Board Chair, Global Partnership for Education; Former Prime Minister of Australia
Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy, Council on Foreign Relations
Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, joins CFR Senior Fellow Gayle Tzemach Lemmon to examine global education. Gillard frames her analysis in terms of the rapidly approaching deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the end of 2015. Universal access to primary school, one of the MDGs, remains a distant prospect, notes Gillard, with 58 million children still unable to access this basic right. Gillard goes on to describe the necessary global steps, both in 2015 and longer-term, to realize international goals related to improving access to, and the quality of, education.
LEMMON: I'm going to take advantage of the fact that we have a full house to actually do something revolutionary and start early.
I'm going to do it because we have the good fortune of having former Prime Minister Gillard here with us, which is terrific, and there's so much ground to cover and so much knowledge and expertise in this room that—that, you know—Megan (ph) from our meetings (inaudible) had the wonderful idea of, let's go ahead and begin. And so I would love to do that.
I want to start by saying I'm Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. I'm a senior fellow here at CFR.
And I'm really glad to see all of you here today, because I think the issues that we're talking about are really urgent.
And the real challenge we always have is to translate what happens in fancy rooms and fancy places with water, power, light, infrastructure, lights that go on when you flip the switch, to places in the world where girls are walking several miles against incredible odds for the privilege of sitting in what may or may not be an actual classroom, and fighting so bravely all the obstacles they see in front of them.
And for me, having had the privilege of spending time in Afghanistan and other places where they are the example and the role model, I think, are (ph)—is so inspiring that leads us to keep this in the policy discussion and I know that motivates so many of you in your work, certainly, our lunch guests, that I wanted to just say thank you for being here, and I look forward to our conversation.
A few announcements here.
We are asking you to please turn off your phones—I have been—it says here, "No putting it on vibrate"—to avoid interference with the sound system, because we will be recording this today.
I also would remind everyone that this meeting is on the record.
Let me also thank Megan (ph) from our meetings team and Hannah (ph) from my team (ph) for all of the work in organizing this and in bringing us together today.
So I will briefly read Prime Minister Gillard's bio, but, you know, so many of you know, so I'm just going to read a couple sentences so I can get right into the questions.
She is the board chair of the Global Partnership for Education. Prior to this, she was prime minister of Australia between 2010 and 2013, during which time, she implemented a series of reforms, including on the education front, health care fronts, care for the aged, health care for children and families in Australia, and the first-ever national scheme to care for people with disabilities.
Since leaving politics—she assured me today this was not an intermission in politics, but post-political life—you could ask that for yourself—that she is really focused on global education.
And I would first turn the floor to you and say thank you for joining us. We're delighted to have you.
GILLARD: Thank you so much to Gayle for that introduction, and thank you to the team that's just done such a magnificent job setting everything up for today. I'm truly grateful.
If I could just start by two shoutouts to the audience that's gathered, to Josephine, a great friend of mine from Australia. It's wonderful that she's here.
Josephine knows that in September and October, I'm coming to New York for a month, and I'm bringing my sister, who will come to the U.S. for the first time. So she's going to be on Josephine's program to see New York, so if you've got any ideas, please feel free to contribute them.
And then the second shoutout is to Alice Albright, who is with us, who is the chief executive officer of the Global Partnership for Education, which it's my very great privilege to chair.
I just wanted to open up quickly and then allow the conversation with Gayle and the discussion around the table to happen.
GILLARD: I just wanted to say three things, really, to talk to you very briefly about the size of the challenge in education, to talk to you about why we should are about that challenge, and then to talk to you about 2015 and what will happen in this pivotal year and what we need to make sure we achieve before this year ends.
First, the size of the challenge. The Millennium Development Goal was set almost 15 years ago. We're coming to the end of the MDG 15-year time period. The Millennium Development Goal was universal access to primary school. A lot of progress has been made, but there are still 58 million children who do not get to go to primary school and many of them, around 28.5 million of them are in fragile and conflict-affected places.
Then when we look beyond access, obviously the Millennium Development Goal was asking us to look at access. When we look beyond access to quality, we see that there are around 250 million children in our world who get access to some schooling, some of them for up to four years. But when they are asked to perform basic literacy and numeracy tasks, they can't do it.
So yes, they've gone and sat in something called a school, but they haven't achieved learning in that environment. And at the end of the day, we send our children to school because we want them to learn, not just because we want them to attend something that is called a school.
So the dimensions of the challenge are large, and that's just talking about primary school, before we get to lifting ambition to lower secondary school, then to secondary school.
Why should we care about this as a problem? Well, we are all very good-hearted people, and so there's an emotional connection I think with this issue. It tears at our heart that so many millions of children around the world don't get the benefit of an education and all of the opportunities and choices that come for girls and boys, but I would particularly emphasize girls if they do get the benefit of an education.
But I think that there are two other lenses we can bring to looking at why this problem matters beyond the human rights, emotional commitment lens. And the first of them that I would advocate to you is actually the national security—security policy lens. Many great thinkers, including here at the council, have obviously set their eyes on the phenomenon of violent Islamic extremism and what we can do to counter it—what we can do to counter radicalization.
