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Fund Education to Leverage Canadian Leadership in Gender Equality

By the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG)

Published: December 6, 2017

Education is vital to improving health, building peaceful societies, ending poverty and improving gender equality – yet despite its critical importance, global financing for education has declined in recent years, even while investment in linked areas of international development has risen. Since 2002, education’s share of official development assistance (ODA) globally has fallen from 13 to 10 percent. Its share of total ODA declined for six years in a row between 2009 and 2015, although ODA itself rose by 24% between 2008 and 2013. In 2015, Canada devoted only 7% of ODA to education.

Figure 1: Trends in sectoral ODA, US$ billions

Source: Education Commission analysis based on OECD-DAC (2016).

All stakeholders – developing country partners and donors alike – must step up their political and financial support for education. Increasing investment in education, particularly girls’ education, will accelerate progress toward the Government of Canada’s commitments made in its new Feminist International Assistance Policy, particularly in the Core Action Areas on Human Dignity and Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

Education is critical for leveraging investment in gender equality, and investments in education will bolster Canada’s $650 million investments in sexual and reproductive health and rights. Research shows that educated girls are more likely to seek and use modern forms of contraceptives as a means of preventing sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.1 Adolescents who have completed lower secondary education have been found to have a 50% lower rate of sexual health concerns than those with only a primary school education.2

A critical component of Canada’s support for global education is continued investment in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The GPE’s partnership model has been remarkable in its ability to bring stakeholders from all levels around the table to design needs-based, country-led education sector plans in a coordinated and efficient way. The GPE also works to see that the needs of girls and refugee and internally displaced children are taken into consideration right from the start.

The GPE’s greatest value-add is its ability to catalyze investments across a broad range of actors in support of education (i.e., local, domestic, bilateral, multilateral, INGOs). An important requirement of GPE support means that developing country partners must work toward investing at least 20% of their own domestic budgets into their education sector. This has significantly increased domestic resources for education in many countries, including in fragile states where the need is so great. For example, after a decade of civil war, the GPE supported Côte d’Ivoire to develop a new education sector plan, with a focus on teacher training and promoting girls’ access to education by investing in safe school facilities. The government of Côte d’Ivoire has now increased its education budget by 25%.

Support for the GPE Represents a Ready-Made Opportunity for Canadian Leadership

As the GPE gears up for its third replenishment conference, co-hosted by the Governments of France and Senegal on February 2nd, 2018, we encourage the Government of Canada to commit to investing an additional CAD $260 million in the fund from 2018-2020.

This is equal to approximately $1 for every child currently out of school. This investment should not be diverted from Canada’s other bilateral and multilateral investments in education, which further complement the work of the GPE, and should be part of an overall increase to the aid envelope.

As a coalition of international development agencies working to support policies and programs to improve access to safe, inclusive, quality education for all children and youth, the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG) calls on the Government of Canada to increase its overall investments in education, starting with a bold pledge to the Global Partnership for Education in February 2018. Achievements in gender equality require leadership in education, as women’s empowerment starts with educated, empowered girls.

Those who agree with this call are encouraged to tweet their support to Canadian political leaders. A suggested tweet is:

1Bbaale, E. & Mpuga, P. 2011. Female education, contraceptive use and fertility: Evidence from Uganda. Consilience, 6(1): 20-47.

2Patton, C. C., Sawyer, J.S. Santelli, D. Ross, A., Afi, R., Allen, N.B. & Baldwin, W. 2016. Our Future: A Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing. The Lancet, 387(10036): 2423–2478.

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