In an open letter to party leaders in advance of the general election debate on international issues on Sky TV News tomorrow night, representatives of international charities including RESULTS along with the leadership of the UK’s three largest teaching unions urged Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg to publicly commit to keeping the UK’s promises on aid to education.
Joseph O’Reilly of the Global Campaign for Education said: “Within the UK’s overall aid budget – the size of which all three parties agree on – it is essential that we continue to set and meet specific education spending commitments. The UK is currently committed to contributing ₤1 billion annually in aid to education between now and 2015 and we are urging all three party leaders to pledge their support for this funding.
“The funding available for education depends in part on the size of our national aid envelope. With all three parties committed to providing 0.7% of national income for aid it’s now essential that we secure a commitment from them to maintain our promised funding to education internationally.
“In 2006 the UK promised to spend ₤8.5 billion on education over ten years from that date. This means that from this year the UK’s annual contribution of aid to education is due to rise to £1 billion per annum, half of which will be spent in Africa. The Education for All Global Monitoring Report estimates that the annual financing requirement is $16.2billion, so a significant increase in international funding is needed to realise the global promise to secure universal primary education. The UK’s promise of £1 billion per annum is a significant contribution in its own right and will play a vital part in mobilising financial support from other donors.
“Despite some progress, 72 million children are still out of school: the majority are girls, one third have a disability, and more than half live in fragile conflict affected states. An estimated 300 million children drop out or achieve little at school, and 760 million adults, two thirds of whom are women, still lack basic literacy skills. The best chance of securing the funding necessary to get those children into school and teaching those adults to read will be for the UK to lead the way by affirming our existing funding commitments. As a result a strong cross-party commitment to funding education internationally is essential to generating the international political will necessary to achieve a much needed breakthrough this year.”
The letter to Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg was signed by a range of Global Campaign for Education member agencies including the general secretaries of the UK’s three largest teaching unions ATL, NUT, NASUWT and representatives of various international non-government organisations including Save the Children, VSO, Oxfam RESULTS UK and Plan UK.