerable countries.

Coronavirus and the education crisis

Coronavirus has worsened the global education crisis, with 1.3 billion children – including 650 million girls – out of education at the peak of school closures. Experts warn that many children will never return, particularly as countries experience an economic contraction in the wake of the pandemic.

The hosts: UK and Kenya

Next year’s summit will raise funds for GPE’s work in developing countries helping to get children into school, lift communities out of poverty, and prevent girls being forced into child marriage.

“Education unlocks doors to opportunity and prosperity,” said Johnson. “It offers girls a ticket out of poverty and exploitation to chart their own futures. That’s why I am delighted that the UK will co-host the replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education in 2021. I urge the global community to come together, dig deep and ensure we fund their vital work to give every child the chance at an education.” The UK is the GPE’s top donor.

The Government of Kenya has made education a central part of its strategy to become a newly industrialised nation by 2030. Kenya has made substantial gains in education, achieving universal primary enrolment, and breaking down gender barriers to get as many girls as boys into school.

“An educated population is a country’s most valuable resource,” said Kenyatta. “We must use the opportunity of GPE’s financing conference to make ambitious pledges to invest in quality education, so our children and young people have the skills and knowledge they need to seize the opportunities of the 21st century.”

Funding for the future

The GPE’s funding target of US$5 billion over the next five years will help to ensure that 175 million children can learn in 87 lower-income countries. And it will potentially add US$164 billion to economies in the developing world, lift 18 million people out of poverty, and protect two million girls from early marriage, according to the organisation.

“An investment in GPE is an investment in the world’s most powerful asset – its children and youth,” said Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia and GPE Board Chair. “By refinancing GPE, leaders can send a clear message that the world is serious about creating a brighter future for all girls and boys through education.”

The mission of GPE

GPE, of which Education International is a board member, is a shared commitment to ending the world’s learning crisis. GPE mobilises partnerships and investments to help almost 70 partner countries transform their education systems to deliver quality learning to more girls and boys, especially those who are marginalised by poverty, gender, disability, or displacement.

In response to disruptions to education caused by the pandemic, GPE recently launched a $500 million COVID-19 emergency fund to help keep students learning in lower-income countries. So far, 55 countries are using the funds to support distance learning, help to reopen schools safely, and build resilience against future crises.