Timed to coincide with GCE’s Global Action Week, Fund the Future, we have estimated the latest aid figures for education showing that levels went down 4% between 2013 and 2014. The share of total aid being allocated to education also fell from 9.5% to 8.2%, indicating that the sector is falling further down the list of priorities for donors.
Aid to basic education, providing for pre-primary and primary education as well as basic skills, has decreased by 5% since 2013, an even greater fall than for education as a whole. And this while out of school numbers for primary education are on the rise, totaling 59 million by latest counts according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
The GEM Report has previously calculated that aid to education needs to increase by at least six times to fill the annual finance gap of $39 billion in order to provide 12 years of quality education for all. Yet the latest analysis shows that, rather than rising, levels of aid to the sector are 8% lower than they were in 2010. This will make education progress extremely difficult, or impossible, for many countries still reliant on financial support from donors.
Indeed, it is the countries most in need of aid that are getting the least. Smaller shares of aid are being allocated to basic education in low income countries, where the need is greatest, dropping a sixth since 2002-3 levels.
The share received by sub-Saharan Africa of total aid to basic education has fallen from 49% in 2002/03 to 28% in 2014, even though the region accounts for over half of all out-of-school children.
Between 2013 and 2014, four donors, France, Japan, Netherlands, and Spain, reduced aid to basic education by 40% or more. The United Kingdom reduced aid to basic education by 21%, or almost twice its rate of reduction of total aid to education, and is no longer the largest bilateral donor. Its place has been taken by the United States, which increased aid to basic education by US$164 million or 23%.
Neither is aid per child delivered according to need. For example, the average child in Mongolia receives US$45 even though the primary completion rate was 97% in 2010. By contrast, Chad, where the primary completion rate was 28% in 2010, received US$3 per primary school age child in 2014.
These figures make for sombre reading.
Governments around the world have just signed up to an enormously ambitious and promising vision for education and lifelong learning over the next fifteen years, an agenda they know is crucial if even greater ambitions for sustainable development are to be realized by 2030. Words on pages are not enough. There is simply no way these targets will be reached if there are not enough funds to do the work.
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