Australia invests more in education grant

Samoa is among eight Pacific Island nations that would benefit from a AU$180 million ($450 million tala) investment announced by Australia into the Global Partnership for Education (G.P.E.) grant.

In a statement issued last Thursday, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne announced that Australia is making a  AU$180 million investment in the G.P.E. in the Indo-Pacific region to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The funding increase to the G.P.E. is to respond to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s education across the region and also includes a focus on girls.

During the pandemic, schools in the region and around the world closed as a precaution, consequently impacting the studies of thousands of students.

According to the Minister’s statement, the G.P.E. will have a specific focus on the Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The funding will promote and support the education of the most vulnerable children and deliver quality teaching and learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on education in the region. It is estimated to have affected 343 million children, particularly girls,” reads the statement issued by Senator Payne.

“Disruptions to education threaten to undo decades of progress, pushing millions of children out of school across Asia and the Pacific.

“To address this fundamental challenge, over the next five years the Australian Government will invest $180 million in the Global Partnership for Education’s work in the Indo-Pacific.

“Education and skills in the Indo-Pacific are more critical than ever as we seek to build stability and drive economic growth.

“This commitment to the Pacific and Southeast Asia builds on our extensive bilateral education partnerships across the region.”

The G.P.E. this year already provides support for basic education in 15 Pacific nations including Samoa.

“With Partnerships for Recovery – through which we have redirected our development program to focus on our partners’ immediate COVID-19 priorities – Australia is strongly committed to learning for all, particularly for girls and for children with disability,” the statement issued by Senator Payne reads.

“We are investing in Indo-Pacific education and training systems to promote quality learning and equitable participation. 

“Education and skills will drive COVID-19 recovery, grow economies and ensure stability. In 2021-22, Australia will spend almost $600 million on education.”

Samoa is already directly benefiting from the grant. On 30 October 2020 the Chief Executive Officer of the G.P.E. Alice P. Albright wrote to the then Minister of Education, Luau Keneti Sio to advise of the decision by the G.P.E. to approve US$750,000 for Samoa under the COVID-19 accelerated funding. The grant start date for Samoa was scheduled for 1 November 2020 to 30 April 2022.

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