At Global Education Summit in London on 29 July, the European Union and its Member States, as Team Europe, pledged €1.7 billion to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to help transform education systems for more than one billion girls and boys in up to 90 countries and territories. This represents the biggest contribution to the GPE. The EU had already announced its €700 million pledge for 2021-2027 in June.
The EU was represented at the summit by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships. Their interventions highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children's education worldwide, and the determination of the EU and its Member States to act.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said: “Education is the most basic infrastructure for human development. Reading, writing, math, logic, digital skills, understanding our life. No matter on which continent you live. Education should be a truly universal right. That is why the European Union invests in international cooperation for education more than the rest of the world combined. And we are stepping up efforts in these extraordinary times.”
Team Europe for global education
EU support to education is focused on ensuring quality, equality and equity, and on matching skills and jobs. This means in particular:
Investing in well-trained and motivated teachers that can equip children with the right mix of skills needed in the 21st century. At least 69 million new teachers will have to be recruited by 2030 for primary and secondary education, including more than 17 million in Africa.
Investing in equality, and in particular promoting girls' education and leveraging the potential of digital innovations. Educating and empowering girls is a key aspect of the EU Gender Action Plan III, which aims to curb the rise of inequalities in the context of the pandemic, and accelerate progress on gender equality and women's empowerment.
Investing in skills for the future, to prepare future professionals, business leaders and decision-makers for the green and the digital transformation.
The Team Europe approach of the EU and its Member States creates scale, coordination, and focus that help maximise joint impact in providing education opportunities for every child.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a global learning crisis, with an estimated 617 million children between the ages of 6–14 worldwide unable to achieve minimum proficiency levels in reading, and adolescents failing to develop the skills needed for the 21st century. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) underlines that COVID-19 has reversed much of recent progress in improving access to education and gender parity. Furthermore, it has aggravated the learning crisis with huge increases in inequalities, digital divide, and psychological and mental issues.
The Global Education Summit: Financing GPE 2021-2025
The Global Education Summit is a replenishment conference for the GPE, the only global partnership for education that brings together representatives of all education stakeholder groups including partner countries, donors, international organisations, civil society groups, foundations and the private sector.
The GPE, hosted by the World Bank, provides financial support to low-income and lower-middle-income countries — especially those with high numbers of out-of-school children and significant gender disparities. Most funding is allocated to Sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2014-20, the EU and its Member States accounted for more than half of all contributions to the GPE.
Source: European Commission Press Corner