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New UK Funding to Boost Education Opportunities for Women and Girls in South East Asia

At the 2023 Education World Forum the International Development Minister launched a Girls’ Education and Skills Programme following the UK-ASEAN Plan of Action.

A new UK funded programme will offer some of the most marginalised women and girls in Southeast Asia a better future by boosting access to a quality education. 

Funding will go towards improving the quality of education for women and girls by prioritising teaching basic reading and maths skills to unlock their full potential.

The programme will expand women and girls’ access to digital and technical education – focusing on what skills are needed to gain employment in high-skill sectors such as technology and manufacturing.

It will also promote the inclusion of remote and minority communities, urban poor and children with disabilities by setting up disability assessments to identify additional needs and medical referrals for eye tests.

International Development Minister Andrew Mitchell will announce the funding at the Education World Forum (EWF) conference in London today, the largest international gathering of education ministers.

Minister for Development Andrew Mitchell said: Greater gender equality brings freedom, boosts prosperity and strengthens global security. Countries can’t develop if half the population are held back from fulfilling their full potential. 

This means working in partnership with countries to provide a quality education for all with a focus on girls to address the barriers they face including violence, poverty, harmful gender norms and climate change.

We’re working with partners across Southeast Asia to tackle the learning crisis and improve education and future employment opportunities of women and girls to ensure a prosperous future.

Around 140 million children in Southeast Asia experienced loss of education due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is made worse by low quality schooling, learning poverty, limited access to schools in rural areas, education that fails to equip students with workplace skills and girls dropping out of school because of early marriage.

In the ASEAN region, girls make up a larger proportion of out of-school children at primary level. This limits opportunities in later life and increases the risks of facing early marriage, young pregnancy and poverty. 

The new UK funding of £30 million will address these barriers to education for the 1.2 million girls threatened with permanent school drop-out through cost-effective measures such as merit-based scholarships, girls clubs and catch up classes to ensure children stay in school.

UK expertise will help schools improve the quality of teaching through lesson planning and in-class support so more children are able to read and understand a short story by the age of 10 years old. This means the programme will directly support progress towards the UK’s commitments for 40 million more girls in school and 20 million more girls reading.

The 5-year programme is the first in a series of new ASEAN-UK programmes designed to deliver on UK commitments as a dialogue partner and is further evidence of the UK’s renewed effort to prioritise educating girls as set out in the Women and Girls Strategy.

It is part of the UK’s effort to improve effectiveness of education and follows the recently announced Scaling Access and Learning in Education programme to help get an additional 6 million girls around the world into school.

The UK also launched a new report with the Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel and World Bank on ‘Cost Effective Approaches to Improve Global Learning’, which builds on the importance of early childhood education and provides recommendations covering health, nutrition and socio-emotional development.

Further information

  • ASEAN Girls Education and Skills Programme, funded by £30 million of UK support, will be delivered in Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Timor Leste
  • the programme has scope to deliver in Myanmar, with any support provided through independent NGOs or UN agencies. No funding will be provided to the military regime in Myanmar
  • the programme will focus on 4 main areas:
    • foundation learning
    • out-of-school girls and children with disability
    • gender barriers to digital skills and employment
    • enabling work on educating technology
  • the UK’s Dialogue Partner status was formalised in August 2021 with the first UK-ASEAN Plan of Action agreed in 2022

Source : GOV.UK