Recent headlines about the kidnapping of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist organization Boko Haram has refocused worldwide attention toward the importance of education in developing countries. Today, there about 57 million children worldwide that do not get access to basic education, and girls are those most affected. In Africa, one out of every four girls does not have access to primary education.

Ahead of the two-day conference on Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging, held in Brussels, Belgium, on June 25, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) urged donors to pledge funding in support of the importance of education initiatives in poor countries. This statement results from great concern due to the drop in funding for education, especially when there are still so many children lacking access to basic schooling.

In some countries, this is due to a lack of resources and extreme poverty, and in others this comes in the form of extremist traditional views against educating children, especially girls. According to the statement released by UNESCO, it is imperative to reverse current funding for educating the poor. It even goes as far to say that if current trends are not reversed, the 2030 global education goals will not be met.

The statement released by UNESCO also reemphasizes a point made by many education advocates: “education is a long-term investment, not an expense venture and we owe it to the children of the world, particularly the poorest and most marginalized.” This message resonates with the notion that education is a moral imperative and that it is in the best interest of advanced and developing nations to pledge funding in support for this worthy cause.

In addition, UNESCO’s statement pointed to the fact that donors were rescinding their commitment to global education. With a drop of 10 percent in the flow of aid toward education, it is being downgraded in the list of development priorities.

Industrialized nations are being urged by the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging to up their donations from the last time this request was made. In 2011, when this request was last made, the United States pledged $20 million. While this may seem like a considerable donation, smaller countries like Denmark and the Netherlands donated 10, and even 20 times that amount. This should serve as a reminder that in this round of pledges, the U.S. and other powerful nations are capable of producing larger donations.

Sahar Abi Hassan

Sources: Business Day, The Toledo Blade