UK to co-host global education summit despite huge overseas aid cuts

UK to co-host global education summit despite huge overseas aid cuts
The Global Partnership for Education has set a target of raising $5 billion over the next five years, although it is reported that $210 billion is needed to tackle the current global education crisis.
2 min read
21 July, 2021
UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly says 'we can all do something' to support global education [Getty]

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, will co-host a Global Education Summit next week, aimed at extending access to education to millions of children across the world. 

The summit -  taking place from 28 and 29 July - will raise funds for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which has set a target of procuring $5 billion over the next five years to help ensure 175 million children get the opportunity to learn, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).  

The summit comes just two weeks after the UK parliament voted to cut overseas development assistance until certain fiscal conditions, laid out by the Treasury, are met. This will result in around a 40 percent slash to the education budget. 

"Now with the impact of the Covid-19 and its knock effect on learning, we are at a critical junction. Previous progress sadly is at risk of being undone, and we know that girls have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic," said UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly. 

It is estimated that a whopping $210 billion is required to tackle the shortfall in global education - which has forced many young people, particularly women, into unemployment and cycles of poverty in the Middle East and North Africa. 

"We need to see other donor countries dig deep, in fact, dig deeper than ever before," said the minister, who added that other governments, as well as international bodies, philanthropic institutions and private companies, should "play their part". 

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Cleverly said the UK will commit at least £400 million to the GPE. 

Charities, however, have expressed skepticism over the UK government's plans.

Rose Caldwell, chief executive of Plan International UK, a global children’s organisation, told The New Arab: "The reality is that without adequate funding, today’s targets and the flagship Girls’ Education Declaration will be nothing but empty promises. 

"[To be taken] seriously as a global education leader... [the UK] must increase its pledge and urgently reverse the cuts to overseas aid." 

The charity has predicted that 700,000 fewer girls will be supported by education programmes as a result of the government's aid cut.