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Opinions of Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Columnist: Joseph Kingsley Eyiah

World leaders must invest well in children's education!

“Governments have the primary responsibility for their own national education programs, and some of the poorest countries have shown extraordinary vision and determination to invest more of their national budgets in education. But many countries need to invest more in education—as do donor governments, development banks, international organizations and philanthropists.”- The Global Partnership for Education (GPE)

In February, 2018, France and Senegal would be co-hosting a crucial conference on financing education in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal. The conference would be held under the auspices of The Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

It is known worldwide that, “Education is a vital human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every girl and every boy should have the right to a quality education so that they can have more chances in life, including employment opportunities, better health and also to participate in the political process.”

Obviously, education is the biggest enterprise in any civilized society. Granted the fact that education is one of the most important tool for national development it becomes the responsibility of any progressive government anywhere to provide and promote sound educational policies as well as infrastructure that will help its people to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to develop their potentials.

However, poor quality education is tantamount to no education! It has therefore been the goal of GPE to assist all countries especially developing countries to bring quality education to all children. It brings leaders of the developed as well as developing countries together to seek means of commitment to funding education globally, hence the Dakar conference. This recent financing education conference is rightly being hosted by President Macron of France (a developed nation) and President Macky Sall of Senegal (a developing country).

This is the first time a donor and developing country co-host a GPE financing conference, symbolizing the spirit of true partnership, which is the essence of GPE.

President Macron is reported to have stressed prior to the Dakar conference the importance of education as a tool to fight against poverty and inequality globally. He therefore called on world leaders to be part of this global effort to bring quality education to children around the world. "I call on the international community to join us in February 2018 in Dakar for the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference, which France will co-host with Senegal," Macron said.

The Hard Facts:

According to GPE reports, though much progress has been made, many challenges remain to ensure all children can go to school and learn. That, 1. 264 million children and youth are out of school for the school year ending in 2015

2. Only 2.7% of humanitarian aid was invested in education in 2016

3. 35% of the world's out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected countries, up from 30% in 1999

4. 62 million girls between the ages of 6 and 14 are out of school around the world

5. 4 out of 10 out-of-school children will never enter a classroom

6. An estimated 90% of children with disabilities in the developing world do not go to school

7. 54% of out-of-school children of primary school age live in sub-Saharan Africa

8. 274 million primary school children worldwide are not learning basic foundational skills necessary to lead productive and healthy lives

9. 1 in 4 young people in low and lower-middle income countries is illiterate.

The listed facts are very disturbing and need addressing by all stake holders in education. I therefore hope that the Dakar Conference would bring commitment to our world leaders to partnership with the GPE in bringing quality education to all children by 2020.