FORMER Tanzania President, Jakaya Kikwete has appealed to African leaders to "raise their hands" and pledge to maintain their education budgets at pre-Covid levels and work towards a global target of allocating at least 20 per cent of public spending to education.
Dr Kikwete made the appeal ahead of a global education summit hosted by the UK and Kenya to raise 5 billion US dollars over the next five years to boost children's education across the globe.
The summit was the culmination of GPE's "Raise Your Hand" financing campaign organised by Global Partnership for Education (GPE), of which Dr Kikwete is Chairman-elect of its Board of Director. GPE said in a statement that the 5 billion US dollars sought would also be used to get 88 million more children in school and reach 140 more students with professionally trained teachers in 87 low-and middle-income countries of which 35 are in Africa.
Donors made significant commitments but the fervent hope remained that beyond the 5 billion US dollars target funds for education should and must be generated from within.
Education has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic the world over, more so in Africa where children have and continue to be out of school particularly in rural areas. But besides this many African governments have not been spending as much as they should on education.
The African Development Bank AfDB showed in its Economic Outlook for 2020, that the continent has the worst education spending efficiency of all regions, putting it at 58 per cent for primary education and 42 per cent for secondary education, which, it says, is 20 percentage points lower than the second worst performing region. Other African leaders also called to action on education finance.
They recognised the fact that "to maintain the education momentum generated in the last two decades of GPE support, and to ensure quality education that strengthens human capital and provides the skills and knowledge needed to seize the opportunities of the 21st century. "We must address the holistic needs of all learners, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised," read the statement issued by GPE.
The leaders also acknowledged the role that bilateral and multilateral development partners as well as the private sector play in strengthening national government's education strategies in beneficiary countries" and so called upon them to align their support with national education plans.
They committed themselves to "ensuring equity in access to quality education, and to making available resources reach the most marginalized children, especially girls, prioritize gender equality, with a specific commitment to improving girls' education and increase investments for inclusion of children with disabilities or other historically excluded groups."
Dr Kikwete who is set to assume his work later this year, was appointed the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the fund last May due to his advocacy role in promotion of children's education across the globe.
"Tanzania has for long prioritised education and former President Jakaya Kikwete's penchant for the issue has been recognised as he has been named Chairman of the GPE's Board," partly reads the statement issued ahead of GPE summit in London.
Dr Kikwete has been hailed for being in the frontline to advocate for prioritization of education and when he paid a particular attention to the continent in his recent op-ed piece published in the 'Daily News' and other major global media outlets where he wrote: "Africa is the world region with the highest out-of-school rates, the highest rates of exclusion, and the highest adolescent pregnancy rates."