Brussels: It’s easy for governments to make grand promises on development – and then let them lapse. It happens all the time. People forget. Right?
In the spirit of linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, who begins arguments on the basis that governments and the people they represent should be held to account for the commitments they make, let us all support Global Action Week (GAW), which takes place this week from 19 April and is organised by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE).
It is an annual attempt to raise the visibility of education financing issues with policymakers and the international community and calls for increased financial support for the Education for All (EFA) movement.
While many of us may be cynical of “action weeks” put on by development organisations, they do serve to highlight issues that may get lost in all the media noise out there. For example, how many of us knew that the EFA movement exists, or that although aid for education has increased in recent years, an annual financing gap of €12bn remains? At least, that’s the figure given by EFA and UNESCO.
Specifically, the GCE is calling on the G-8 to fulfil their pledge to make up the estimated €900 million funding shortfall for the Education For All Fast Track Initiative and support for the FIFA 1-GOAL World Cup 2010 education campaign, which is working to mobilise 30 million football fans to advocate for the resources needed to deliver primary education for all children by 2015.
“Moreover, aid to education does not always reach those who need it most,” says the GCE. “Poverty, gender, ethnicity, language, location and disability are obstacles to providing education to the hardest-to-reach groups. Education in countries affected by conflict is not receiving enough support, undermining prospects for recovery. Among the solutions to improve access and affordability for excluded groups are lowering cost barriers, bringing schools closer to marginalised communities and developing ‘second-chance’ programmes.”
GCE is a coalition of charities, trade unions and citizens’ groups worldwide.
What can you do?
First, you can find out how much your country has pledged toward education and the campaign and see whether that goal has been fulfilled. If you can, provide the reports in the comments below, or better yet, provide a separate report on the progress in a separate article, with a link back here if you can!
Here is what the European Commission said it had achieved in 2006 toward those goals in their own words:
- Europe has pledged to contribute 80% of the $50bn additional funds needed.
- On aid financing, Europe has not just met its commitment to reach aid worth 0.39% of GNI by 2006; as the Commission has reported, it will probably pass this mark and deliver aid worth 0.42% of GNI this year.
- On trade, the recent revision of the Commission’s preferential trade scheme, the Generalised System of Preferences, has extended the scheme to 300 additional products - mostly in the agriculture and fishery sectors. A new GSP Plus arrangement has been established targeted at especially vulnerable countries that have ratified and effectively implemented key international conventions related to sustainable development. Currently it ensures duty free treatment in 91% of tariff lines and therefore represents an extremely generous level of access. This is on top of the Everything But Arms arrangements that provide duty free access for nearly all goods from Least Developed Countries.
On 21 April I will be reporting on the Commission’s official adoption of a 12-point EU Action Plan in support of the Millennium Development Goals. This document sets out a blueprint for the EU position in the MDG Summit in September of this year and also shows how far EU Member States have or have not gone meet those goals.
What was promised relating to development aid at the G-8 Summits from 2005 Gleneagles Summits (from a UK government report):
- Increasing global aid. Official Development Assistance (ODA) has increased by $20 billion since 2004. At Gleneagles, under the UK presidency, the G8 agreed to double aid by $50 billion per year by 2010, with $25 billion going to Africa.
- Establishing a new working relationship with Africa via the G8 Africa Action Plan. This was a response to the African-led New Partnership for Africa's Development.
- Carrying out 100% multilateral debt cancellation – the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative agreed at Gleneagles in 2005 has delivered an additional $41 billion debt relief so far, resulting in higher spending on education, health and other investments to reduce poverty.
- Agreeing to spend $10 billion on food security to meet not just short-term humanitarian needs - including increases in food aid - but to improve food security and agricultural productivity over the longer term.
At the L’Aquila G-8 Summit in 2009, the G8 reached agreements on:
- Reaffirmation of commitment to the Gleneagles targets, to increase annual aid to Africa by US$25 billion a year and overall aid by an estimated US$50 billion by 2010.
- An international reassessment in 2010 on what is required to meet the Millennium Development Goals
- Publication of the first G8 accountability framework, showing individual country progress against some key G8 commitments. Furthermore, the G8 tasked senior level experts to produce a full G8 accountability review in 2010.
- US$20 billion extra financing for food over the next 3 years. This includes a US$1.8 billion (£1.1 billion) contribution from the UK.
- A reaffirmation of existing commitments on global health, including US$60 billion for health over 5 years, 100 million malaria bed nets by 2010, and universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment by 2010.
- Adoption of a Global Consensus on Maternal Health, which includes support for free services for women and children where countries choose to provide it.
- Reaffirmation of the need to fulfil the US$1.2 billion funding shortfall for the Education For All Fast Track Initiative.
- Support for the FIFA 1-GOAL World Cup 2010 education campaign, which is working to mobilise 30 million football fans to advocate for the resources needed to deliver primary education for all children by 2015.
- Agreement to launch a strengthened Africa-G8 partnership on water and sanitation, based on mutual accountability and shared responsibility.