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Government must boost funding for girls’ education or commitments will be more empty promises

Government must boost funding for girls’ education or commitments will be more empty promises

As it prepares to co-host the Global Education Summit, the UK Government today announced a pledge of £430m to the Global Partnership for Education – one of the main global funds for education. Alongside this, the Government announced two new global targets on girls’ education.

This comes as Plan International UK releases new research showing the devastating impact of Covid-19 on global education, particularly for the poorest and most excluded girls, and the urgent need to address what is now the worst education crisis of our lifetime.  


Responding, Rose Caldwell, Chief Executive of Plan International UK, said:

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensuring every girl gets 12 years of quality education, but the reality is that without adequate funding, today’s targets and the flagship Girls’ Education Declaration will be nothing but empty promises.

“The Government’s pledge to the Global Partnership for Education is a good start, but it falls short of the leadership we would expect from the UK as it prepares to co-host the Global Education Summit.

“Covid-19 has created the biggest education emergency of our lifetime. Yet this pledge follows shameful cuts to overseas aid which have seen global education funding slashed by 40 per cent - impacting more than a million children in the world’s poorest countries.

“We can and must do better. If the Government wants to be taken seriously as a global education leader and persuade other governments to step up, it must increase its pledge and urgently reverse the cuts to overseas aid; otherwise, millions of girls around the world could see their chance for an education lost forever.”  


Key findings – new Plan International UK research

New research released today by Plan International UK shows how Covid-19 has impacted on children’s education around the world (see notes). Drawing on responses from nearly 1,000 children, teachers and parents in Guatemala, Honduras, Nepal and Sudan, it shows: 

  • More than a year since the pandemic began, 6 in 10 adolescents have not yet fully returned to education.  
  • Nearly two-thirds of teachers were unable to teach remotely during lockdowns due to their own or their students’ lack of connectivity or access to devices. 
  • Nearly 9 in 10 teachers reported fewer students attending online lessons compared with school-based lessons before the pandemic. Teachers often referred to girls being forced to marry early or earn money to support their families instead of engaging in learning. 
  • Less than one-third of adolescents felt they learnt as much at home as they would have in school. 
  • Already weak and overstretched education systems failed to cope with the sudden shift to remote learning.  
  • The social and economic impacts of the pandemic, including isolation, concerns about the future, and stressful home-learning environments caused widespread mental health and wellbeing challenges for girls, parents and teachers. 



  1. Data collection methods varied between countries, ranging from entirely online to using WhatsApp texts and phone calls. In contexts where connectivity and/or access to electronic devices was not possible, interviews were carried out in person in line with COVID-19 safety protocols.
  2. Qualitative research was carried out through 134 key informant interviews and focus group discussions with adolescent boys and girls, parents, teachers and local leaders in Nepal Sudan