Sir, – Education is the fundamental right of every child and is key to achieving many other important goals. Without education, what hope do we have of ending poverty, tackling climate change or achieving gender equality? Of advancing peace and security, innovating technologies and overcoming discrimination? Education provides children with the skills and knowledge they need to fulfil their potential.
At present, 264 million children globally remain out of school. Some 617 million children and adolescents globally are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and maths. Approximately 162 million school-age children in developing countries do not receive an education at post-primary level.
Ireland needs to send a message loud and clear that we view education as a priority. While Irish Aid has certainly in the past showcased its dedication to education, this seems to have waned a little in the past six years. In 2016, Ireland’s total spend on education for overseas development assistance (ODA) was approximately 11 per cent, a decrease from 15 per cent in 2011.
Plan International Ireland is calling on the Irish government to increase investment in education back to 15 per cent and address the barriers standing between children and a quality education in low-income and middle-income countries.
By funding quality education for all children and addressing the barriers preventing equal participation at school, we can enable children, especially girls, to reach their full potential and decide their own future rather than it being decided for them.
A child born to a mother who can read is 50 per cent more likely to survive past the age of five. And each extra year of a mother’s schooling reduces the probability of infant mortality by 5 per cent to 10 per cent . Education is one of the strongest antidotes to maternal risk. Women with higher levels of education are more likely to delay and space out pregnancies, and to seek health care and support.
As a country that recognises the value of education and as the adults who have benefitted from the foresight of our forebears, we should encourage the international community to invest in education in developing countries.
In early February 2018, world leaders will meet at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal, where they will make financial commitments for education over the next four years. The GPE is dedicated to helping all children access quality basic education in the world’s poorest countries. It works to see that the educational needs of girls, indigenous, refugee and internally displace children are addressed from an early stage.
Ireland should increase its annual contribution to the GPE from the current level of €4 million per annum. We should do this before the conference to catalyse a similar pledge from the larger states.
The GPE conference will give Ireland an opportunity to be heard loud and clear that education matters and turn political commitment into tangible support. Plan International Ireland believes that financing education is one of the best investments we can make. – Yours, etc,
Plan International Ireland,