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In Brussels on June 26, 2014, the Global Partnership for Education Replenishment Conference received pledges of over $28.5 billion. This is good news for both the growth of education worldwide and the Global Partnership for Education, which will use the funds to finance educational programs in over 60 developing countries. Nigeria, with over 10.5 million school-aged children not in school, will be among those helped.

This $28.5 billion gain shows a growing consensus from the international community on the importance of education in the developing world. Currently, 57 million school-aged children are not in school, and consequently, are not receiving an education. A further 250 million children worldwide cannot count, read or write despite receiving four years of schooling. These are the statistics that the GPE and its donors are fighting against.

The Global Partnership of Education, established in 2002, is an amalgamation of developing nations, donor governments, international aid organizations and civil societies. This multilateral partnership’s mission statement explains they, “galvanize and coordinate a global effort to deliver a good quality education, to all girls and boys, prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable.” They do this by helping increase funding for a developing country’s education budget, as well as by helping develop and establish educational programs for these countries.

The work the GPE has accomplished prior to the convention in Brussels is quite formidable. In GPE partner countries, the rate of out-of-school children has decreased from 39 percent in 2000 to 24 percent in 2011. Furthermore, during the same time frame, they have also had a growth in students’ completion of primary school, jumping from 56 percent to 74 percent. In addition, they have shown a strong financial commitment to the countries involved, investing more than $3 billion in the educational funds of its developing nation partners from 2000 to 2011.

The replenishment conference, which took place in Brussels, is part of a second replenishment period that GPE is entering into. During this time, the GPE is looking to receive funds to help finance upcoming projects and initiatives from 2015 to 2018. The expected outcome of this replenishment conference was $16 billion in pledged funds to the GPE from their developing nation partners, and the GPE was pleasantly surprised to find that they had received $26 billion in pledges instead.

Also, during the conference, donor countries pledged $2.1 billion to the GPE, over half of the GPE’s $3.5 billion objective for donor countries, during the whole of their replenishment period. Notable donor countries included the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

At this same conference, for the first time, private sector entities pledged funds to the GPE. These private sector entities were CIFF (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation) and Dubai Cares. Both are philanthropic organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children across the world.

With this large amount of money pledged at the conference, the Global Partnership for Education is hoping to achieve a multitude of notable goals for their developing nation partners. Among them are: supporting the annual school cost of 29 million children attending primary and secondary school, reducing the number of children dropping out of primary school from 7.6 million to 4.8 million, reducing the drop out rates of lower secondary schools by 10 percent during the same time frame and increasing the amount of children with core literacy and numerical skills by 25 percent, from 16 million to 20 million.

Recognizing the current gender bias in many parts of the world, GPE hopes to increase the primary school completion of girls from 74 percent to 84 percent, and increase secondary school completion from 44 percent to 54 percent for developing countries during the years 2014 to 2018.

These are admirable goals from an admirable organization. The fact that this replenishment has started with such a huge investment from those involved, shows the international community’s belief that GPE can achieve these goals in the developing nations involved. As the former Australian Prime Minister, and current Board Chair of the GPE, said about the conference, “This exceptional result is a vote of confidence in the power of education to lift the lives of millions of children.”

– Albert Cavallaro

Sources: all Africa, Global Partnership 1, Dubai Cares, CIFF, Global Partnership 2, Global Partnership 3, Global Partnership 4