Now, I'm not here to talk about the Islamic state and security and defense issues today. But I would make the following observation that in my view, anger is basically disappointed hope. And so if we have children who are displaced from somewhere like Syria and they are being housed and kept in circumstances where they do not get educated, if they become young adults who see absolutely no prospect in their lives of change, of peace, of stability, of economic advancement, should we truly be surprised that the outcome of that is anger and the potential for radicalization? I'd suggest to you, no, we shouldn't.
We also know statistically that if you do things like survey in Arab states that the difference in tolerance—expressed tolerance towards other religions from people who have had the benefit of an education, they are likely to express tolerance by a margin of 14 (ph) percent more than people denied an education.
Now, is education the complete vaccine to Islamic extremism? No, it's not. I'm not putting that case. That case would be naive. At the end of the day, some of the principal terrorist actors in our world have been very educated people. But it is certainly true to say that in terms of radicalizing and attracting foot soldiers that the aspect—that the absence of prospects for the future makes a difference. So I think that there is a national security lens here.
There is also an economic lens. And of course, the global economic divide at the moment is in a, you know, lively discussion between those who see differences stemming from technology, whether we are in a productivity slump, and technology isn't the solution, or whether you're reading books like "The Second Machine Age," and you see in technology a wonderful source of future productivity and a great change in how we live and work.
Wherever you are on that spectrum, I think it is true to conclude that even in the poorer parts of the world, in developing countries, over time, the return rate for people who do not have an education will be less and less. It's already true in our own labor markets that there's less space than there used to be for people without an education and who are unskilled.
I think actually technology and its ability to displace even very lowly paid labor means that in many developing countries there will be less space in those economies for people who do not have the benefits of an education. So for maximizing prosperity in the global economy, education matters.
What are we going to do about it? Well, this is a big year of change and debate, much of it here in New York, but around the globe beyond as we move towards (inaudible) week in September and the shaping of the sustainable development goals. We get to September on a march that takes us through a World Education Forum in Korea, a high-level education summit in Oslo, a financing conference in Addis, and then here in September to the New Sustainable Development Goal agenda.
What are we going to do to make sure that whatever goals emerge, particularly in education, aren't just nice words on U.N.-embossed paper, but they actually have meaning? Well, in my view, to make them have meaning, we have to this year solve the financing challenge for education. We at the Global Partnership for Education held a very highly successful in the education community replenishment round last year. We raised $2.1 billion of donor funds and mobilized $26 billion of additional domestic education expenditure from our developing country partners, and we have 60 of them.
But compared with the heft and scale of global health funds, we are still at a very modest size. And I can assure you that the capacity constraints of the Global Partnership for Education is not ambition. It's not an operational model that can work at the capacity constraint it's financing. We see that education financing by the donor community has gone back by a rate of 10 percent. And in humanitarian appeals, education is lucky to get a couple of percent.
We need to change these equations. If we're going to lift our ambition to universal access to lower secondary, then the financing gap between all sources of money that flows to finance education, domestic expenditure as well as donor expenditure, expenditure by multilateral bodies like GPE (ph), is on the order of $22 billion annually.
So this is a year to get very serious about making sure we emerge from this (inaudible) crisis with real investment in global education, which we are ready, willing, and able to be the organization that operationalizes. So, this is the year for advocacy. Of course, big donations in the modern age don't just come from governments, they come from high-impact donors, and we are obviously looking in the education space behind donors and champions as well.
How much will it matter to the future of our world?
Well, you know, having served as a national leader, now serving in this global conversation, I am absolutely convinced that there's no contemporary challenge when you hold it up to the light and really examine it that education isn't a part of the solution to.
And so if we neglect that part of the solution, then these contemporary challenges, we won't—we will fail to solve. So, dialog in there, and very happy to have the conversation to come.
LEMMON: I mean, you've given us a great deal to think about. And I'm going to throw out all the questions that I had previously, and we're just going to have a conversation for a couple of minutes, and at about 1:30 we will open it up to the conversations in terms of format.
So, I want to start by asking you about this idea of disappointed hope, squashed potential. And I wonder how much do you think that the education conversation is actually seen as part of the conversation about what's happening with the enticement and the attraction of radicalization, and how you see policymakers actually putting those two themes together.
GILLARD: I think that there are two conversations, and we need to join them up. I think there's the education conversation in the global education community, which tends to be in many ways the same people talking to the same people, and then over here we've got the security community that is increasingly focused on the pathways to radicalization in—in developing countries and displaced populations, and then also the difficult conversations about people amongst our own societies who then go and put themselves into the fight.
So, in Australia we've had a number of young people who have gone over to fight with the Islamic State. Interestingly, many of them are people not from—not brought up in Islam. They are not from Muslim families. But at, you know, some point, 15, 16, 17, they have hitched their, you know, wagon and emotions and intellectual endeavors to these radicalizations.
