Boris Johnson was accused of hypocrisy after announcing at the G7 leaders ‘summit that he would provide £ 430 million in additional UK funding for girls’ education in 90 developing countries just weeks after his government did ” inexcusable cuts “of more than 200 million pounds sterling reserved for it. cause of your bilateral program this year.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced in April that he was providing only £ 400 million of the UK’s main aid budget for girls’ education in 2021, down from £ 600 million in 2019. Johnson has ruled out the stories of aid cuts and their aftermath as “leftist propaganda,” but he declined to hold a Commons vote on the issue.
The additional £ 430 million over five years announced on Friday is part of a regularly allocated UK contribution to the multilateral Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The UK is hosting a summit for the fund together with Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan president in London in July.
The summit aims to raise £ 5bn over the next five years, and aid experts said they expected the UK to contribute £ 600m to the summit later. The smaller sum, announced by Johnson at the first session of the G7 summit in Cornwall, represents 12% of the funds requested for GPE. The agencies noted that since 2006 the UK, on average, has provided 19% of total funding to GPE.
While the agencies welcomed the UK’s contribution, they also said they feared that Johnson’s efforts to persuade other countries to step up on this and other development issues have been hampered by his inability to preach with the example by cutting the general aid budget. up to £ 4 billion in 2021.
In announcing the cash, Johnson said: “It is a source of international shame that every day around the world children of potential are denied the opportunity to become industry titans, scientific pioneers or leaders in any field, simply because they are female, its parental income or place of birth.
“I call on other world leaders, including those here at the G7, to also donate and put us firmly on the path of getting more girls into the classroom, addressing the terrible setback to global education caused by the coronavirus. and help the world rebuild. best. “
Laurie Lee, Executive Director of Care International UK, said: “The Prime Minister was right when he said that it is a ‘moral outrage’ – and a serious impediment to economic growth – that millions of girls around the world are denied education. . Care has a successful history of providing life-changing education for girls, funded by the UK government, in places like Somalia, Yemen and Syria, where girls’ education is the most transformative. It is therefore inexcusable, as well as deeply regrettable, that we will have to cut girls’ education programs in 2021 due to damaging and unstrategic cuts at the Foreign Ministry. “
Lis Wallace, UK Advocacy Director at One, said the £ 430 million “falls short of what is expected from the co-host of the summit, so it should be the preface to the story, not the conclusion.
“Announcing this while the G7 leaders are in Cornwall is a sign that the UK is looking to harness its diplomatic influence to encourage others. However, 25% cuts in the budget to aid girls’ education are undermining these efforts and mean they are demanding that others approach hypocrisy. “
As a result of government secrecy and the relabeling of aid spending into new subject categories, the exact level of cuts in girls’ education is controversial.
Since its inception in 2002, the GPE has contributed to the largest expansion of primary and lower secondary education in history, with 160 million more children attending school. In countries where GPE works, the number of girls enrolling in school has increased by 65%. Almost a third of girls who drop out of school do so due to pregnancy, another area in which the UK is cutting back.
The G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in May adopted the UK’s goal of getting 40 million more girls to school and 20 million more girls to read by the age of 10 in the next five years.
Italy and the European Commission have pledged to contribute € 25 million and € 700 million, respectively, to GPE.