Significant strides were made to #FundEducation at the Global Citizen Festival Mandela 100’ this week, totaling just over US$ 1.7 billion.
It is often said that 2019 is the year of education: SDG 4 is going to be reviewed for the first time at the High-level Political Forum, while major decisions are anticipated on the international education aid architecture. These prospects are creating a sense of momentum.
This week, celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela, Global Citizen with the Mostepe Foundation and the House of Mandela hosted a fundraising festival for multiple sectors, education included. Below are some of the largest commitments announced during the event.
New commitments were announced by Germany for GPE of 19 million euros, and by Canada for Education Cannot Wait of 50 million Canadian dollars. The government of Kenya committed to spend close to 30%, almost double the regional average, and Sierra Leone 21.5% of its budgets on education.
President of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta said: “Today, I respond to the many global citizens who have called upon my administration to maintain its education budget above 20% of our total budget, but I want to go one step further, and this year, I pledge to you, my fellow global citizens, that in Kenya, our education budget will be closer to 30% of our total budget, making it probably the highest on the African continent.”
The 2019 GEM Report showed that low-income countries cannot rely upon donors to fund their education systems. As the graph here shows, almost 60% of spending on education in low- income countries comes from governments, with only just over 10% coming from donors.
His Excellency, Julius Maada Bio, the President of Sierra Leone said: “Official Development Assistance is welcome, but it is not infinite. We have to first rely on ourselves. By investing our own African resources in free, quality teaching and learning, we are investing in our human capital and empowering our youth to be the generation that will end poverty in our time.”
An announcement also came from South Sudan, which will be devoting an additional 5% of the annual budget to education in training for civil servants. The Minister present also announced that the country hopes to allocate more than 10% of its annual budget in 2019 – aiming to increase to 15% in the next five years.
“Going to school should not be a lottery. Education is even more critical in conflict-affected countries like South Sudan. Our President, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, signed the Peace Agreement in September. Now, we can transform South Sudan. Let us take action to end poverty and to change the lives of the children of the world”, said Deng Deng Hoc Yai, Honourable Minister of General Education and Instruction, South Sudan.
Continuing on its positive announcement for funding Education Cannot Wait made at the global launch event for the 2019 GEM Report in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel also announced via a video message to double Germany’s contribution to the Global Partnership for Education.
“We want to work with Africa in a spirit of partnership to offer its young population good prospects for the future. With this in mind, we have just launched the development investment fund here in Berlin. We hope to raise up to a billion euros through this fund. A person’s chances in life are determined above all by their access to education, to training, and to employment. For this reason, Germany has this year doubled its contributions to the global Education Cannot Wait fund to 31 million euros and to the Global Partnership for Education to 18 million euros. Next year, we will turn this 18 million euros into 37 million euros.” said Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany.
And, announced via a tweet to the moderating comedian, Trevor Noah, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau also committed new funds to Education Cannot Wait, totaling CAD $50 million
Outside of governments, other announcements came from the World Bank, which announced an additional $1 billion next year for health and education in Africa. “The lack of investment in health and education is a global emergency and my generation has failed you…You have to call on your leaders to invest more in health and education. Raise your voice.” said Dr. Jim Kim, President of the World Bank
Private foundations also helped maintain the momentum. Managing Director of HP Inc., Nigeria Ify Afe announced that with partners like the UN Industrial Development Organization, it has established technology-enabled innovation centers in Africa so that entrepreneurs are able to learn the skills needed to build a business or to find employment. “We begin right here in Johannesburg, where we are building our next iHP LIFE Center,” he said. “I am inspired by our common goal, by every one person who’s a part of the Global Citizen movement.”
Cisco’s Networking Academy, which provides training on 21st century skills, committed to preparing 10 million people worldwide to work and thrive in the digital economy over 5 years. And the Trevor Noah Foundation pledged to match every dollar donated to the Foundation up until 2 million South African rand for a month.
It is just possible that the tide for education funding is turning. We hope so.