As the World Cup ended on Sunday, leaders from across Africa gathered along with donor countries for a 1GOAL Education Summit to promote progress towards getting all children in Africa completing primary school. As people around the world start to come down from the high of the World Cup, the 1GOAL campaign hopes to focus this moment to ensure that education is the legacy of South Africa’s triumphant hosting of the first World Cup in Africa. So far, over 14 million people have signed up to 1GOAL – you can join the call for education for all by filling in the form on the RESULTS homepage at www.results-uk.org
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa hosted the summit, which was attended, among others, by President Wulff of Germany and the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell MP. That Andrew Mitchell travelled to South Africa to attend the summit is testament to the activities of 1GOAL supporters in the UK. Over 9,000 schools – representing over a million children and more than a third of the UK’s schools – took part in 1GOAL activities through ‘Send My Friend to School’ over the last two months. The students were joined by thousands of adults across the country who signed up online to support 1GOAL, as well as RESULTS activists who wrote directly to the Prime Minister to highlight the campaign and the importance of education for all during our June action.
The main outcome of the summit was a statement calling on the international community to scale up efforts to ensure education for all is achieved by 2015. You can read the full statement here, but key passages include the following:
“Business as usual” will leave an estimated 56 million children out of school and 710 million adults without basic literacy skills in 2015. This is not acceptable and we call on the world community to give new impetus to education and scale up efforts to reach the MDG education targets. But getting more children into school is not sufficient. We have to make sure that students are leaving school with the necessary learning and life skills to enter adult life and the work force…
The current global [financial] environment should not serve as a justification for reduced political and financial commitments to education. The estimated US$16 billion financing gap to reach basic education goals in low-income countries amounts to only a fraction of recent financial rescue packages. Collectively, we have the capacity to close the EFA global financing gap and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide.
Although there were no pledges of further funds at the summit, it was encouraging that the statement was so strongly worded and the message of the summit was clear throughout: governments in the developing and developed world need to act to solve this issue. Aaron Mokoena, the Captain of South Africa’s football team and a 1GOAL ambassador, told delegates:
The number of children out of school is 72 million, that is more than the primary school children in Europe and USA combined. Many more children drop out of school…to tackle this governments need to act…Between now and the next World Cup you have the power to get every child in the world in to school but only if we act and you act. Agree a plan for your country by the time of the UN meeting in September. Please let us live in a world where every boy and girl have access to education.
In an interview with the Telegraph following the summit, Andrew Mitchell said that Britain would continue to fund and support the campaign for universal primary education around the world but that it could not increase its spending without saving elsewhere. He added that all governments should reassess their spending priorities and if Britain were to modify its plans for two new aircraft carriers, it could single-handedly achieve the aim of 1GOAL to supply everyone in the world with access to education. This is the closest that Mr Mitchell has come so far to confirming the UK plan to continue, and possibly to increase, their funding of education in the developing world, which currently supports 5 million children in school.
As 1GOAL said in a press release following the summit, ‘The World Education Summit is an important first step but the major breakthrough on education funding needs to come at the UN Summit in September. 1GOAL is calling on donors to quadruple funding on education from $4 billion to $16 billion per year.’ It is crucial that the UK use the opportunity of the UN Millennium Development Goal Summit to announce their spending plans for education for all and to push other countries, such as the USA, France and Germany, who are all seriously behind on funding high-quality education in the poorest countries (see our recent post on the Global Campaign for Education’s School Report), to sort out their contributions.
Schools and individuals around the country continue to use the 1GOAL campaign to push our politicians to support this crucial action. Among the MPs who have visited local schools for 1GOAL events are some very important figures. Here is what two of them had to say about 1GOAL:
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg told learners at Mylnhurst School in Sheffield:
I am delighted to visit Mylnhurst School to support the 1GOAL – Send My Friend to School initiative. This wonderful initiative does a brilliant job in highlighting the need to provide a decent standard of education for all children, no matter where they live in the world. Every child who is involved in this campaign should be incredibly proud of speaking up on behalf of those who are less fortunate than themselves and championing access to education for all.
Foreign Secretary William Hague travelled to Bedale High School in North Yorkshire and told pupils:
This is a great campaign and I’m very proud that the pupils in Bedale have all taken part and with such enthusiasm. We will do our very best to extend primary education to every child in the world.
Following the summit, 1GOAL have produced a fantastic video detailing the 1GOAL campaign in South Africa so far which you can watch below: