School girls in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Education In COVID-19 crisis, Germany supports Global Partnership for Education together with Malala Fund

Press release of 19 May 2021 | BERLIN – Germany is increasing its support for school education worldwide. The German Development Ministry is going to start the SHE initiative (Support Her Education) in order to assist one million girls in developing countries who lost their access to education as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

To that end, the Ministry will be investing about 100 million euros over the next four years. The overall goal of the supported GPE initiative is to enable 46 million girls to enrol in school.

On the occasion of the launch of the initiative, German Development Minister Gerd Müller stated:

“We are far from reaching UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality. Worldwide, women do the bulk of the work, but their incomes are only three-fourths those of men. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the situation for girls and women has deteriorated. They were often the first to lose their jobs. Worldwide, 130 million girls are unable to go to school. The dramatic global economic and hunger crisis means that 13 million girls are pushed into forced marriage and often have to drop out of school. That is unacceptable!

We must do everything we can to ensure that there will not be a lost generation. After all, education for girls is the smartest investment you can make. Every euro invested pays off twice. It creates new employment opportunities and opportunities in life, protects women against unwanted pregnancies – and thus improves their job outlook. Thus, the meeting of the Global Partnership for Education must send the message that the richest countries are living up to their responsibility. Germany is already making a major contribution. We have doubled our investments in education and training and are now providing another 100 million euros so that one million girls can return to school after the pandemic. This is an important investment in the future of an entire generation.”

Parliamentary State Secretary Maria Flachsbarth stated:

“The COVID-19 crisis has worsened the situation of many girls. Many will not return to school because they are forced into marriage or have to work. We will not leave those girls behind. The Support Her Education initiative will assist about one million girls in developing countries in the years up to 2024 so that they can attend school, return to school after COVID-19-related closures, and graduate. Support will be provided, for example, for women teachers, for the introduction of curricula that work against gender stereotypes, and for measures to prevent early marriage and pregnancy.”

The Development Ministry announced its support for the education of girls at a virtual event held by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) with the participation of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai and GPE Chair Julia Gillard, the former Prime Minister of Australia.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, said:

“COVID-19 is creating a global education crisis. To address this, we must shift critical resources towards education. In turn, this helps our communities and societies improve because educating girls increases economic growth, improves public health, reduces conflict, and improves environmental sustainability. The benefits are countless. Through the Girls' Education Accelerator, we can ensure 46 million girls enroll in schools over the next two years.”

Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), said:

“Today marks a huge success for girls' education. There is great hope that the world's poorest countries can fortify their education systems to create vibrant futures where all girls and boys can become game changers. Education drives gender equality, which is key to creating a more peaceful, prosperous, healthy, and sustainable world. It is now more important than ever to get children back into schools to pave their way in driving change.”

Under the SHE initiative, Germany will be supporting GPE's new financing mechanism, the Girls' Education Accelerator (GEA). Ireland has announced that it will contribute 60 million euros.

Within the framework of its development policy, Germany has doubled its funding for education and training since 2014, bringing the total to one billion euros a year. We want to spend 25 per cent of our development cooperation funding on education.

We are already making a difference:

  • We are strengthening education systems in 90 partner countries and supporting basic education in the world's poorest countries.
  • We are creating better education opportunities for nearly 4 million children and youth affected by displacement and crisis.
  • We are providing better school education for nearly 12 million pupils thanks to better national education policies, curricula, and teacher training.
  • We are improving the digital skills of more than 50,000 girls and women through the G20 #eSkills4Girls initiative.