The Prime Minister announced on June 16th that the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will merge into a single Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) from 1st September 2020.
Since DFID was created, UKFIET has worked closely with the Department across its initiatives to promote educational development. UKFIET Trustees wrote to Ministers with their concerns – the full letter and issues of concern can be read here.
UKFIET hopes the development of the FCDO is seen as an opportunity to focus strategically on education as a key component of development, sustain momentum to ensure all girls are educated, and encourage balanced investment that universalises access and enhances access in ways that are financially sustainable. The FCDO should enhance the cadre of education advisors to increase its reach and impact.
UKFIET has since received a response from Baroness Sugg CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education. Her letter is copied here below.
UKFIET Trustees are encouraged to read that the new Department is committed to maintaining the target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on overseas development. In particular, the FCDO will continue to invest in education. Promoting 12 years of quality education for all children, especially girls, by 2030 was a key commitment in the election manifesto and thankfully remains a top priority for the government.
UKFIET is especially reassured that the FCDO wishes to continue to show global leadership by investing in robust evidence on ‘what works’ for girls’ education, as well as high-quality research in other priority areas such as sustainable system reform, early childhood development, education technology and education in conflict and crises.
The UKFIET community remains available to continue to partner closely with policy and research advisers from the newly formed FCDO. We are sharing the response letter here from Baroness Sugg to show our commitment in this area, and the start of a collaborative engagement.
Baroness Sugg CBE
Professor Keith Lewin, Board Chair and
By email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
17 August 2020
Dear Keith, dear Caine,
Thank you for your letter of 2 July addressed to the Foreign Secretary and Development Secretary, regarding the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and for sharing your four priorities for consideration in the merger. I am replying as Minister responsible for the Children, Youth and Education department at the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the UK’s Special Envoy for Girls’ Education.
With the formation of this new department comes a huge opportunity for the UK to have an even greater impact and influence on the world stage, as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare to hold the G7 presidency and host COP26 next year. As we move forward, we recognise the importance of consultation with experts, so thank you for taking the time to share your recommendations.
Regarding your recommendation to maintain the focus of aid on low-income countries, the FCDO is committed to continuing UK leadership on development and humanitarian support, with our world-leading expertise at the front and centre, to ensure UK support reaches those who need it the most. The UK is currently the only G7 country to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on overseas development – the UK Government remains committed to this target, which is enshrined in law.
I am grateful for your recommendations to protect education investments and to continue to support high quality education research. Promoting 12 years of quality education for all children, especially girls, by 2030 was a key commitment in the election manifesto and remains a top priority for this government, and for the Prime Minister personally. We face unprecedented numbers of out of school children, with very many more now at risk of never going back to school.
As you rightly point out, we must be driven by the evidence of where the need is greatest and what will work to improve learning outcomes at scale. In 2019/20, the DFID invested more than £14 million in education research. The UK will continue to show global leadership by investing in robust evidence on ‘what works’ for girls’ education, as well as high-quality research in other priority areas such as sustainable system reform, early childhood development, education technology and education in conflict and crisis. Leveraging world-class UK education expertise and our deep links to education ministries in lower- and middle-income countries will be central to this. Finally, we share your view on aid effectiveness and transparency and take huge pride in DFID’s track record on these issues, which will also be at the heart of the new FCDO.
The annual UKFIET forum is an important event in the education calendar and brings together UK and global expertise to examine some of the most important issues in global education. The conference, which attracts many high-quality international academics, is a key pathway for research impact. The UK’s technical education experts benefit greatly from the opportunity to contribute to and learn from these sessions, and this will remain the case as we move forward to create this new department.
Thank you again for getting in touch and for your continued dedication to this work. I look forward to continuing this valuable partnership on education research.