Australia will increase funding to the Global Partnership for Education to respond to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s education across the Indo-Pacific. This includes a focus on girls.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on education in the region. It is estimated to have affected 343 million children, particularly girls. Disruptions to education threaten to undo decades of progress, pushing millions of children out of school across Asia and the Pacific.
To address this fundamental challenge, over the next five years the Australian Government will invest $180 million in the Global Partnership for Education’s work in the Indo-Pacific. Education and skills in the Indo-Pacific are more critical than ever as we seek to build stability and drive economic growth.
This commitment to the Pacific and Southeast Asia builds on our extensive bilateral education partnerships across the region.
Australia will invest in GPE, as the largest global fund dedicated to transforming education systems in lower-income countries, to promote and support education of the most vulnerable children, and to deliver quality teaching and learning.
Australia welcomes GPE’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, especially the Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu. This includes a doubling of grant funds to the Pacific since 2019, with eight Pacific Island countries becoming GPE grant recipients in 2020. In addition, GPE this year provided further support for basic education in 15 Pacific Island countries.
With Partnerships for Recovery – through which we have redirected our development program to focus on our partners’ immediate COVID-19 priorities – Australia is strongly committed to learning for all, particularly for girls and for children with disability. We are investing in Indo-Pacific education and training systems to promote quality learning and equitable participation. Education and skills will drive COVID-19 recovery, grow economies and ensure stability. In 2021-22, Australia will spend almost $600 million on education.
In Papua New Guinea, I recently announced an additional $52 million in targeted financing to assist the PNG Government’s response to COVID-19, supporting continued delivery of critical education and health services to Papua New Guineans. In Indonesia, our education program is working with teachers on remote islands so that learning continues while schools are closed due to COVID-19. As a further example, an innovative Australian partnership means young women from ethnic minority groups in Laos are training to become teachers, providing role models for girls.
Australia thanks the outgoing Chair, former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Vice Chair, Seringne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of National Education, Senegal, for their outstanding contributions.