So, I think there are two conversations. We've got to join them up. We've got to make sure that there's a common language to talk about it. I had a funny conversation with Strove Talbott (ph) at Brookings, where I serve as a—a distinguished fellow. During the course of last week, I was running past him in a corridor, and he's saying oh, what are you doing? And I said oh, I'm at a seminar on non-state actors. And then I saw him for dinner on Sunday night and he said you know, what was your seminar on non-state actors like? It was quite clear after the first sentence I was talking about non-state actors in the provision of education, and he was talking about non--- non-state actors in the security environment, and we were not on the same thing.
So, you know, we need to make sure that there's a language so the—the conversation can be held together. But it—it needs to be joined up or we're not going to find the answers.
LEMMON: Well, you, know then people say well, look, but education isn't at the center of it because look how educated so many of the young people are who are joining groups that may be quite at the center of these extremist discussions. I (inaudible).
GILLARD: I think—I think this is complex. And I—I don't put the proposition that it's all about education. But I do put the proposition that a section of it is about education. And if we imagine our world in ten or 15 years' time when, hopefully through counterterrorism and security endeavors, some of the principle personalities who we know how are terrorist actors in our world have been dealt with in the way in which Osama Bin Laden was finally dealt with.
If you imagine that word—and I think that that's possible—what happens next? And part of the answer, indeed a big part of the answer in my view of what happens next, is how many people get grown up to take their place, either has leaders or as combatants who take directions. I think that 5- or 6-year-old today is placed in a fragile environment, a conflict affected country. If we don't give that 5- or 6-year-old any hope or any prospects, then he or she is far more likely to hear th siren song of radicalization and succumb to it.
And I would note that at the Global Partnership for Education, 40 percent of the developing country partners we work with are fragile or conflicted-affected places. So we are working in these environments now. We can show a successful track record of doing that. And I think upscaling that work has to be kind of that global future.
LEMMON: So I want to pick up on two pieces on that. One, I want to give a small plug for a paper we did here at CFR called "Fragile States and Fragile Lives." It's about child marriage in fragile states. And it's exactly what you're saying. You really are—one day we hosted an event at CFR in D.C. And at the same time—it was on child marriage in fragile states. At the same time there was an event on the quadrennial defense review. So all the men came in and went to the QDR meeting, and all the women came in and went to the child marriage meeting. And it was so depressing, because you're though—you know, this is exactly the issue; right? You're talking about the same parts of the world very often.
Nine out of ten of the countries with the highest rates of child marriage are considered fragile by OECD. Look at the failed states index. At three of the bottom of the ten failed states in there have child marriage rates above 40 percent. So I think it's that whole quest that you're onto sort of put that conversation together is so very important.
And on this funding front, before we get back to (inaudible), Gordon Brown (ph) was here with the head of UNHDR (ph) not too long ago. I think last September. And he said the reason why he thought it was so underfunded, education, was because the people who controlled the wallets were not seasoning their children to those schools. And I wonder, you know, why don't you think that there is this personal sense of urgency from the policymaking community and the wallet-toting community?
GILLARD: I think there are a few answers to that. Gordon's given you one. And it's a powerfully emotional resonant one. I think that there are a few reasons driving it. One, education is a patient investment.
GILLARD: And the global donor community, governments that put money into development—I know what it's like to make those decisions in tough budget environments, and I know what that's like to make those decisions when there's always a section of your population who say charity begins at home, why are we sending this money overseas, anyway? My kid's school needs something. You know, that is lively and in many nation—happily not my own—but in many nations that is stroked to political effect by ultra right-wing politicians. And we are seeing that in many places in Europe.
So the reaction of (inaudible) governments to that has been to go to investments where they can show very quickly change. So, you know, yes, you can report 12 or 12 months or two years later how many children did you vaccinate, count them up. But what we can absolutely tell you is that child is not gonna get polio now. You know, we're on our way to getting rid of polio. That is very important work.
The timeframe for education though is longer. And so we do have to build political constituency us within countries that recognize you've gonna see the outcomes from education, you know, 7, 10, 12 years later, and have the patience to—to go the journey.
The second thing has been the metrics and the measures. I think people, because of the learning crisis, the 250 million who aren't learning, people have rightly lost faith in access measures. So children going to school isn't good enough anymore. Are they learning? And it's taking us some time to build the learning metrics that can satisfy people yes they are. But that job is being done. We will come out of this year—I mean, internally at GPA (ph) we have measures, but I think we will come out of this year with a global consensus built around a lot of ways of measuring. And a lot of work has gone into that.
That's the depressing bit, you know, why isn't it happening? The other side of it is born of the worst of tragedies, Malala's shooting and what happened to the Nigerian schoolgirls and a bit connected with the security conversation we've just been having, I think there is a global moment now around the girls' education. The fact President Obama and Michelle Obama last week in Washington announced a major initiative --
(UNKNOWN): And you were there.
