Government Must Reverse Aid Cuts

Responding to this statement from the Government on its plans for cutting aid from 0.7 to 0.5% of Gross National Income, the Send My Friend to School coalition has issued the following statement:

The cuts to overseas aid announced today are short-sighted, unjust and must be reversed. The direct devastation that these cuts will cause for children and young people around the world cannot be overstated. 

COVID-19 has exacerbated an education emergency that is playing out on a scale not experienced in living memory. Educational inequalities have been compounded and the world’s most marginalised children are being hit hardest, especially girls. To slash aid – with this severity and at this moment – is an inexcusable decision and must be reversed. 

The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have long championed quality education as critical to children’s safety, opportunities, and ability to reach their potential. To this end, girls’ education was a central development commitment in the manifesto on which the Government was elected. This was something that this coalition enthusiastically welcomed. 

However, it’s impossible to square the Government’s commitment to girls’ education with today’s announcement: girls’ education has been cut by a quarter.

There was already a $148 billion annual funding gap for global education; closing this gap will be central to determining how and if education systems recover from COVID-19. Nobody – this coalition included – expects the UK to go it alone and resolve these issues by itself. This is why the Government’s decisions to host key summits such as the G7, the Global Education Summit, and COP26 were so welcomed: global challenges require global responses.

Leading these moments means feeling the weight of responsibility, stepping up and taking charge. Swingeing cuts will only undermine the UK’s leadership and there is a clear risk of this reduced ambition cascading downstream to the allies and partners that the Government needs to be positively influencing. 

All around the world, girls are watching the Government roll back on its promises to defend and champion their right to learn. The Government must urgently change course.