Foreign Aid & Education

The number of out-of-school children is on the rise at the same time as financing for education is in decline worldwide, and it is no surprise that the feeling of that echoing in Australia is certainly home to me. But today I do not want to talk about education in Australia. Yesterday, I met with representatives from RESULTS Australia about the Australian government's cuts to foreign aid. We discussed the importance of targeting education assistance towards early childhood education, increasing opportunities for marginalised children to complete primary education and, indeed, for there to be a global commitment to lifelong learning for all.

Previously the foreign affairs minister has referred to education as a 'central pillar' of the aid program. In September this year, the General Assembly of the United Nations will build on the Millennium Development Goals. Goal 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

I met with these people and gave them an assurance that I supported these goals and that I would urge this parliament to support us joining in with these goals. I also commend to the chamber the work of the Global Partnership for Education, where former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is now board chair. I call on the government to support the Incheon Declaration and to ensure that our education funding for aid remains above 20 per cent in the overall aid budget.

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