This week, the International Development Committee of the UK parliament recommended in a letter to the country’s Department for International Development (DFID) that it dedicate 10% of its development aid to education. The letter submitted referenced our latest 2016 Report for this recommendation, which builds on earlier analysis. We are thrilled to see it getting such support.
The Committee’s recommendation came as the conclusion of a 9-month inquiry into DFID’s work on education, specifically as regards its focus on leaving no-one behind. The Committee’s inquiry was a result of a growing concern that “the current UK aid strategy does not place sufficient emphasis on ensuring children across the developing world have access to quality education.”
This long-standing inquiry included collecting oral and written evidence from multiple stakeholders on the issue. The GEM Report team advised that DFID should continue to set an example by allocating 0.7% of its national income to aid and prioritizing education. But currently, as the Committee pointed out, DFID dedicates just over 8% of its budget (£526.2m) to education; a smaller percentage than it spends on health, disaster and government and civil society.
Globally, averaging across all major donors, the share of education in total overseas development aid fell from 10.2% in 2010 to 9.5% in 2013 and 8.2% in 2014. This share is the lowest allocated since 2002. It was low as 3% for the United States and 6% for the European Institutions in 2013. By contrast, the share of health in total overseas development aid has been increasing over the same period. While this is the latest data, we will be updating it in the next few weeks in partnership with Global Partnership for Education.
The GEM Report has been advocating for donors to prioritise education in their aid budgets for years as the necessary conclusion of its calculations related to the annual financing gap for achieving new education targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In 2015, the GEM Report team calculated there was a $39 billion annual financing gap to reach our new education goal in low and lower middle income countries. We showed that this entire gap could be filled if the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members and selected non-DAC donors (i.e. Brazil, China, India, Kuwait, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates) dedicated 0.7% of their gross national income to aid, and allocated 10% of their aid to education (from pre-primary through to the upper secondary level).
We are delighted that the UK parliamentarians have underscored the critical importance of this recommendation, and that the media, and other organisations are making the most of the Committee’s work to join up on advocacy efforts as well. Two years into the new Sustainable Development Goals, with a 2030 deadline already looming, we need strong and bold donors, such as DFID, to lead the way with new and increased commitments to education.