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Developing countries show bold commitments towards education financing

Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 11.22.23 PMDakar, Senegal: This year’s GPE Replenishment conference could be a profoundly significant turning point in education financing. GCE commends the decisive leadership of host country President Macky Sall who pledged to increase the share of education spending to 25% and also contributed US$2million dollars to the replenishment fund. Senegal becomes the first developing country partner to contribute to the fund, showing dedication to improving education both domestically and globally. We also celebrate co-host French President Macron’s leadership in putting education at the top of his foreign policy and aid agenda, making a pledge of €200million as the commitment to GPE.

The most important commitments from the conference were those from developing countries which amounted overall to approximately US$30bn in new funding. GCE President Camilla Croso commented:

GCE is optimistic about the replenishment, and urges all GPE partners and member states to use the momentum to follow through on their commitments and enact positive change in education.

Additionally, GCE welcomes the contributions of the EU, UK, France, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The amount pledged by these countries alone came to nearly US$1.8billion. New GPE member state United Arab Emirates (UAE) is also to be congratulated for a strong initial contribution of US$100million. The total pledged by donors for this replenishment period was just over US$2bn. This figure is well above what was pledged in 2014.

On developing country partner pledges, even with the new and significant commitments made today, it is not enough to stem the education crisis. Globally 264 million children and young people remain out of school, most of whom are girls, and 617 million children are in school but fail to learn basic skills owing to the poor quality of education they receive. More financing is urgently required to ensure SDG 4 is met in a timely manner.

A real breakthrough in education financing will require significant new domestic resources – and that necessitate tax justice. Illicit financial flows, tax evasion and avoidance as well as harmful tax incentives must be stopped. On this, Croso said: "The cornerstone of education financing is tax justice.” The case for this was powerfully made by the Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo at the event: “Money is available on the continent to fund education for this goal, we must eliminate corruption and illicit financial flows."

GCE particularly commends the Norwegian delegates to the conference, who not only increased their current contribution by 40%, but also, as their delegate said, “committed to ramping up support to countries wanting to expand their tax base.” Multilevel support for progressive tax systems is central to global sustainable development, and to the achievement of education for all.

The GCE and all its members are committed to tracking the pledges over the coming three years. We need to see these funds arrive where they are most needed, and to ensure they are sensitively spent to advance inclusion, equity and quality in public education systems.