Penny Mordaunt: The UK is tackling the ‘global learning crisis’ to empower the next generation

Over the next decade a billion more young people will enter the job market across the world – but 387 million children globally are set to leave school without the basic skills needed to get on in life.

At a time when half the world’s children leave primary school unable to read or write, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt announced on Friday 2 February that the UK is stepping up its work to tackle this “terrible waste of potential” as she attended a global education conference jointly hosted by France’s President Macron and Senegal’s President Sall.

In Dakar, Penny Mordaunt announced the UK’s commitment to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) – and set out how it is conditional on countries’ governments reforming their own education systems.

By encouraging radical improvements to education systems, the UK is supporting young people to get good jobs, and contribute to the future stability and prosperity of developing countries, so they can become our partners of the future. It’s also reducing the risk young people are forced to turn to crime or to search for a better life outside their own country – which directly impacts the UK.

The UK’s support for GPE over the next three years will work mostly across Sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia to:

  • keep 880,000 children in school each year for three years - over half of whom will be in fragile or conflict affected states
  • train 170,000 teachers
  • build 2400 new classrooms
  • distribute more than 20 million new textbooks

This follows the UK-France Summit last month, when Prime Minister Theresa May and President Macron named 2018 the Global Year of Learning. This year-long partnership will see the UK and France working together, calling on donor countries and partners to step up to tackle the ‘global learning crisis’.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

"It’s a terrible waste of potential that half the world’s children leave primary school unable to read or write because the quality of teaching is so poor.

We need an education revolution, but to succeed in tackling this global learning crisis, we will not just need to be open-hearted – we need to be hard-headed too.

The UK will lead the way by supporting countries’ governments to fundamentally overhaul their education systems to make sure they can ultimately step up and provide a good education for their own people.

All children deserve a decent education to make the most of their talents and to help lift themselves and their countries out of poverty – building a more prosperous and more stable future for us all."

Ms Mordaunt will say that the UK is focused on helping developing countries drive up standards in their education systems and ultimately take responsibility for investing in their own people, rather than depend on aid.

Although huge progress has been made in recent years improving access to education with 89% of children now in school, many teachers aren’t properly equipped to teach basic knowledge and vital skills.

UK aid has led the way, supporting 11.3 million of the world’s poorest children in primary and lower-secondary school between 2011 and 2015.

Under the Secretary of State’s new commitment to education, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) is:

  • working in partnership with countries to build inclusive education systems that will get children learning, so that governments can ultimately be responsible for providing education for their own people;
  • sharing its world-class expertise and developing new technologies like mobile registration to make sure teachers are properly trained and motivated to provide a quality education to their students; and
  • bringing education to the hardest-to-reach children, so that marginalised girls, those with disabilities and children affected by conflict are not left behind.

As set out by Prime Minister Theresa May and President Macron at the UK-France Summit, the UK is increasing its partnership with the French tackling serious threats and maximising opportunities in the Sahel region of Africa.

During her visit the Secretary of State visited a school and a family planning clinic in Dakar, to see how the UK is helping Senegal serve its rapidly growing population, and stimulate economic growth which is creating jobs and future prosperity across the country.