This week, the United Kingdom and Kenya are co-hosting a two-day Global Education Summit in London, to raise $5 billion for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
Why is now such a vital time to hold this summit? During 2020, due to coronavirus, over 1.6 billion were out of school, missing vital learning and development opportunities. This is highly concerning, especially for the girls missing out on their education; as millions already were even before the pandemic struck. This means girls are missing out on being able to reach their full potential: figures from the UN show that with every additional year of primary school, girls’ eventual wages increase by 10-20 percent.
Educated girls not only support their families but also their local communities and their countries. The facts are clear: the World Bank estimates that investing in girls’ education could increase GDP by as much as 1 per cent and some countries lose more than $1 billion a year by failing to educate girls to the same level as boys. An International Labor Organization report stated, “Educating girls has proven to be one of the most important ways of breaking poverty cycles and is likely to have significant impacts on access to formal jobs in the longer term.”
As well as changing the socio economic status of a nation, educating a girl can completely change her life at an individual level. Every year 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married and girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry as children than girls with a secondary education. And, because of covid, up to 10 million more girls will be at increased risk of becoming child brides. When a girl gets married, she is usually not allowed to continue schooling and is often expected to stay at home and perform household duties, such as cleaning, cooking and childbearing- even when so many young brides are still children themselves.
That is why it is more vital now than ever that girls all over the world get the education they deserve; this is a basic human right. During the Global Education Summit, the UK and Kenya are bringing world leaders together to pledge to invest at least $5 billion in education for the world’s most vulnerable countries. The UK has already committed £430 million to support education and is leading efforts to get 40 million more girls into education globally. This is a start, but the support must continue: there were over 132 million girls out of school before covid struck. Any of those 132 million girls could change our world for the better – but only if they are given the tools and opportunities to do so.