GILLARD: —and I was there—shows that. And I think with that focus on girls' education, with us getting better at the measurement, with the clear needs, with the broadening of the dialogue to the foreign policy establishment, I think that we can in this year make a real difference to that sort of donor preference for return, globalized goods-style investments, which takes you to vaccines and medicines.
LEMMON: On this issue of the march (ph) of the conferences, (inaudible). (inaudible) been to an event where you're really out there trying to remember who's at the center of this conversation and so much of the work you do in fragile states. We're talking about where do you think we'll end up? Where do you think that the goals will end up on education? And are they at all achievable at the end of the day?
GILLARD: I think we—the open working group report, which sort of informed the global community about goals, I think that we are hitting towards those goals. I mean, they are very high level. People would say there are too many of them. But I suspect that we are heading towards those goals, and there's unlikely to be a substantial culling of the least (ph).
In terms of what lies beneath that for education, I think we'll end up with a (inaudible) of ambition to at least lower secondary, universal access to primary and lower secondary. And it will be associated with some quality measures. And I think that's a good thing. What—what I think we need to drive for though is that that is realizable. And it won't be realizable if the best estimate I can give you is over more than $20 billion funding gap annually. Now, I am certainly not suggesting that funding gap be filled by aid and development moneys. That's clearly absurd and not sustainable. We need to use aid monies to lever ranch up increased domestic investment in education. Some have fragile, conflict-affected places don't have that capacity. But there are a number of countries that do.
At the Global Partnership for Education, we've shown that that leverage can work. We leveraged up donor dollars. We've increased domestic expenditure. It's part of our model. You've got to be (inaudible) up with more money of your own in order to access the (inaudible) money. So there's ways of making, you know, an impactful amount of money do more than the individual dollars in the pile possibly could. But at $2.1 billion of replenishment for us last year in what was viewed by all as a very successful fundraising drive in this environment, what that's telling me is we need to change the environment.
LEMMON: And what is the role of the private sector?
GILLARD: I think the role of the private sector is—there are many things that can be done. And, you know, is being done today --
LEMMON: Enough, or --
GILLARD: I think more. I think we—in—in the countries where we work—and I've seen this myself—there is active, you know, low-cost private school provision. There are many philanthropists. There are many people who are thinking about impact investment. So there's all of that happening in country. And what we view our job as being is because we do the system strengthening piece, we can help, you know, capitalize th private investment so that it's going where it most needs to so we don't have a private philanthropist who is funding infrastructure that then turns out to be redundant or any of those, you know, horror stories (inaudible) that you hear from aid and development.
But at the global level, to be frank, we are still looking for the kind of change agent champion in the education space that Bill Gates has been in the health space. And, you know, once again, as a domestic national leader, you know, I know what it's like to have Bill Gates come for breakfast at your official residence. And I'm telling you, it only ends up one way. It ends up with you putting $70 million into (inaudible). That's where it ends. So you might as well just say bill, yes, sure, fine. Let's save that bacon and eggs and we'll go out and make the announcement. And—you know, and he has that impact around the world.
Now, there are many people in our world who—who are in happy position that they've got more money than they and their families could spend in a million lifetimes, living at very high-quality level. And so in those circumstances, I think we do need to find a few people who are prepared to step as that kind of ambassador and own investor into this space. And when you usually pull out the figures from something like (inaudible), the Global Fund for Aids, TB, and Malaria, which are a size and scale to make, you know, a very big impact on the problem they've been conceptualized to address. You know, the thing that strikes you is when you run your finger down the numbers, the individual contribution from Bill and Melinda Gates, you know, has got to be, you know, at the end, you know, of a billion (ph). You know, we need to see people who are prepared to put that kind of skin in the game for education.
LEMMON: That kind of scale?
LEMMON: You had talked about there need to be a data revolution when it comes to measuring education outcomes. But in fragile state, it's so hard to even measure to (inaudible). So many decades did Afghanistan go (inaudible) what's happening. People barely can keep up with the count of refugees now from Syria. And that number is probably wildly off because of how many urban refugees there are. So how do you do data and assessment in very tough parts of the world?
GILLARD: Once again, I think this is, you know, a horses for courses sort of intervention. I mean, no one could suggest in the early days of a mass displacement crisis that you should be, you know, measuring week by week if the children have improved in literacy and numeracy. I mean, the treaties at the moment, those children wouldn't be anywhere near something that looks like a place of education.
But through a process called the "Learning Metrics Task Force"—so yes, I acknowledge it's one for the aficionado. It's not a great way to spend Saturday night, learning metrics (inaudible). But, you know, me and Alice, we're unashamedly moved when it comes to this stuff. So it's the kind of stuff we worry about on Saturday nights. You know, we are chiseling through ways of supplying to developing country partners or giving them better access to data and assessment systems that are made available of the public good; that is that they do not have to spend any amount of money to access them. And then they are deployed in a meaningful way to give a feedback loop to policymakers and—and to teachers.
