The Islamic Development Bank and Dubai Cares collectively pledged more than $200 million to the Global Partnership for Education, the UN-backed fund working to transform schooling for children in poor countries.
The commitments are the first from the Middle East region towards GPE’s Raise Your Hand replenishment campaign, which is seeking at least $5 billion from donors to support education in about 90 countries and territories.
The IsDB, which is based in Jeddah, contributed $200m in concessional loans, while Dubai Cares, the UAE-based global philanthropic organisation, gave $2.5m, doubling previous pledges it made in 2014 and 2018.
“Supporting GPE’s efforts in a sustainable way through the continuous renewal of financial resources is a shared responsibility that requires a bold vision, close co-operation and enduring commitment,” Dr Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares, said.
“If education isn’t given the attention it deserves now, an entire generation on this planet could miss out on their education; hence lose hope for a brighter future. We are now at this tipping point.”
Senegal’s Water and Sanitation Minister Serigne Thiam, who is the vice-chairman of GPE, said Gulf countries “have played a vital role in supporting education systems in lower-income countries” through their “deeply rooted tradition of generosity”.
He urged the Middle East to back GPE’s replenishment campaign and described it as “a real opportunity for regional leaders to step up and transform education for the world’s most vulnerable children. Education is the key to creating a more peaceful, equitable and prosperous world.”
At one point last year, as many as 1.6 billion children were out of school, with at least 24 million projected to never return.
Even before the pandemic, about 260 million young people were not in school. Education leaders said the crisis has adversely affected those from the poorest regions, and girls in particular.
Julia Gillard, GPE’s chairwoman and the former Australian prime minister, said that for the most marginalised children, their days out of school were not only measured in missed learning and other opportunities.
She said they also lost a “safe haven from violence or conflict, the lack of a hot meal every day and the disconnection from social and emotional support”.
The culmination of GPE’s Raise Your Hand replenishment drive will be a summit in London in July, co-hosted by the UK and Kenya.
GPE says that if its funding targets are met, it will help support 175 million children to learn and send 88 million boys and girls to school.