Children from Mozambique and the UK will join the President of Mozambique, Mr. Armando Guebuza and Nelson Mandela in Maputo on Monday 10 April to demand that Gordon Brown, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, and other world leaders keep their promise to get every child into school and take urgent action to solve a global teacher crisis.
The children are representing the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), which has been working since 1999 to hold governments to account to provide free quality education for all.
Brown is in Mozambique to champion education and launch a new 'Free Education For All' initiative, building on the 2005 pledges to increase aid and cancel debt. Last year at the G8, world leaders repeated a promise made in 2000 to provide a basic education for all children by 2015.
So far, over 100 million children are not in school, despite the fact that education is one of the most effective routes out of poverty. Between now and 2015 at least 15 million more teachers will be needed to ensure that all these children can enter school and guarantee millions more an education of decent quality.
A key component in achieving universal primary education is the Education for All Fast Track Initiative. Established by donors, this fund seeks to accelerate progress by giving additional aid to poor countries that have demonstrated a clear commitment to getting every child into school, including spending 20% of their budget on education.
Twenty countries, including Mozambique, have met the Fast Track conditions but none have so far been fully granted the aid they need or were promised. Mozambique has an education funding gap of US$74 million, with only US$30 million committed by foreign donors and a further US$74 million by the Mozambique treasury.
One year on from the G8 Gleneagles pledges to double aid to Africa, the Fast Track faces a US$500 million shortfall while the global funding gap for basic education is estimated to be as high as US$10 billion. The test of Gordon Brown’s latest initiative is whether it will mobilise the international community to break the funding logjam, and ensure the G8 promises translate into lasting change in some of the world’s poorest countries.
The education funding gap is felt most acutely in countries like Mozambique. Despite remarkable successes – including a rise in youth literacy since 1999 from 49% to 62%, a primary enrolment rate of over 90%, and building 6,000 schools a year – one million primary children are still out of school and an additional 55,000 teachers are needed to reach the UN-recommended ratio of 1 teacher to 40 pupils. On average there are between 50 and 70 children in each primary class.
GCE President Kailash Satyarthi, welcomes Chancellor Brown’s interest and support in this issue and the opportunity to leverage support from other donors for achieving Education For all. However, Sathyarthi urges that more must be done. "The Chancellor's initiative is welcome, but children need more than warm words. He must announce big increases in UK aid to education and particularly the Fast Track Initiative and demand that other donors do the same, to ensure that every child can go to school for free and be taught by a professional teacher."
David Archer, speaking on behalf of GCE, added "There is clearly an urgent need for more resources for achieving education goals. Aid is only part of the solution, domestic financing of education in each country remains key." Archer is the Director of Education for ActionAid International.
The UK government’s own estimates show that an additional US$10 million a year will be needed to ensure that every child can complete a primary education of good quality by 2015. Donors need to provide predictable long-term funding, and developing countries must have in place good national plans to spend it. Without the extra money, it will be impossible to reverse the world’s current appalling record on children’s education.