What we know from our own societies is—I did a huge transparency project you can look at yourselves for Austrian schools. Our website called myschool.edu.eu, you can see the results of every Australian school on literacy and numeracy. And many years of data in it now. If you're gonna really make that work as a feedback mechanism to policymakers and to the community, then you've got to think through carefully how it's used in terms of teacher accountability. We know that from our own domestic political debates and that sort of moves over into developing country context.
But I think we particularly more—more deployable resources for a sophisticated global platform to assist people with learning and assessment that we would see a great deal of movement in the data (ph). We, in our own work with countries where we—you know, what we do is work with them on the planning piece, as well as the funding bit. What we do with that planning piece is make sure country by country we can get more reliable data. So the data revolution is now a sort of standing feature of how we work.
LEMMON: My last question for you at the moment is you had written six months ago that in the final 500 days, we should turn our attention to tackling child marriage and education in conflict situation us.
On the issue of child marriage, is it at the center of conversations that you have around education? Because I often find that it's sort of the child marriage people are here and they're—you know, I have this issue and everybody's living in silos, even though the girls done live in silos.
GILLARD: No. Child marriage, particularly if I'm right that the world will lift ambition to lower secondary, universal access to lower secondary, that is where the issues about child marriage, about girls and their futures, you know, absolutely lie. The age range of girls being that we're talking about being in education are the age range of girls in many societies would be viewed as of marriageable age.
And so, you know, these contests about power, choices, life, what these—the future will be for these girls—will be absolutely central. For us in many countries in which we work, it's already right there. And we certainly want to stay, you know, in very good touch and very aligned with people who are working specifically on child marriage.
We've got to remember that this is—you know, there's a set of culture pre-dispositions and norms and practices. But there's the issue of poverty here. And, you know, for families, just on a straight economic basis, does it make sense to educate your girl or marry your girl? Well, it's a short-term/longterm return proposition. In the short term, it might make a lot of economic sense if you weren't bringing any other except prism (ph) except addressing your family's poverty to be thinking about marriage for your young girl.
We've got the change that equation so people can see the economic benefit of going to school. Sometimes that's direct thing, like in Cambodia we—one of the things we support is a school saving program. So if you send your girl to school, she gets a good meal every day. That alleviates the burden on your family of generating sufficient food for that child. So you can change the economic incentive there. But we've also got to be getting the massage through that the longer term economic path for that girl and her family will be advantaged by education.
LEMMON: And (inaudible) I have seen some made—there's a lot of people who are comfortable by that. But if you're trying to change the economics of what is the value of a girl, right, I mean, some of these come up up.
OK. I'd love to open to questions. Start here and then (inaudible).
QUESTION: Carole (ph) (inaudible) from Global Kids. Thank you very much for coming. I thank you for all you're doing.
I just wanted to address the issue of the private donors and someone—I think one of the problems with this is that often, private donors have their own visions and they also want to control the—the strategy and also the outcomes of whatever it is they're giving to. And so I—often, that means they are not really including the actual people on the ground, in the countries that they're thinking about, or even people who have tremendous experience in this field. So that's, to me, one of the issues. I wonder if you think about that.
And the other is even for young people, if they're getting funded to be sent to school, the schooling might reflect the ideology of the leadership of that country. Number (inaudible) seems to be another question. So I just wonder where you are on those two issues.
GILLARD: Sure. On the second, the curriculum issue. In my former life as Australian Prime Minister, we had a great deal of direct experience with this. Because one of the big objectives of a very sizable aid program into Indonesia was to lift the quality of Madrassa (ph) schools so that they could be registered as proper schools within the Indonesian system. And we enjoyed a lot of success.
The investment that I announced in that, which was a $500 million Australian investment when I first traveled to Indonesia as prime minister, became a bit controversial in the Australian context on the basis that sort of charity begins at home. And we'd just had a summer of very bad natural disasters, and there was a lot that needed to be done to rebuild infrastructure and lives in many parts of our own nation.
But, you know, I argued for that. And I certainly think the evidence is true that, you know, there's nothing more effective Australia could do in terms of longterm relations between us and Indonesia than that kind of investment in ensuring quality, curriculum and schooling. You know, not—not religious ideology, but schooling as we would conceive it. So I—I think that there are things that can be done. And certainly, they're own our agenda as we work within countries to address, you know, schooling, which is really dissemination of propaganda by any other name.
On—on the philanthropists, I think you've caught the view of a number—and certainly, I've had that conversation with people that want to, you know, be able to touch and feel it and keep it in very direct personal control. But I think that there are some—some philanthropists whose pain mission is impact. And they are looking at this in a very hard-headed business case kind of way. And at the end of the day, that is what Bill Gates did in the areas that he's chosen to work. You know, vaccines, unit cost, supply chains. You know, all of the kinds of things that in his former corporate life he would have had to have worried about. He brought that kind of analytical prism to the supply of vaccines to children around the world.
So people who do bring that analytic prism, I think we'll see that there are many occasions where there will be more impact for each of their dollars spent through working in a pooled arrangement, rather than free-standing investments.
