Reason #4: The GPE improves education systems

Over eight weeks, RESULTS affiliates in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the U.S. delve deeper into 8 key reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education. Today, RESULTS Canada’s Julie Savard-Shaw explores Reason #4.

You can read the blog about Reason #1, by RESULTS Australia’s Camilla Ryberg, the blog about Reason #2, by RESULTS UK’s Dan Jones, and the blog about Reason #3, by RESULTS U.S. Allison Grossman.

Click here to read the full RESULTS report Greater Impact Through Partnership: 8 Reasons to Invest in the Global Partnership for Education Now More Than Ever.

This week, I explore reason #4, which looks at how the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) mobilizes developing country resources towards their own education system. This is an especially critical piece in our broader campaign in the lead-up to the June pledging conference. It allows us to show our governments in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US how the Global Partnership’s co-financing model can actually increase the impact of education programs, if donors reach GPE’s $3.5 billion replenishment target.

As education advocates, our goal is to see all children in the poorest and most remote regions of the world have access to quality basic education. Literacy is the necessary condition for a country to escape extreme poverty and to eventually reduce its dependency on aid. Indeed, the social rate of return from completing primary education in low-income countries is very high. This means that the benefits of having more education outweigh the costs of obtaining that education. For example, each additional year of schooling raises a country’s average annual gross domestic product growth by 0.37 percent and a child whose mother can read is 50 percent more likely to live past the age of five.

Achieving universal literacy requires that developing country governments be able and willing to assure the supply of quality education services. This often requires the assistance of industrialized countries. At the same time, many donors are skeptical of developing country governments’ willingness to monitor and maintain reasonable education standards, without which education investment achieves little.

The GPE builds the capacity of partner developing country governments to deliver quality basic education to their citizens through Local Education Groups (LEGs). Headed by partner governments, these groups also include international organizations like GPE, civil society and the private sector. Members of the group provide financial and technical assistance for the developing country partner to develop and implement their education plan.

By developing realistic policies and a feasible implementation plan based on the country context, education goals are more likely to be reached, which in turn motivates developing country partners to invest more in the education sector. Public expenditure on education in developing country partners has grown from 3.9 percent of GDP in 2000 to 4.8 percent of GDP in 2011. The GPE’s success to build the local government’s capacity through LEGs is even more apparent when we look at the resources invested in education for developing countries that are not part of the GPE. Between 2000 and 2011, of all the resources invested in education for one country, GPE developing countries increased their own investment by 15 percent whereas developing countries that are not part of the GPE only increased their spending by 6 percent.

The Government of Ethiopia joined the GPE in 2004 and received two GPE grants in 2007 and 2010 totaling US$168 million to support the country’s General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP), an important part of its Education Sector Development Plan for 2010-2015. Since joining the GPE, the Government of Ethiopia has increased public expenditure as a share of GDP by 28 percent. The GEQIP is financed by national resources supplemented with pooled external funding, of which the Global Partnership contributed some 50 percent.

Through it’s partnership with the GPE, Ethiopia has made significant strides in getting more children in school. Enrollment in primary school increased from 75 percent in 2007 to 86 percent in 2011, with the percentage of children finishing primary school increasing from 48 percent to 58 percent over the same period.

With adequate financing, the GPE will support 29 million children to go to school in 66 GPE eligible countries. Moreover, drawing on a fully funded Global Partnership (US$3.5 billion) developing country partners will be able to leverage an additional US$16 billion for domestic education expenditures for 2015-2018 to further broaden access, boost quality, and ensure relevant learning for all children and youth.

Investing in the GPE is essential to ensure that developing countries break out of the vicious circle of extreme poverty and aid dependency. As Nelson Mandela said, “ No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated.”

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