New estimates by UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) reveal that an annual US$22 billion external funding gap must be bridged if low and lower middle income countries are to achieve quality, universal pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education by 2030.
The paper “Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030,” launched today with Results for Development in Washington DC, shows that even if governments significantly increase overall funding for education to 5.4% of GDP, the new targets will not be met by the 2030 deadline and millions of children will continue to miss out on their right to basic education.
These findings come ahead of the crucial International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa this July, where the international community will discuss how much is needed to finance the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals and the sources of these funds.
The proposed post-2015 education targets, which take into account an increase in the number of students accessing education, as well as significant improvements in education quality, will cost US$231 billion per year from now until 2030, more than double the cost of education in 2012. For low income countries, this annual cost is set to triple, from US$10.3 billion in 2012 to US$36.3 billion per year until 2030. This increase will ensure that every child has access to a cycle of pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education. It will also provide access to improved school facilities and instructional materials and ensure that all children, particularly the most marginalised, are taught by trained and qualified teachers.
Many low and lower middle income countries are unlikely to have the resources necessary to increase their public education expenditure to the levels required to cover the total cost of the targets. But while governments must ensure their commitment to financing education, aid will still need to play a significant role in enabling these countries to meet the targets.
This is problematic given that aid to pre-primary, primary and general secondary education in low income countries currently stands at just over US$2 billion and has fallen since 2010. Even so, the $22 billion annual funding gap equates to just 4.5 days of global military expenditure. Without reallocating funds from other sectors, a part of this gap could be bridged by redistributing aid to education from upper middle income countries and reallocating the aid currently funding post-secondary education objectives.
Ahead of the conference in Addis Ababa, this paper calls on low and lower middle income countries to commit to spending 5.4% of their GDP on education, and it is essential they are held to account on this commitment. But this alone will not be enough. Donors must also increase the volume of aid at least four-fold and redistribute aid to those countries that need it the most.
Even if countries increase their domestic expenditure in line with our projections, if donors fail to commit the necessary resources to education to fill the financing gap, we are unlikely to reach the new education targets before 2060 – 30 years too late!
In light of the overall broken promise of Education for All by 2015, and the 121 million children and adolescents still missing out on basic education, it is vital that this July, both individual countries and the international community renew their commitment to ensuring every child’s right to education, and this includes the provision of adequate funding for the sector.
View the full paper – Pricing the right to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030.