'Raise your hand' to accelerate access to quality education in developing countries, where the education crisis has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In essence, this is the appeal that has been launched by the GPE, the world's largest fund dedicated to reinforcing and funding education in low-income countries. The Federal Council decided on 11 June 2021 to renew its contribution to the fund with a pledge of CHF 52 million. The support was announced on 29 July 2021 at the Global Education Summit in London by Patricia Danzi, director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). "Without education, there is no equality, no prosperity, and no sustainable development," Danzi explained. The GPE plays a key role in implementing the 2030 Agenda's Sustainable Development Goal for education, and is the priority multilateral fund for education in Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24.
Switzerland shares its objectives at the multilateral level
Despite renewed efforts to increase universal access to quality primary and secondary education, the United Nations reports that 258 million children and young people are still deprived of it today. Some 127 million of these live in areas affected by crisis or conflict. Ensuring the quality of education remains a common challenge, too. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the World Bank reports that nearly 60% of pupils cannot read or write by the end of primary school. It is estimated that half of Africa's population will be under 15 by 2050, making it all the more important to achieve inclusive, quality education as quickly as possible.
In its International Cooperation Strategy, Switzerland acknowledges that education is an essential part of human development: it is a key agent in the reduction of poverty, and plays a fundamental role in gender equality, economic development, and equitable participation in social and political life. Switzerland's priorities and the GPE's objectives align in a number of areas: these include the reinforcement of public education, equal opportunities, and the mobilisation of public and private actors to provide innovation and funding for education.
Switzerland's priorities at the GPE for the period 2021–25
For the period 2021–25, Switzerland is advocating within the GPE's Board of Directors for education systems to include marginalised children from minority or refugee groups, as well as for the education of girls and greater coordination between humanitarian aid and development aid. This 'nexus' aims to ensure that children still have access to quality education during humanitarian crises and conflicts. UNESCO estimates that more than 20 million children may drop out of education as a result of the school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the economic consequences of the pandemic could cause education aid as a whole to fall by 12% by 2022. Efforts to support access to equitable and quality education are guided by the motto 'Leave no one behind'. In its work at the GPE, Switzerland also strives to promote greater funding for education, more effective governance, and educational content that is relevant to sustainable development.
The GPE's partners include nearly 70 developing countries and around 30 donors, as well as multilateral organisations, NGOs, other civil society organisations such as teachers' unions, and foundations and companies from the private sector. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GPE has mobilised USD 500 million to help nearly 355 million pupils continue their education. Switzerland has provided financial support to the fund since 2009.
Through education, towards sustainable development: Switzerland renews support for global Partnership for Education
Global Partnership for Education (GPE)
Universal right to basic education
Foreign Policy Strategy 20-23
Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021-24
Education: the key to sustainable development
Address for enquiries:
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Communication service: +41 58 462 31 53
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55