Yesterday the APPG on Global Education for All, a group of parliamentarians working to promote education for all around the world which RESULTS supports by providing a Secretariat, were visited by Carol Bellamy. Carol is Chair of the Board of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI).
The FTI is a global education partnership between donor and developing countries, which provides roughly $300 million annually in grant funding for national education strategies in low income countries. It is one of the leading international forums helping to achieve education for all, and is based on a ‘compact’ of mutual accountability. Under these agreements developing nations are responsible for taking ownership of crafting national education plans, with budget accountability and a greater commitment of political and financial resources, while donor countries commit to providing the additional technical know-how and funding required. This is designed to ensure that no country that has met its obligations would fail for lack of resources or technical capacity.
Carol talked about the importance of members of parliament in the FTI’s donor nations raising the profile of education for all. She said that while there is justifiable pride in the progress that has been made on education for all, with 67 million children still out of school there is still a long way to go and it is crucial that international community does not become complacent about current levels of investment in education. Education is the root of progress in poverty reduction and a critical input into improving health in the developing world, particularly women’s health. With the very welcome strong emphasis on maternal health coming from the Millennium Development Goal Summit in September and particularly from the UK government, it’s important to recognise the role played by education in achieving progress in these areas.
Members of the APPG also discussed the plight of children with disabilities, who are the group most likely to be excluded from education in the developing world. An estimated 90% of the 6 million children with low vision in the world are not able to attend school. The FTI has developed an ‘Equity and Inclusion Guide’ designed to help partner governments to address issues of exclusion such as disability. This is used to support the development of education sector plans under the FTI ‘endorsement process’ by which countries’ comprehensive plans for achieving education for all are approved by the FTI and become eligible for funding from the FTI’s trust funds.
When the Fast Track Initiative was launched in 2002, it was widely seen as a catalyst for accelerated progress towards Education for All. Significant positive results have been achieved through FTI investments – for example 19 million more children enrolled in school in FTI countries between 2002 and 2008, and more than 300,000 additional teachers were hired in FTI countries during the same period – but the annual funding gap for education for all remains huge at over $13 billion. As the number of FTI partner countries increases following recent reforms, future demand on the FTI’s resources is likely to climb to $1 billion a year.