QUESTION: I'm Cora Wise (ph) from (inaudible) Appeal for Peace, a founder of the Global Campaign for Peace Education.
You're talking and your being reminds me that maybe you should become the role model for future heads of states to be required to have some time in education. Wouldn't be a bad call (inaudible).
You've referred to numeracy and literacy several times. Traditionally, in English in the Western world, at least, the three Rs are the traditional base of education. And I know that it has expanded. But we talk about a fourth R, reconciliation. And you've spoken about hatred, the children who hate. You've spoken about the children in violent conflict. How are they going to live together with their neighbor when the war is over?
So we talk about integrating peace education into the curriculum with a methodology of participation, critical thinking, and reflection, which is very important. And the content which can be done without making it a separate course of teaching for and about democracy, human rights, gender equality, disarmament, nonviolence, sustainable development. And the point is that children have to learn how to stop other-izing the other. And have—the teachers have to help in implementing peace agreements, otherwise who's going to?
So Malalal (ph) keeps reminding me all the time that in her Nobel Peace speech she said send teachers, not tanks; send boobs, not bombs. Maybe we should remind the men who go into the quadrennial review meeting of that speech.
So my question is to what extent are you concerned about the curriculum of your educational program? And to what extent can you suggest the idea of integrating the concept of peace education so that we eliminate hatreds in schools, we exchange teachers, and so forth?
GILLARD: We—our model of working isn't that we have a GPE curriculum or a GPE teacher development model or a GPE standard size for school infrastructure or any of that. Our—our model is we work intensively with the developing country to make sure they have a robust school sector plan. School systems have to be planned. In our own countries we know that. There know there are factories of people that that's their job, to plan the school system so when the doors open at the end of holidays, there's a school there and teachers and teachers with the capability to conduct lessons and the instructional materials and everything else that goes into making a school.
So in developing country context, we work with the developing country to generate a robust education sector plan. We work not only with government, but with in-country actors in forming what we call a "local education group." So everyone comes together; civil society, government, teachers, donors who are in the field bilaterally, philanthropists who are in the field. So in catalyzing the plan, we are also creating the right forum and the right discussion for coordination and collaboration so you don't have people running over the top of each other, the laptops that get provided to schools with no electricity, and all of that kind of thing.
And then, of course, for our countries that most need funds, then we partially fund the implementation of the plan and monitor and evaluate that it is being implemented so that it is not just a set of words on a piece of paper, but it's actually making a difference to the education of child. So in all of that, we would not roll out of Washington into Sierra Leone and say here's the curriculum. But—but—that wouldn't work. It couldn't work. It couldn't possibly work.
But what we can do through that model is, you know, obviously push and prioritize in the development of the plan and its implementation things that we believe to be real—real needs. You know, so we highlight, for example, girls' education. We push that universal means universal. You don't leave the kids with disabilities behind or the kids that would be described as other behind; that it is robust, quality education, that it's not propaganda, that's it's not—you know, not teaching people what I would refer to the kind of life skills. That you're really talking about certainly life skills in a more difficult context than the one in which we live. But, you know, those skills of recognizing others as people, treating them with respect, resolving disputes peacefully. I mean, these are skills we try to impart to our own children. So, you know, that's—that's the way we work and how we would influence what happens within country.
QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Prime Minister. Thank you for the work that you and Alice and everybody at GPE does. My name isn't Easton Jordon (ph) I work a with Malala at the Malala Fund. Her big issue this year is very simple, related to the SBGs. And that is that lower secondary school is not good enough. And especially coming from a school who's in upper secondary school to tell a 17-year-old that she doesn't need that education, that's not required of governments around the world, it's not good enough.
So she started a campaign that she unveiled two days ago in an appearance with Hilary Clinton and Melinda Gates where her theme was aim higher. The world needs to aim higher. Twelve years of quality education, free quality education, is what Malala is going to fight for this year. It is going to be her biggest fight of the year. And so my question for you is what can we together do to make sure that that goal is accomplished as part of the SBGs?
GILLARD: Well, my congratulations would go to—to her for that level of ambition. That's fantastic. And obviously, Malala speaks with the benefit of her personal experience and, consequently, a loud voice not global debate, which is fantastic too. And the foundation is doing such great work. So congratulations to you.
I would say, you know, at the—what happens here in New York in September is the culmination of a series of discussion and technical processes. But what does it mostly reflect? It reflects political will. And how do you mobilize that political will? Well, by mobilizing within countries so that the representatives here at the United Nations, when they exercise their votes and when the leaders come to town, that they have on their mind that there is a clear constituency in their own country to say maximum ambition for education.
I would say this, though. The maximum ambition for education has to be around the goal and around the achievement of the goal. And the achievement of the goal is about mobilizing more finance than we have now. So, you know, to—to not only see Malala achieve that as an SBG, but to actually see her over the next 15 years of her life witness that being realized is gonna require ambition on the financing too.
