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Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will increase its commitment to the Global Partnership for Education fund. This initiative, founded in 2002, aims to strengthen education systems in developing nations around the world.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, PM Trudeau made a pledge to increase Canada’s contribution to the fund to $180 million for 2018-2020.

Trudeau made the promise as part of what his office described as “part of [Canada’s] Feminist International Assistance Policy”, which aims to improve global basic education in line with the GPE. Trudeau also specified the Canadian investment is “especially for girls”.

The prime minister has been outspoken on women’s rights and equality since he took office in 2015. He used a central address in Davos to highlight the ongoing movements in much of western society, such as the ‘MeToo’ and ‘Time’s Up’ campaigns, as well as the recent Women’s March in the US.

Trudeau has often been cast as an oppositional figure to neighbouring leader Donald Trump. Speaking before Trump at the WEF, the Canadian premier told those present that they are “immensely privileged”.

He added that “we owe it to society to use this privilege for good”.

As part of this commitment to equality, Trudeau’s Canada gave UN “Messenger for Peace” and female education advocate Malala Yousafzai honorary citizenship in 2017.

Before Trudeau’s announcement, Yousafzai had tweeted (through her own education fund) a call to “all world leaders” to extend financial backing to the GPE.

In a statement, Trudeau said the investment reflects the nation’s commitment to a world of quality basic education.

“Canada is committed to making sure young people around the world, especially girls, get the education they deserve. A quality basic education is one of the most important things we can do for children, and the path forward to a more gender equal, peaceful, prosperous world,” he said.

CEO of Global Partnership for Education,  Alice Albright said that Canada holding the G7 chair in 2018 creates an “opportunity” to take steps toward it’s goal.

“Canada’s leadership of the G7 this year is a great opportunity for to take the bold steps necessary to ensure that girls and boys everywhere have the opportunity of a quality education,” she said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Canada and other governments, to ensure that GPE reaches a funding level of at least US$2 billion per year by 2020,” Albright added.

GPE has recently updated its vision for a “Global Goal” which calls for “inclusive, equitable quality education for all by 2030”.

The $180 million pledge follows Canadian investments of $57.6 million between 2011-2014, and $120 million for the 2015-2018 period.

The GPE seeks to raise US$3.1 billion for 2018 to 2020 to support up to 89 developing countries and drive improved quality and access to education for 870 million children and youth

With the pledges received during the 2018-2020 period, the GPE aims to help 19 million additional children to complete primary school, including 9.4 million girls and over 10.8 million children in countries affected by fragility or conflict.

It also aims to help 6.6 million additional children to complete lower secondary school, including 3.9 million girls and 3.9 million children in countries affected by fragility and conflict.

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