I agree that this is an important issue and I know that it will be of concern to many people in our area.
I am fully committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal Four to ensure inclusive and quality education for all. Access to education ensures that people have an opportunity to get the best start in life. It provides hope and empowerment to those who receive it. It is a vital tool in ending poverty and improving health outcomes. Importantly, it is also essential to tackling gender inequality by empowering girls.
The UK has a proud history as a world leader in helping to transform the global education agenda. In the last 15 years, UK aid has supported 11 million children through education and we remain one of the biggest donors to education internationally. However, according to UNESCO the gap in the level of global funding necessary to achieve Goal Four is $39 billion per year. More than 263 million children worldwide, including around 130 million girls, are not in school, while hundreds of millions more are not learning due to the poor quality of their education. It is therefore vital that the Government continues to demonstrate the UK’s leadership on this issue and steps up as a strong advocate for global education.
As you know, the next replenishment conference for GPE, which funds, and galvanises global and national support for, education in developing countries, takes place in February 2018. The House of Commons International Development Committee (IDC) has called for the Government to provide the full amount of funding requested by GPE and to encourage other donors to increase their spending in this area. I support the IDC’s recommendations. The UK has been one of the largest donors to GPE – increasing our support will further highlight the UK’s continuing commitment to global education, particularly for left-behind and vulnerable groups such as girls and people with disabilities, as well as encouraging other international donors to follow suit.
I can assure you that I will continue to support positive action on this issue.