Sue Packham | Australian Financial Review | 20 April 2017

I’d encourage the government, which has cut $11 billion from the aid budget over the past four years, to spare a thought for the 57 million children worldwide who can’t go to school, and the further 250 million who leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.

In 2015, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said: “Education is a central pillar of the Australian aid program. It is integral to developing engaged citizens who are able to contribute to their communities and influence decision-making.”

And historically Australian aid has worked, particularly for children in our region. Since 2008, we contributed $US303 million to the Global Partnership for Education – a multilateral organisation that co-ordinates a global effort to deliver quality education, prioritising the poorest and most vulnerable. Between 2005 and 2014 the GPE allocated $US1.7billion in our Indo-Pacific region, contributing to measurable improvements. For example, Cambodia has increased its domestic education funding by 23.5 per cent. In Lao 95 per cent of children completed primary education in 2012, up from 75per cent in 2008.  Reinstating this type of aid program would help more children start school in our region – a result of which we could all feel proud.


Sue Packham

Woolamai (VIC)