The G8 must renew its commitment to basic education worldwide

By Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report

Aid to basic education in sub-Saharan AfricaPrimary education is a fundamental building block of lives and livelihoods – and of wider development. But progress toward universal primary education has stagnated, there are still 57 million children out of school, and aid to basic education has dropped for the first time since 2002, as was revealed in a policy paper published this week by the EFA Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute of Statistics. Leaders of the G8 G8 aid to basic education in sub-Saharan Africacountries have a chance to do something about that by making a strong commitment to basic education at their summit in Northern Ireland next week.

The fall in aid is particularly bad news for sub-Saharan Africa, home to over half of the world’s out-of-school children: between 2010 and 2011, G8 donors reduced their spending on basic education in the region.

It is especially worrying that aid to basic education to sub-Saharan Africa from the World Bank’s International Development Association – to which G8 countries contribute – has declined dramatically since 2004: in 2011 the IDA gave less than a quarter of the aid to basic education to the region that it gave in 2002.

The most recent G8 accountability report confirms the trends identified by the EFA Global Monitoring Report: aid to basic education is one of three areas that the report classifies as only “satisfactory”. But the G8 report itself underestimates the needs of children around the world. By concentrating on countries eligible for financing from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the report estimates the financing gap at $1.2 billion – far short of the gap for all poor countries, which is $26 billion. This vastly underplays the full gravity of the shortfall in the G8’s commitments, as the Overseas Development Institute shows in its recent commentary on the G8 report.

The United Kingdom, which is now the largest bilateral donor to basic education in sub-Saharan Africa, has shown admirable leadership in meeting aid commitments and making basic education a high priority. Having assumed the presidency of the G8 this year, we encourage the UK to ensure that other G8 countries follow its lead.

The message is clear: strong, dependable funding to basic education is urgently needed; it is a crucial part of the solution to development crises such as malnutrition and hunger, and it is an essential to ensure all children can fulfil their potential.

* Source: EFA Global Monitoring Report team analysis based on OECD Creditor Reporting System (2013)

This entry was posted in Basic education, Donors, Finance, Group of 8, Nutrition, Out-of-school children, Poverty, Primary school, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The G8 must renew its commitment to basic education worldwide

  1. Ted kai says:

    oh,the future of the sub-saharan will be endanger


  2. Helen Abadzi says:

    IDA lending has declined because GPE is available for low-income countries. Let us not forget that countries have limited implementation capacity. They can hardly manage to spend the GPE money given to them.
    And throwing money at countries or at kids does not help them learn. Our brains are set up to ‘digest’ information in certain ways. The material to be learned must be cut down to small sizes. Unfortunately few people in the world have sufficient knowledge to guide goverments and donors.


  3. Pauline Rose says:

    Hi Helen – Thanks for the comment. It seems unlikely though that GPE has filled the gap left by the fall in IDA funding? Do you have the figures to show this?

    Also, my understanding is that GPE is there to help support countries with poor implementation capacity, so would hope this should become less of a constraint.

    We are not suggesting ‘throwing money at kids to help them learn’ – but rather the onus is on rich countries, and GPE, to provide the funds, and the guidance where needed, to ensure all children are in school and learning – so that no country is left behind due to lack of resources.



  4. Thanks Pauline for this important commentary on the G8 track record on education. Not only is the G8 communique underestimating the full cost of achieving EFA, but even focusing only on GPE’s estimate of partner countries’ needs, the G8 commitment to financing education is far less than required by the current reality and woefully outdated.

    In 2009 the GPE (then FTI) estimated that the expected demand from countries for its grant funding was $1.2 billion for an 18 month period. At the time the partnership had less than half the member countries it has now. And although the Alquila communique set out the commitment to fill that financing gap, then G8 countries did not come close to hitting the $1.2 billion target for GPE’s trust fund.

    By 2011, the partnership had grown to nearly 40 countries and during the GPE replenishment campaign, GPE estimated that the needs of these countries amounted to approximately $8 billion.

    By 2013, the GPE now has 58 partner countries, and the $1.2 billion estimate of the G8 is not only orders of magnitude below the GMR’s $26 billion estimate, but also far off from the current needs of GPE’s partner countries. Either way, it is time for the G8 to update their education commitment to reflect the current reality, given how much the world – and the demand for greater investments in education – has changed in the last 5 years.


  5. Carolyn Reynolds says:

    The record of support from the World Bank Group’s International Development Association (IDA) for basic education over the past decade is much brighter than this post indicates. As you can see from the MDG tracking chart on the World Bank’s education website (see link below), the trend of IDA support for basic education since 2002 has been an overall increase, with normal variances year to year because of IDA’s country-driven demand financing model. IDA support for basic education jumped dramatically during our fiscal years 2009/10 – reflecting the desire of low-income countries to protect gains in education during the global financial and food crisis – and hit a record level last year in 2012. As of April 1, our projection is for another strong year in IDA financing for basic education for our fiscal year 2013, which ends on June 30. Much of this support is going to sub-Saharan Africa but also importantly to South Asia, given that region’s remaining large number of out-of-school children. The World Bank Group remains firmly committed to helping countries accelerate progress toward the MDGs and achieve learning for all.


    • Peter Materu says:

      I fully agree with Carolyn’s assessment. In addition, I think we need to take into account the fact that over the last decade or so, we have seen an significant increase in funding for basic education by the countries themselves. It would be useful to do some further analysis (country by country) to see the trend in the total funding to basic education (government plus external support) and link this to results achieved. Without this analysis, one can only draw limited conclusions from the trend observed.


  6. Here is the link I mention in the above post:


  7. Pingback: Education invisible in the G8 communiqué | World Education Blog

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