Helen Grant MP, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education

Helen Grant

Prime Minister's Special Envoy for Girls' Education

Part of Girls' Education

29th July 2022

Global Education Summit: one year on

Helen Grant with GPE Youth Champions Ayesha, Selina, and Zubair in London, 18 July 2022.

This time last year, leaders and ministers from all over the world were in London for the Global Education Summit. Co-hosted by the UK and Kenya, our mission was to raise as much money as possible for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the world’s largest fund dedicated to transforming education in lower-income countries.

Helen Grant, Ambassador Raychelle Omamo (Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs), Julia Gillard (GPE Board Chair) and Minister Serigne Mbaye Thiam (GPE Vice Board Chair) raise their hands at the Global Education Summit in London on 29 July 2021. Credit: GPE/Michael Knief

I had been appointed the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education 6 months earlier, and my time leading up to the Summit was filled with events, bilateral meetings, media briefings and more. My message was clear: the world needed to come together to fund GPE and to stand up for the right of every child, especially girls, to 12 years of quality education.

The Summit took place at a crucial time, with many countries still impacted by pandemic-related school closures and the lives of millions of children at stake. I am proud that we led the way and committed £430 million in UK funding to GPE, our largest ever pledge, maintaining our position as top bilateral donor.

In total, the Summit raised a huge $4 billion in pledges, the single biggest cash injection education has ever seen. In addition to donor pledges, developing country partners committed more than $196 billion in domestic financing for education and the Summit also mobilised over $1 billion from partners in innovative financing. These figures were record-breaking, and much needed in the context of COVID-19, setting GPE well on its path to enabling 175 million children to learn by 2025.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and GPE Board Chair Julia Gillard at the Global Education Summit in London, 29 July 2021. Credit: GPE/Tom Whipps

Sadly, however, the world was facing a learning crisis even before COVID-19 and the current situation is truly urgent. Pandemic-related learning losses, together with an increasing lack of domestic resources for education and the many additional barriers to education (faced particularly by children living in crises and emergencies, and children with disabilities), mean that the world must act if we are to get Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 back on track.

 Ongoing UK leadership

Our leadership on girls’ education continues at pace. We are delivering on our commitments at country level through new programmes announced over the past year in JordanTanzania, and Bangladesh.  The Prime Minister and I launched a new Girls’ Education Skills Partnership at Downing Street on International Women’s Day in March, working together with businesses and with UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited. Calls for proposals to be funded by this partnership are currently openLast month, the Prime Minister announced £217 million in UK aid funding for new bilateral programmes in Rwanda and Pakistan and dedicated funding to track global learning data.

Last week, I joined GPE’s wonderful Youth Champions to mark the anniversary of the Global Education Summit, and to consider what more must be done to help the poorest and most marginalised. The FCDO is working closely with GPE to ensure gender is being mainstreamed in all its programmes, and particular attention is given to children affected by conflict and crisis. As well as our funding to GPE, the FCDO is a top donor to Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies.


Helen Grant with GPE Youth Champions Ayesha, Selina, and Zubair in London, 18 July 2022.

In addition to funding, we know that political will is vital to shifting the dial and for sustainable change. I joined GPE Vice-Chair, Dr Susan Liautaud, in Parliament last week and underscored the importance of continued attention and action on global education to my parliamentary colleagues.

This includes attention to the climate crisis, building on the success of the UK-hosted COP Climate Conference in Glasgow last year. In June, the FCDO and GPE co-hosted a conference on education and climate change at Wilton Park, bringing together ministers of education and leading education and climate experts for the first time, to identify priorities ahead of COP27.

The UK is building a new global coalition to get some of the most marginalised children around the world learning, and we are working to find new, innovative solutions to address the gaps in education financing. This summer, we are looking ahead to the Transforming Education Summit (TES) in September: find out more on our plans for the TES.

The urgency of the world’s learning crisis – this silent pandemic of lost potential – cannot be overstated. This global challenge requires global action, and the UK remains committed to reaching every girl, everywhere.