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World Bank-IMF Annual Meetings

Thank you Mr Wheeler, Honorable Ministers

I’d like to start by praising the African ministers here for their bold initiative in drawing attention to the implications of this crisis for poor countries, poor people and education. It is likely to be deep and damaging. This is a terrible injustice given that poor people were the least implicated in causing the crisis.


The fragile gains made in education over the last 9 years have been made possible because of political will and increased resources from donors – yes – but mainly from developing countries themselves. Economic growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America has led to more investment in education – which has helped get more children into school and learning. As growth slows, and budgets are squeezed, education will suffer.


And that’s a great shame, because education is not just a right, it’s a remedy. Quality education helps beat poverty, boosting the incomes of people and nations. Quality education saves lives – educated girls and boys are more likely to grow up free from HIV and to have families that thrive. Learning has the power to transform lives – that’s why the EFA goals and the EFA compact are so very important. 


Now more than ever, the international community cannot stand on the sidelines. It’s time to play fair and keep our promises, so that every child can have the chance to achieve their potential by going to school and learning.


Playing fair means giving countries the same chance to boost their economies in the crisis. The IMF have said that they are relaxing macro-economic conditions that prevent countries from increasing public investment. We need them to keep their word not just for today, but for as long as needed to build strong and sustainable education systems.


Playing fair means meeting our aid commitments. We see here some of the donors who have really made an effort over the last years. But to reach the $16 billion needed each year to achieve the full EFA agenda, we need others to join them. GCE’s School Report shows that countries like Germany, Japan and the US are far from doing their fair share. FTI replenishment is a vital first step and is essential to support the 20 million children in the countries seeking support. FTI has made a difference – as shown by the fact that enrolment and completion is climbing much faster in these countries. But we must not set our sights too low – meeting the full costs for all poor countries, including the fragile state, must remain our goal.


Despite the challenges, 2010 could be a unique opportunity to put education back at the top of the development agenda. GCE and Class of 2015 have launched 1-GOAL: Education For All as a unique campaign to attract new support among the public and politicians, for a breakthrough on EFA. FIFA want a lasting legacy of the 2010 World Cup to be every child in school in Africa. In partnership with them, we will make the World Cup a platform for a massive communications effort reaching 30 million people, to demonstrate mass public concern on the issue. With them, we want to blow the final whistle on education disadvantage and convince political leaders to act. A wave of hope and pride is surging across Africa in the run-up to the World Cup; 1-GOAL provides a unique chance to translate that hope into real development benefits.


1-GOAL will have a major public moment on Tuesday when supportive governments will join the football community and campaigners to express their support for 1-GOAL. As a taster of what to expect, I’d like to present our campaign film….

Kailash Satyarthi... the seeker of truth
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