Petition: Call on the Irish Government to challenge global education budget cuts.

313 Actions Taken / Goal 3,000

 

We are calling on the Irish government to use their influence at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to champion teachers, and also to ensure our own international tax policies do not unfairly divert funds away from essential public services like education.

Ireland has a proud track record of funding and promoting education across the world, changing children’s lives and the communities around them.

But this vital work is being undermined by advice given by the International Monetary Fund, which continues to put pressure on low-income countries to cut public sector wage bills.

Lowering public sector wage bills means fewer teachers, on lower pay – and therefore children, especially girls, are more likely to miss out on an education.

Help children get the free, quality education that is their right.

Dear Minister Coveney and Minister Donohue,

Global education is in crisis.  

I am calling on the Irish government to challenge global education budget cuts, which are limiting the life chances of the world’s poorest children.   

Ireland has had a welcome and progressive focus on education globally as the catalyst to delivering the sustainable development goals. Ireland must ensure that this policy is not undermined by the role of the IMF. The Department of Finance and Irish Aid, in their engagement with the IMF, should focus on policy coherence in relation to our development policy and engagement with the international finance institutions questioning in particular the logic and rationale behind promoting austerity policies. Ireland ought to carry out a gender and human rights impact assessment on austerity policies in the countries that we support through development aid.

Ireland should make a commitment to the goals of the UN’s 2022 Transforming Education Summit TES and support the actions for Track 5 Financing of Education. Ireland should continue to champion education in its aid budget.

Thank you for championing education.

Yours sincerely, 

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Education is a powerful tool to help break the cycle of poverty. Yet at least 69 million more teachers are needed worldwide by 2030 to achieve the sustainable development goal on education. 

The Irish government recognises the vital role that education plays in transforming lives. It has committed to providing at least €250m towards education for five years from 2019. This will go a long way towards helping children everywhere gain essential literacy and numeracy skills.  

We must ensure that this commitment is not undermined by austerity measures promoted by the IMF, which will negatively impact children’s education.  

Our recent research shows that public sector wage cuts continue to be recommended by the IMF. ‘The Public Versus Austerity’ found the IMF advising governments to cut or freeze public sector wage bills in 78% of countries studied. Such cuts often disproportionally impact teachers as they are the largest single group on most public sector payrolls. This pushes down their pay and blocks much-needed recruitment of new teachers.  

In addition, Ireland’s own tax policies enable multinational companies to reduce the amount of tax they pay, which reduces the amount of funding available to governments for teachers and education.   

Unfortunately, the impact of wage bill cuts is felt triply and most acutely by women and girls. Girls are more likely to be excluded from accessing basic education when budgets are cut; women lose access to some of the best opportunities for decent work in the public sector as teachers and other education personnel; and both girls and women bear a disproportionate share of the unpaid care and domestic work that rises when public services fail.  

ActionAid Ireland, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) are calling on the Irish government to ensure its goals on global education are not undermined by the IMF’s austerity measures or its own tax policies.  

Read the full paper – Education Versus Austerity here.

How education transforms girls’ lives

Christine was forced to drop out of school in Kenya twice: the first time when her family could no longer afford the fees, and the second time when she fell pregnant.  

But she did not give up. Thanks to an ActionAid catch-up centre, which supports girls like Christine who have been forced out of education, she learnt basic literacy and numeracy skills. Now, aged 20, she is studying to become an engineer.  

Christine says, “I chose to be an engineer because when we joined the school, we were asked what we would like this project to do for us.  Many girls said they wanted to learn how to use a sewing machine, and some said hairdressing, so I said to myself: ‘If all of us here in the town choose hairdressing or fashion and design, who will saw for someone and who will do plates for someone?”.

“I asked if there was one type of job for women and another for men? The centre staff responded that a job is a job and that women have two hands and men have two hands. I then told them I am going to do engineering.” 

Christine is the only woman in her engineering class, and she is proudly learning how to dismantle and rebuild engines. Thanks to the catch-up centre, her future is bright, and she is championing gender equality to improve the lives of other girls in her community.  

“Once I’ve achieved my dream, all girls will know there is no job just for girls or just for boys. The way they see me working on these engines, they will take as an example,” she says. 

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