Will South East Asia lead to #FundEducation?

    Flickr: Aka Hige

    264 million children around the world are missing out on an education. Over half of these are girls, and over 75 million have had their schooling disrupted by conflict or natural disasters, including many in the Asia-Pacific region.

    But if all countries increase their domestic spend on education to 20% of their budgets, emerging middle income countries transition into donors and existing and new donors invest around $40 billion into global education per year, we have a chance to change this story.

    South East Asia and the Pacific has the capacity to make a significant impact on global education and education in emergencies and quality education across the region is key to ensuring ongoing regional growth and prosperity. There is a part for all countries in this region to play to ensure education is prioritized, and, in particular, a role for the The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leadership group, an economic powerhouse of 10 countries, to take a leadership stance on education.

    asean.jpgThe ASEAN countries include: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand & Vietnam

    Many of the countries in the region have been affected by natural disasters, civil conflict and mass migration in recent years, forcing children out of school, putting pressure on already under-resourced education systems and, in countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia, leading to poor educational outcomes and opportunities.

    For low-income countries, domestic funding for education is critical. The ASEAN group represents the 7th largest economy in the world and a pattern of behaviour by ASEAN nations will have a large impact. The Phillipines, for instance, currently funds education at about 16.8% and their 2017 budget for 'real change' saw an unprecedented lift in funding for 2017. If the Phillippines government lifts its investment to 20% in 2018 this will set a precedent for others in the region to follow.  

    Desktop.jpgThe ASEAN countries are a strong economic community with a combined GDP of US $2.6 trillion

    For middle and higher income countries, more investment in global education is needed. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) has already raised $2.3 billion for 2018-2020 but still needs to raise around $800 million to continue to support quality, inclusive education to over 870 million children around the world. These funds will be used to fund education in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam and s of 2017, 22 low- and lower middle-income countries, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka are now eligible for GPE grants to help analyze and strengthen their education sector plans through the GPE Multiplier. So contributions to GPE will have a regional effect.

    Although Australia, Japan and Korea made commitments at GPE's financing conference on February 2nd, these were all below what they had been asked for. Japan, as a G7 country, only committed $1.7 million for 2018, while Korea committed just over $2 million for 2018-2020. There is still time to ask them to increase their support. New Zealand has not made a commitment to GPE to date.

    Help us call on donor governments in the South East Asia and Pacific region such as New Zealand, Japan and South Korea to increase their support for GPE to help it reach its $3.1B target for 2018-2020 and also join the call for all countries in the region to increase domestic spend on education to 20% of total budgets to ensure regional prosperity and empowerment.