By Silvia Montoya, Director, UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Since the first school closures in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented education systems with unprecedented challenges. The declaration of the Global Education Meeting (GEM) in October 2020 captured the concerns of the international education community and a set of commitments that would need to be monitored.
On the occasion of the latest Global Education Meeting, which took place last week, on July 13, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) published a new Information Paper, which offers a progress report against these commitments based on the third round of the Joint Survey on National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures, conducted by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and OECD, and data available from government websites and publications.
GEM commitment 7.1 to increase education financing. Overall, global government spending on education as a share of total government spending decreased from 2019 to 2021. However,looking at the education budgets of more than 100 countries, affecting around three-quarters of the school-age population, most actually increased their education spending. Thus, the decrease seen between 2019 and 2021 means that spending in areas other than education have been increasing at a relatively faster pace, as a result of stimulus packages.
Budget on education as a proportion of total government budget, 2019–2021
A recent report for the G20 Education working group indicated that stimulus packages could have provided a substantial boost of education funding. Yet, on average, only 3.2% went to education, according to a UNESCO analysis as of April 2021.Continue reading