Developing countries have made huge strides in expanding schooling in recent decades, so that most children are now able to access primary education. The UK has contributed to this impressive achievement: between 2015 and 2017, we supported over 7 million children, including in some of the toughest places in the world.
However, the world is still facing a learning crisis—half of the world’s children are expected to finish primary school without learning basic numeracy and literacy. This amounts to around 387 million children who will not be able to fulfil their potential.
We have a moral obligation to help every child get a decent education—but it is also firmly in the UK’s national interest. Educated populations are an essential element of prosperous and stable countries which will be the UK’s future trading partners.
The UK is a world leader in support for education in developing countries and, together with France, we have designated 2018 as the global year of learning.
DFID’s new education policy, which I am launching today, sets out my three priorities for action to ensure more children are learning the basics:
We will support efforts to drive up the quality of teaching in developing countries. Skilled, reliable teachers need to be the norm everywhere.
We will support education systems to stand on their own two feet, using resources effectively to ensure children learn.
We will prioritise children with disabilities, children affected by crises and hard-to-reach girls. During this global year of learning, I will also be drawing attention to other aspects of the learning crisis. At the disability summit in July I will highlight the plight of children with disabilities; at UNGA in September, I will call on Governments to stamp out violence against children in school; and at the World Bank annual meetings in October, I will focus on the role that education plays in driving human capital and prosperity.
Today I can confirm that the UK will boost its contribution to £75 million per year for each of the next three years to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This will be an almost 50% increase in our annual contribution to the GPE and demonstrates our determination to show leadership internationally to get children learning. This funding will provide quality education to 880,000 children each year. Our investment will be used to drive improved performance and efficiency and we have capped our investment at 15% of the overall GPE budget. This new commitment comes in addition to the vital work of DFID directly through its sizeable bilateral programmes on education.
I am proud too of the role the UK is playing globally and proud to lead a Department which is dedicated to making a difference in children’s lives.
A copy of the policy document will be placed in the Library of the House for the availability of Members.