Ireland is advocating strongly for a continued focus on a good quality education, at primary level and beyond, for all children, in the context of the intergovernmental discussions on the follow-up framework to the Millennium Development Goals post-2015.The third Millennium Development Goal (MDG 3) aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education at all levels by 2015. Since the agreement of the Millennium Declaration in 2000, progress has been made on increasing investments in education, and there are now more children in school than ever before in human history. However, girls still lag behind boys in terms of primary school completion and enrolment in secondary school. This is particularly so in conflict affected states where girls are often kept at home for their own safety. It is also true in the poorest regions in the world where girls may be kept out of school to engage in domestic chores. Ireland recognises the transformative power of girls’ education, both for girls themselves, and also for their families and communities. Every girl and woman has a right to a quality education. And ensuring that right makes sense, as educating girls leads to healthier and more productive families and communities. Evidence of this fact abounds. UNESCO estimates for example, that 2.1 million lives of children under 5 were saved during the first ten years of the MDG time frame between 1990 and 2009, because of improvements in girls’ and women’s education.
A commitment to improving access to education for girls at primary and beyond primary, consistent with the second and third Millennium Development Goals, has been very strongly represented across the Irish Aid programme. Ireland’s new policy on International Development, One World, One Future, affirms Ireland’s commitment to education, with girls’ education, at primary and beyond primary, singled out for special focus. In 2012, Irish Aid allocated €33.9 million to education programmes in developing countries. This amount represented approximately 8% of bilateral ODA.
Ireland will continue to support national governments in our partner countries in their efforts to address drop-out rates of girls and low enrolment in their education plans. We also work with civil society partners to raise awareness at community level of gender based violence in schools, and support the Global Partnership for Education, an international funding mechanism which targets girls that have been left behind.
Ireland recognises that the enjoyment of all human rights is essential for development, and this is reflected in our engagement with the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) as a member for the term 2013-2015. Ireland has supported two separate resolutions at the HRC which recognised the right to education. The most recent resolution in this regard, adopted by the HRC on 13 June 2013, reaffirmed the human right of everyone to education, and called upon all States to take all measures to implement the HRC resolutions on the right to education with a view to ensuring the full realisation of this right for all. The resolution also emphasised the need to ensure that the right to education is central in the context of the post-2015 agenda.