129.The world faces an enormous challenge in trying to meet SDG4 and ensure access to quality and inclusive education for all. The number of out of school children of primary school age dropped from 99 million in 2000 to 60 million in 2007, but progress has stalled since then. Huge numbers of children are also in school but not learning, with six out of ten children and teenagers in the world failing to reach basic levels of proficiency in learning according to a recent UN report. It will require an unprecedented push from the international community to address gaps in funding, to improve learning outcomes and to find ways to get the most marginalised children into school. Education systems in countries around the world should be strengthened.
130.DFID has stated that it is a global leader on education. In order to demonstrate and maintain this, the Government should lead by example through: replenishment for the Global Partnership for Education; continuing to support the Education Cannot Wait fund; and finding ways to support the International Financing Facility for Education. There is a golden opportunity in DFID’s refreshed education policy to affirm its commitment to increased and sustainable levels of funding for global education and demonstrate how it will work across Government to achieve results for education around the world.
131.This should include greater clarity and implementation on programmes targeting girls, disabled children and children in crisis-affected communities, as well as other marginalised groups.
132.DFID’s Value for Money (VfM) framework makes sense in ensuring that the British taxpayer is not supporting ineffective programmes. However, this framework should not compromise the aim of reaching marginalised groups, and the Department’s VfM strategy as it related to education should be clarified.
133.DFID’s support for low-fee private schools is controversial, and it is imperative that the Department fully reviews available evidence when considering future support for such initiatives. DFID’s support is primarily given to free government schools, in order to reach the maximum numbers of children, and we envisage this continuing.
134.To take full advantage of the lifelong impact of education, it is important to focus on early years education, when a child’s brain is developing. This is especially vital in crisis-affected communities, where external stress can hamper the development of a child and have a significant lasting impact. DFID does not apportion enough of its budget to pre-primary education, and needs to do more work in this area.
135.The Department should make rational, evidence based decisions when supporting global education, and a greater focus on politically informed programming through education advisers and support for data and research on what works will have the greatest impact.
136.Ultimately, if the aim of Sustainable Development Goal 4, to “leave no one behind” is to be achieved, DFID should continue leading by example, stepping up where necessary, so that no child is denied this basic human right.
17 November 2017