[Check Against Delivery]
European Commissioner for Development
Opening speech at the Brussels Global Partnership for Education Pledging Conference
Global Partnership for Education Second Replenishment Pledging conference
Brussels, 26 June 2014
Your Royal Highness,
Prime Minister Ponyo,
Special Envoy Gordon Brown,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very proud to be hosting this conference today, and I would take this opportunity to give my personal thanks to Julia Gillard, her team, and to my services at EuropeAid for the hard work that has gone into organising today’s event.
Nelson Mandela said that “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world”.
As a former teacher I can only echo this. Moreover, the GPE and the EU share the ambition of giving all children a decent education, providing equal opportunities for girls and boys and for disadvantaged children, and improving quality overall. In doing this we take a huge step forward in permanently alleviating poverty and injustice.
Whilst there has been good progress towards the education MDGs, 57 million children worldwide are still out of primary school - more than half are in sub-Saharan Africa. Millions in school are learning little. Millions more again cannot read or write. In some places girls are under attack simply for wanting to go to school.
Today our thoughts are with those 200 or more girls held captive in Nigeria. Denying children - girls in particular - their basic right to an education is unacceptable. The open letter I have signed with President Barroso, Julia Gillard and other eminent figures makes this crystal clear.
Since 2004, the European Commission has helped more than 13 million children enrol in primary schools and more than 1.2 million teachers improve their qualifications.
I couldn’t be more proud of what Europe is doing for children across the world, especially in these testing times. But we need to redouble our efforts. Donor support for education - and for the GPE Fund in particular - is as vital as ever.
The road towards reaching the target of 3.5 billion dollars for the GPE Fund over 4 years starts here.
So I’m very pleased to announce today that the European Union is pledging to more than double its contribution to the GPE Fund to 375 million euro - that’s over half a billion US dollars - over the next 7 years, up to 2020.
Alongside this we will be allocating over 1 billion euro from our bilateral programmes to education in partner countries where the GPE is also operating.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would particularly like to commend the many partner countries that will be pledging domestic financing for education today. They are taking on their responsibility for financing quality education for their children.
Education matters to people worldwide. When asked about their aspirations and priorities for the post-2015 development framework the world is seeking to shape, they put education top of the list.
They know that in providing every child with a decent education, we are paving the way for more equal, wealthier and safer world.