Educating all girls everywhere is one of the smartest investments we can make

Helen Grant
Helen Grant (Photo:
I’m on a mission. It is a tragic fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the biggest disruptors of education around the world in history, forcing 1.6 billion children and youth out of school at its peak and exacerbating the existing learning crisis. Girls living in developing countries have been disproportionately affected, put at a greater risk of gender-based violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation. We are now facing a lost generation of girls who may never start or return to school.اضافة اعلان

My mission is to get these girls into school and learning. Educating all girls everywhere is not just the right thing to do, it is one of the smartest investments we can make to lift people out of poverty, grow economies, save lives, and build back better from COVID-19. A child whose mother can read is 50 percent more likely to live beyond the age of five years, and twice as likely to attend school themselves. They are also 50 percent more likely to be immunized.

On June 11, 2021, G7 leaders agreed ambitious global targets to get more girls into school and learning, and pledged to increase their support to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in time for the Global Education Summit, being co-hosted by the UK and Kenya in July. The UK announced a commitment of £430 million. This is the largest pledge the UK has ever made to GPE — an increase of 15 percent from our previous annual pledge — testament to the UK’s commitment to this game-changing issue.

This crucial investment will provide real, practical support to the 1.1 billion children in the 90 lower-income countries that the GPE work in over the next five years.

From my recent visits to Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone, I’ve seen the barriers girls face to education — be it the lack of proper facilities stopping girls who are menstruating from going to school as they are unable to wash, heavy rain causing flooding in schools, rendering them too dangerous, or young mothers forced to abandon their education to look after their children. In time, GPE aims to train 2.2 million more teachers, build 78,000 new classrooms and buy 512 million textbooks, transforming education opportunities for children in the world’s poorest countries.

Nelson Mandela said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” and he was right. Quality education transforms not just the lives of girls, but whole communities and nations. Over the last 19 years, GPE has contributed to the largest expansion of primary and lower-secondary schooling in history. It is a partnership made up of world experts in the field of education. This is why the UK is partnering with Kenya to host the landmark Global Education Summit in London next month, bringing together international leaders, business, civil society and international organizations to raise vital funds for the GPE. It’s not just about the target of raising $5 billion over five years; uniting the world’s brightest minds and best innovators at the summit will also drive change on some of the biggest challenges we face like climate change and world health.

But the work to get all girls access to 12 years of quality education does not stop in July. The G7 has adopted the UK’s ambitious goals of getting 40 million more girls in school, and 20 million more girls reading by age ten, or at the end of primary school, in low- and middle-income countries by 2026. The Global Education Summit is an important milestone in this ambition, but we need all countries to step up and match the UK’s leadership if we are to achieve these goals.

The UK is proud to be an advocate for girls’ education in Jordan. Since 2016, we have supported 70,000 Syrian girls access quality education each year, and 175,000 Jordanian and refugee girls through improvements in early grade teaching and learning.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how interconnected we all are. Girls’ education is no different. It matters to us all. By boosting girls’ access to education, together, we will turbocharge a better, safer, healthier world for everyone.

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