QUESTION: Hi. Thanks. I'm Susan Davis (ph) with BRAC (ph). I lead BRAC (ph) USA. And I wanted to pick up on—Gail, on what you were saying, as well as the whole thread of your joined-up conversation. So, I mean, maybe this is something that our CFR colleague cans help us all as members to implement. We need—we need a joined-up conversation here. And maybe if we frame the—the discussion and the topics, that will get the men and the women, the security guys who have all the money.
I mean, it's 22 days what we spent in Afghanistan. It's just a pittance, $22 billion. Quite frankly, you know, BRAC spends a billion dollars a year trying to do our work. And—and we have 44,000 teachers. And it is in all the same places you're worried about. But we see—we see what the U.S. and ISAF (ph) forces and all can do when we want to. Or our—our work in Afghanistan or Liberia, Sierra Leone. I mean, please, the neglect that goes on. It's (inaudible) until there's ebola and we think oh, my God, it might come here.
So in terms of education finance, we need a joined-up conversation about military in education finance or the human security with our—I mean, (inaudible) has been saying this forever. And I think because the money's here in New York and we have the power of Wall Street, that maybe this is the time for us to convene us a social impact bond discussion. Because that's what we're talking about. We need—we need a patient capital instrument. It is possible to put it together. We could do it overnight when we had to bail out our banking system due to our own situation, October 2008. You remember? I mean, please. Let's—let's—let's organize. I really—I think if the Council on Foreign Relations can't do this with the power of Malala behind us, you know, why not—why not give it a try?
GILLARD: Here, here is what I should be saying to that. I'm going back to my House of Representatives days where you would hear those shouts.
Look, this is—this is not an easy task, educating every child in the world. But it is not beyond the capacity of human beings to do if we want to. And if that is right, then the gap between us and educating every child in world an absence of will, expressed in practical outcomes. So not—not nice-sounding statements. But practical outcomes that bring the finance and the best of the models of working and actually gets the job done.
And it's will in countries like the U.S. and countries like my own, countries that are able, capable, do make investments in aid and development. It's the will also within the developing countries that need to step up to develop capacity and to invest more domestic financing. I mean, some of the countries with sizable out-of-school school populations are middle income countries. So it's really there a question of the political force to make sure that their schooling systems are properly organized so kids get to go and kids learn.
So I—I agree with you. And on the dialogue with the foreign policy national security community, I think that that is such an important bit; that anything that can happen here in New York, in this room or beyond is very, very valuable.
LEMMON: And then I'll come back over here.
QUESTION: Madam Prime Minister, thanks very much for being here. I'm Ron (inaudible). I teach at Amherst (ph) College. I'm a political scientist.
And I would like to say something a little controversial. It's easy—it's easy, it's obvious, to make the distinction between what we call education education; that is reading, writing, and things like that and a national security aspect. And I'm interested in what you were saying about the national—the relationship between education and national security.
The controversial point I'd make is this. I think we need to make a distinction, the distinction between radicalism on the one hand or radicalization and terrorism and savage military (OFF-MIKE). Because in—in a sense, radicalism and radicalization is perfectly comprehensible. What I'm gonna say goes to what (inaudlbe) was saying. Amherst (ph) College is part of a five college (inaudible) consortium. And for a long time, I was part of a group called Peace and World Security Studies. And you can imagine that some people were essentially peace people, and some people were essentially world security people.
And one of the issues was is it possible to teach peace? And somebody like me was saying well, peace is not foreign to the discussion of national security. So—and I'll give an example and then I'll, you know, get to the end. (inaudible) China today. China, for a lot of people in the West, policymakers, has begun an assertive foreign policy. Anybody who, you know, knows some of the Chinese would say well, that makes sense. Other people would say, well that's radical. The Chinese are acting in a radical way because of the century of, you know, humiliation and all that. It makes perfect sense to the Chinese, the Chinese who are behaving as a state would behave.
So I'd like to get your reaction to this. It seems to me that let's say in addition to teaching peace—and you can perhaps imagine I'm kind of skeptical (inaudible) that—to that it would be very important the teach history and politics in the sense of explaining what do you do with what happened to the Middle Eastern countries? (OFF-MIKE).
LEMMON: —look at it like it's that gap, right, between what you want to do and where you are on the ground also I think is what your question is getting at.
GILLARD: I mean, we could talk a lot about—about China and my region of the world maybe on other occasion. But on—on this question of—of why education matters, can you teach habits of cooperation and peaceful dispute resolution and a—imbibe a culture of not wanting to see violence and to see reconciliation for—for past wrongs. I'm happy to defer to the experts on that.
I was recently in Rwanda though, where it's 21 year since the genocide. And obviously, these things are thought about very deeply, for very pressing and good reasons. So, you know, whether you could teach peace, we could have a lively conversation about that. But what you can certainly do is give people the capabilities so that they can see a future. It's—you know, if—if—we know it in our own societies that if people are pushed to the edge of despair, hopelessness, no choices, grinding poverty, we know from our own societies that that can—not always, not every individual—but it can foster anger and violence and then all of the consequences that come with violence.
