GCE asks G8 “Live up to your potential, give everyone a chance to go to school”
On the eve of the G8 Summit, the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is uniting to call for action on aid and on basic education. Two years ago in Gleneagles, the G8 committed to increase aid by $50 billion overall by 2010. GCE is deeply concerned that, at this late stage, there is not even agreement to reiterate the 2005 commitments, desperately needed to achieve Education For All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals. Specific commitments on education seem even more remote, as the Summit becomes mired by deadlock on climate change and Russia's controversial stance on defence.
Yet campaigners press the case that global attention to education is urgently needed. GCE recently published a 'School Report', which grades rich countries' performance in giving aid to achieve EFA. It shows that aid to basic education is actually falling - and at least another $6 billion per year is needed. The report highlights that the some of the worst 'class performers' are the G8 nations. The US, Japan, Germany and Italy are the most miserly of the rich countries, collectively giving just 10% of what is needed to keep their own promises of universal education by 2015. The reports says that G8 class captain, Angela Merkel, urgently needs to pull her socks up to find the additional $472 million a year needed for Germany to be funding its 'fair share' of the costs of giving all children a decent primary education.
Just ahead of the Summit, US President George Bush made a modest announcement of extra aid to basic education - calling on Congress to fund $525 million over the next five years. Increases are long overdue; US performance has left them sitting near the bottom of GCE's 'class' in recent years. But although welcome, this diffident effort is way below what is needed to improve their class position. In fact, the US must increase aid by $2.5 billion per annum to achieve an 'A' grade in the GCE School Report. Increases on a similar scale are also needed from Germany, Japan, Italy and France.
Education is the best weapon the world has against illness, disease, poverty and conflict. With good education, in time, comes jobs, national development, growth, empowerment and prosperity. Just one year of schooling increases a woman's future earning potential by 10-20%, and if a woman completes school her children are 50% more likely to survive past the age of five. Moreover, if every child went to school seven million cases of HIV/AIDS could be prevented in the next decade.
"Every year world leaders in fancy hotels debate whether they can afford to give a tiny proportion of their national wealth to help every girl and boy get an education. But they should be thinking about the cost of inaction. Every year that progress on education is held up sees another generation condemned to hard labour, poverty, ill-health and despair. Will this create the stable global society that all nations - including the G8 - strive for?". Kailash Satyarthi (President of the Global Campaign for Education)
"In over 100 countries, millions of people of all ages have joined up to taking demand their right to go education. Now we're addressing just eight people from eight rich countries - can you do the same?"
Elie Jouen (Chair of the Global Campaign for Education)