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Julia Gillard - Educate our Children for the Most Long-term Difference in Fate of Our World

Kashmiri school girls show their blackboards at an outdoor school in Pakistan-administered Kashmir. (REUTERS/Thierry Roge)

"There is nothing that will make a longer term difference to the fate of our world than what we are doing today to educate our children," said former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a Center for Universal Education at Brookings event today. 

Today, the Center is hosting a full-day event, being webcast live, comprising a number of discussions focused on identifying concrete actions—policy, programmatic and research—that will be required to improve education financing and to scale up learning. Four panels and a featured discussion are taking stock of evidence and research on the role of existing and new financing models for education, and exploring further how these models can assist in scaling up effective learning systems to children around the world. Discussions center on innovative mechanisms to finance and improve education and maximize the impact of interventions.

Gillard, now a nonresident senior fellow with the center and incoming chair of the Global Partnership for Education, engaged with center Director Rebecca Winthrop in opening remarks about her background and current work in global education. 

In response to Winthrop's question about why education has difficulty rallying a broader constituency when compared to other sectors, such as health and the environment, Gillard remarked that "you need to be able to show to your Parliament, to your people, that the money has made a difference" and that this is easier to do in some sectors than in education. "When we come to education, we don't have those snapshot measurements" she said.

Gillard called for patience because "the time frames are longer" in education than in other sectors, stating that the challenge is "to try and make sure we can fulfill those criteria of explaining change and holding people along the journey for change ... as we get to the outcomes."

In March, Gillard becomes chair of the board of the Global Partnership for Education, which has mobilized $4 billion for education. Looking ahead, she emphasized the importance of the upcoming replenishment round and working with developing countries on their whole education plan. She said that:

GPE has mobilized the best part of $4 billion to make a difference for education in some of the poorest countries on earth, and that effort can only be sustained and added to if we have a successful replenishment round. So my sense is that there is a lot of momentum … we can't risk having that momentum stall.

If the replenishment round goes well … there are various goals that GPE will be pursuing. But they do include getting millions more children into education and improving the quality of education for those children.

On working with developing countries, Gillard said that

it's about how GPE can work with developing countries on their whole education plan so that it's not just mobilizing GPE dollars or other donor dollars but mobilizing every dollar that is being spent within a country on education so that it is being at its most effective for the children and their learning outcomes.

Follow the discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #GlobalEdu.

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