Now, what—what is true for us I think, you know, is true for, you know, the world; that this is a—this is a human—human trait, part of the human condition. If you think tomorrow is going to be as woefully hopeless as the misery you live in now, surly something—some false promise about a dramatic change to that order through violence is going to be more seductive than if you can imagine for yourself a future that is better in five year than today is and better again in ten years and better again in 15 years. So it's that investment in the future that really I'm sort of putting before you as the—as the pivot point that education brings in a human being's life in the circumstances that we're talking about.
You know, and many of these kids, you know, fragile places, displaced populations. You know, people aren't refugees for a month, you know, since 17 years is the kind of period that people routinely spend in these displaced situations. Well, that's the difference between being a baby and being at the end of what we would call normal schooling, and that person hasn't been to school for a day. So, you know, I think you do make a difference to that person in their life if you've use those years in between for a proper education.
LEMMON: For manufacturing hope I guess is the (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you so much for copping. And to both of you and all of your colleagues for all the hard work. Really, if you have $10 development dollars to spend, education is really the place. And for girls, it's especially.
The NDGs (ph) have seen—I'm sorry. I'm from Women Deliver. Not just babies. I'm sure you all know that. Not everybody everywhere does know that. We are working on it.
The NDGs (ph) have really—have seen a lot of progress. But for sure, there's still 31 million girls who should be in school who aren't in school. And it's—it's the key that unlocks a lot. I mean, my question has to do with what your strategy is to change the tide of political will. Because that's what's in shortfall. There are economic arguments. Can we make them stronger and better? Can we shorten somehow the timeframe from a longterm to some intermediate terms and maybe even some short terms? The emotional argument doesn't go very far. It goes a little way. But it's got to be accompanied by the economic and security arguments for sure.
The NDGs (ph) have been accused of being loved on the East River, but not far beyond. The sustainable development goals have a really opportunity to be loved, perhaps, but at least accepted by governments and by people every place. And it seems to me that that's where our strategy needs to go. So I'd like to know what your priorities are and your strategy might change to help us make progress better and faster.
GILLARD: Yes, OK. Thank you. I think maybe a little bit harsh on the NDGs (ph). We're talking about them like they're a set of individuals now, I know, whether they're loved or unloved. But I think the evidence is that the NDGs have catalyzed global efforts. And they've certainly done that in education. I don't think that we would have made the progress we have without the my millennium development goals.
I also think they've catalyzed public opinion in many donor nations. You know, you might be prime minister, but you're also still a local member of parliament. I would have had dozens of meetings with voters in my constituency who asked to see me because they were NDG (ph) advocates. And they're come and in they've have all of their pieces of paper, and they would be trying to persuade you of additional efforts about the NDGs.
Now, I don't think that's something about (inaudible) Australia. I think that that is a common phenomenon for elected representatives here and the U.K, across Europe, and beyond. So, you know, not perfect, but a lot of good's being done. The (iaudible), I think that kind of political mobilization that makes political space creates political demand on, you know, global figures, national leaders, is very important in the time period that we are in now. And whether I'm a disturbed romantic optimist or not, I feel like there is more focus on education in the discussions in the lead-up to those pivotal global conferences than perhaps people give credit for. I actually think, you know, we've got to be realistic about the dimensions of the problem. But we shouldn't talk ourselves down into and it's all hopeless and nothing's going to be done. I think we should talk ourselves up into ambition and activism.
And I—you know, I have an optimistic sense that ambition and advocation this year in particular can make a difference.
LEMMON: We have exactly two minutes. So I want to just ask you to keep the questions --
QUESTION: Yes. Ed Cox, founder and the former chairman of the State University of New York's Charter School Institute.
I'd be interested in knowing what the Global Partnership is doing with respect to fragilized and fragile economies. With respect to connecting basic education, wrapping it around a real livelihood so that it has a—it resonates practically with the people who are getting the education, has a meaning for them. For instance, microfinancing or something like that being a part of the basic education.
GILLARD: We aren't in—we aren't in that space of the transition that you're pointing to between schooling and the economy and how you can make sure that people get real jobs, real opportunities or has the skills and the capabilities to be an entrepreneur. Not because I don't think it's important or, you know, Alice or others at GPE wouldn't think it's important. But the needs and capacity constraints in terms of the finances and such that we are still working as possible to realize the millennium development goals of universal access to primary school, and then build on it so that we can (inaudible) the Malala's vision of secondary school for children. You know, we're working predominantly in that space.
But I recognize that there is a major issue here about the connection points between education and real economic futures. And there are some societies where we can see the phenomenon of highly educated youth who are still not able to access the labor market. We are tending to work at a different spot in the development agenda where. We're not talking about large numbers of highly educated youth, because there hasn't been the educational capacity to—to, you know, provide schooling to people in large numbers.
LEMMON: Prime Minister, we've talked about the will, the wallet, and where the world will go. So I really think that this will be a great place to think about the next set of conversations. And thank you for joining us. And thank you so much to all of you being part of the conference.