Girl in Nigeria
Image courtesy of GCE UK / Martin Godwin

“The Millennium Development Goals have left behind millions of forgotten children. Had they tackled educational inequality 9 million more children could now be in school in Nigeria and Pakistan alone.”

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) UK today launched a new report in Parliament at an event organised by RESULTS for the All-Party Group on Global Education For All.  The new report – No Child Forgotten: Education and Inequality post 2015states that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have done too little to concentrate efforts on the poorest and most marginalized children. It recommends actions to address this when the world agrees a new post-2015 development goals framework. The event took place just as a major global consultation event on post-2015 education was taking place in Dakar, Senegal.

In 2000 the world agreed the MDGs, which included a goal that all children should have the chance to go to school by 2015 and a goal to achieve global gender equality in education. However, the GCE UK report shows that there was too little incentive to focus on inequalities, and nothing said about the quality of education.

Although big progress has been made – with 50 million more children now in school – 61 million children are still denied their right to even a basic primary education. Most of these are from disadvantaged groups; girls, the poorest, children living in disadvantaged areas and children with disabilities. In addition, many millions of children who are in school are receiving such a poor quality education that they are failing to learn even the basics of reading and writing.

It is vital that we focus on the most pervasive inequalities and that no child is forgotten, including those most at risk – youngsters with severe disabilities.” – David Blunkett MP

David Blunkett MP, who chaired the report launch event in Parliament today, said, “This time round we can’t make the same mistakes. As we get close to 2015 and work on a new strategy for reaching the goal of universal primary education, it is vital that we focus on the most pervasive inequalities and that no child is forgotten.

The event saw Will Paxton from Save The Children representing GCE UK on a panel of speakers alongside Manos Antoninis from the UNESCO Education For All Global Monitoring Team, Claire Melamed from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Jane Edmondson from the Department for International Development (DfID).

UNESCO have themselves just published briefings ahead of the global consultation in Senegal, including their own proposals for post-2015 goals, targets and indicators which include a strong focus on tackling inequalities. UNESCO have also published new figures on the “education for all global financing gap” – the amount of additional money needed to achieve universal basic education over and above existing government and donor aid resources. Their new brief estimates that there remains a huge $26 billion per year gap in education financing, and that this gap is getting worse as donor aid to education is stagnating.

GCE UK believes that there is a huge opportunity for the British government and the Department for International Development to lead the way and ensure that there is a greater focus on tackling inequality. DfID is a major donor to education globally, and with the UK’s commendable objective of spending 0.7% of national income on overseas aid from this year onwards combined with David Cameron’s role as a Co-Chair of the UN Post-2015 High Level Panel, the UK is in a strong position to take this forward and influence other world leaders.

The GCE report sets out a vision for the ‘post 2015 development framework’- the set of goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals, and it suggests that assessment mechanisms should be put in place to measure inequalities both in access to education and in the quality of learning outcomes.

The report can be downloaded in full here.