8 June 2021 - Brussels

Open letter: why the EU should pledge ambitiously to the Global Partnership for Education

COVID-19 has worsened existing educational inequalities and poor-quality learning opportunities experienced by the most vulnerable children, especially girls. 24 million learners from pre-primary to tertiary education are at risk of not returning to their studies. Amongst them, the poorest and most marginalised children are most at risk. The World Bank predicts the first potential reversal in global child poverty trends since the late 1990s. At least 220 million children remain out of school today. In this context, the EU needs to champion education globally, including by committing to 560€ million pledge to the Global Partnership on Education (GPE) for the 2021-2025 period. This is in line with Commissioner Urpilainen’s ambitious engagements on education.

In advance of the G7 Leaders’ Summit this week, and the Global Education Summit taking place in July, Save the Children Europe, ONE, Oxfam, Light for the world, and Plan International sent the following open letter to European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on 3rd June:

“We are writing to you in advance of the in advance of the G7 leaders' summit in June and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) conference on 28-29 July.

As the largest driver of multilateral funding for education, a fully funded GPE is critical for realising Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the right to quality, inclusive education for the most marginalised children. Not only will the full replenishment help ensure 175 million girls and boys have access to learning, but it also has the potential to lift millions out of poverty. Education has the potential to be gender transformative, reducing gender-based violence, fostering women’s leadership and protecting millions more girls from child marriage.

Investing now in inclusive and quality education is crucial as the world is facing an unprecedented education crisis. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing structural and systematic educational inequalities and poor-quality learning faced by the most vulnerable children, especially girls. An estimated 24 million learners from pre-primary to tertiary education are at risk of not returning to their studies, with the most marginalised children at greatest risk, including girls, children with disabilities, displaced and conflict-affected children. The World Bank predicts the first potential reversal in global child poverty trends since the late 1990s. To this date, approximately 220 million children remain out of school. In this context, the EU needs to be a strong supporter of education globally, including by:

  •  Committing to pledge €560 million to the Global Partnership on Education over the course of the next 5 years. This is in line with Commissioner Urpilainen’s ambitious engagements on education, notably through the 10% earmarked funding in the new Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) – Global Europe Instrument. Delivering aid through multilateral organisations helps EU funds go further, faster, and achieve better results;
  •  Mobilising 2021 funds from the NDICI Emerging Challenges and Priorities Cushion to support the Global Challenges Window: With just €3.6 billion over the next 7 years, the Global Challenges window within the NDICI will clearly not be sufficient to fund the vital multilateral initiatives that provide the strongest and most efficient global responses to Covid-19. Funds from the NDICI cushion for 2021 must be used to support this window, which will guarantee EU aid goes further, faster, and better mitigates the impact of the pandemic. We cannot afford to prioritise short-term political priorities over strategic, long-term investments that the world and our partners need;
  • Ensuring that EU Delegations work closely with civil society organisations – both regionally and at national level – and with global initiatives such as the GPE to promote education as a public good and priority sector in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and combatting existing inequalities and harmful gender norms in accessing education. Noting that the EU has prioritised education as a focal sector in over 40 countries, the EU could also open up National Indicative Plans to co-fund GPE initiatives in countries that are eligible for support.

The international aid architecture for education requires working effectively in multistakeholder partnerships. We support the EU’s Team Europe approach which aims to ensure coordination between these initiatives at global, regional and national levels.

Getting girls and boys safely back into school should be a key part of the global strategy to recover from Covid-19. We hope that the EU can focus its efforts together with international partners on the GPE as a key vehicle to ensure that all children can access a quality and inclusive education and that more futures are not lost to this crisis."

For more information, please contact Sabela.Gonzalez@savethechildren.org.