Julia Gillard’s new role as champion for Global Education

Former Australian Prime Minister Ms Julia Gillard has been appointed Board Chair of The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the only multilateral partnership devoted to providing the world’s poorest children a quality education.

The announcement comes at a time when 57 million primary school-aged children worldwide are still not in school, and many more children who are in school are failing to acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Education remains out of reach for many children across the Asia-Pacific region, and girls, children in conflict-ridden countries, and children withdisabilities, are most affected by this current education and learning crisis.

Over 8 million children are not enrolled in school in East Asia and in Papua New Guinea the education net enrolment rate is only 53 per cent.

“RESULTS congratulates Julia Gillard onher newposition and we are convinced that with her experience as a political leader and as aneducation reformer she will make an excellent contribution to the important work GPE does,” Maree Nutt, Chief Executive Officer of the grassroots advocacyorganisation, RESULTS International (Australia), said.

The Global Partnership for Education provides funding to support the development and implementation of high-quality education sector plans in the world’spoorestcountries.

With close to 60 partner countries, GPE has in the last10 years assisted low incomecountries to enroll 22 million children in school, construct over 53,000 classrooms, and train more than 300,000 teachers.

Despite the proven importance of education both from a human rights and economic perspective, global education funding is decreasing. Both former Labor Governments and current Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop have described education as a central pillar of Australia’s foreign aid program.

In June this year the Global partnership for Education will call on international donors like Australia to commit funds to drive the partnership’s increasingly important work over the next four years.

With the potential of more aid budget cuts, the test will be whether the Coalition Government will also be as generous a donor to the GPE.

“RESULTS calls on the Australian government to continue to show leadership in overcoming the global education crisis by pledging $100million per year to GPE over the next four years,” Ms Nutt said.

“Leveraging Julia Gillard’s expertise and position as GPE Board Chair, Australia is ideally positioned to increase its impact and ensure funds are contributing to the development and implementation of quality, country-owned, and sustainable national education plans and systems,” Maree added.

One extra year of schooling increases an individual’s earnings by 10 to 20 per cent. Investing in education is the single most effective means of reducing poverty.