No world leader is safe from Rihanna’s mission to get every child in school.
Just a couple of weeks after Rihanna tweeted at Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, calling on her to #FundEducation through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the pop star added to her list Thursday, tweeting world leaders from three more countries and asking them to ramp up efforts in realizing every child’s right to a quality education.
The the UK, France, and Australia all found themselves in Rihanna’s sights — as she asked them to step up and support GPE.
.@erna_solberg#throwback to 1 year ago when we talked about how important it is to #FundEducation. Now it’s time… Will 🇳🇴 lead in Senegal on 2/2/18 with a $375M USD pledge to @GPforEducation? @firstname.lastname@example.org/KRFXbmMSbj— Rihanna (@rihanna) January 17, 2018
hi @JulieBishopMP & @TurnbullMalcolm will you step up w/ a 🇦🇺 $200M pledge to #FundEducation at the @GPforEducation conference in Senegal tomorrow? Kick off your 1st year on the #HumanRightsCouncil by giving the universal human right to education! 📚🌏 @claralionelfdn@glblctzn— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 1, 2018
🇬🇧 Hello @theresa_may and @PennyMordaunt, please continue to prioritize girls’ education and be a top funder of @GPforEducation. Will @DFID_UK make a historic commitment of £380M to #FundEducation tomorrow? ✏️ @claralionelfdn@glblctzn— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 1, 2018
But time is running out for governments to offer their support.
That’s because right now there’s a financing conference for the Global Partnership for Education — a global fund for education set up by private donors, NGOs, and other international organizations, working in 65 developing countries to make sure every child gets a quality basic education.
The conference, held in Senegal and co-hosted by Senegal and France, marks the first time European and African leaders have jointly raised money to get kids back in school.
The GPE works to reach some of the most educationally challenging parts of the world — essential in tackling poverty and inequality — but, right now, efforts are severely underfunded.
Right now, 264 million children around the world are missing out on education.
If current trends continue, 15 million girls and 10 million boys worldwide will never set foot in a classroom. By 2030, less than 10% of young people in low-income countries will be on track to gain basic secondary level skills.
It’s statistics like these that inspired Rihanna to put her fame, and her extensive Twitter following, to use to tackle these injustices.
In 2016, she became an ambassador for GPE, and she’s been taking the role very seriously. In January last year, she travelled to Malawi with Global Citizen and the GPE, to meet with children at under-resourced schools.
She travelled with former Australian Prime Minister and GPE Chairperson Julia Gillard, and Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans, visiting students, teachers, government officials, and mentors to better understand the issues and challenges surrounding education.
“I’m really here to see it,” Rihanna said at the time. “It’s one thing to read statistics, but I want to see it firsthand and find out all that can be done and where to start first.”
It’s not the first time Rihanna has used Twitter to get her message across.
Last year, she tweeted Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Argentinian president Mauricio Macri, German leader Angela Merkel, and French president Emmanuel Macron.
To Trudeau, in June 2017, she wrote: “I know you had our backs during the Global Citizen Festival, will you recommit Canada to #FundEducation?”
To Macri she said: “Hey there, what’s your plan for Argentina to commit to #FundEducation?”
And she got some responses.
Even better, the singer actually had a face-to-face meeting with French president Macron in July last year as a result of her tweet, to discuss the critical issue of the replenishment of a global education fund.
And her efforts — alongside the efforts of Global Citizens — are really paying off.
In 2016, after targeting then-French president Francois Hollande and rallying her fans to do the same, Rihanna was able to persuade the French government to commit $2 million to the Education Cannot Wait fund.
Quality education is one of the UN Global Goals, a 17-goal plan for ending extreme poverty by 2030. And, for many, it is one of the most vital goals to achieve because it ties into so many others.
An educated person is more likely to lead a healthy life, for example, and is less likely to die in childbirth. Education helps to promote gender equality, reduce child marriage, and build peace.
But children — particularly girls, children with disabilities, and children living in conflict zones — are still missing out.
In South Sudan, in a shocking example, a girl is more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish secondary school.
Over 100 million young women living in developing countries are unable to read a single sentence. One in three girls in developing countries get married before they turn 18, and they usually leave education when they do.
Not only is this deeply unjust, it also ignores the immense potential of educating girls. If all girls went to school for 12 years, low- and middle-income countries could add $92 billion per year to their economies — and a girl who is educated is less likely to marry young, contract HIV, and more likely to have healthy, educated children.
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including goal number four, quality education. We believe that every child everywhere has the right to an education and the right to the best possible start in life. You can join us by taking action here.