Online training on tax and education
In the framework of the TaxEd alliance project, Education International (EI), in collaboration with Action Aid International and the Tax Justice Network organised a virtual training workshop on Tax and Public spending. The workshop took place from the 11th to 12th November 2020 and was attended by 33 participants from ActionAid, National Education Coalitions, Tax Justice Network and EI affiliates in Nepal, Senegal, and Zambia.
The theme of the first workshop was “Tax and Public Spending” and aimed at building the capacity of all the partners in the TaxEd Alliance to effectively deliver on the Education Out Loud project. The main objectives of the workshop were to provide participants with an opportunity to develop a common understanding of: (a) tax justice; (b) the link between tax justice and education financing; (c) education wage bill containment; and (d) the impact of Covid-19 on education.
Quoting Citizens’ Review of the Tax System in the Philippines, 1994, Caroline Othin of Action Aid, said: ‘Taxation is not an exclusive domain of economic planners and administrators. It is more importantly the concern of the people”. She emphasized that the people should be involved in the process of deciding what to tax, whom to tax, and how-to tax, as well as in collecting and spending tax revenues.’
It was stated during the workshop that the 4 Rs of Tax: (a) revenue; (b) redistribution; (c) re-pricing and (d) representation should be taken into consideration.
Link between tax justice and education financing
It was also emphasized that for a holistic view of domestic financing we need to use the 4 Ss framework in relation to education budgets: (1) the share of the budget spent on education; (2) the size of government revenues overall; (3) the sensitivity of allocations within education (focusing on equity); and (4) the scrutiny needed to ensure that money reaches schools and other education institutions in practice (budget tracking, especially in disadvantaged areas).
Education wage bill containment
Dr. Dennis Sinyolo, Chief Regional Coordinator of Education International Africa, urged participants to beware of the donors’ terminology and not to forget the policies, conditionalities and advice of the international financial institutions and donors. He noted the emergence of caps being imposed on the budgets of developing countries by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and some donors in the name of efficiency; flexibility; public private partnerships, results-based financing; etc.
He also clearly warned: “When you hear the donors use the word ‘efficiency’, be very afraid - they mean increase class size, increase teacher workload and freeze their salaries.”
The impact of Covid-19 on education
“In sub-Saharan Africa, 89 % of learners do not have household computers and 82% lack internet access,” underlined ActionAid’s Education Programme Manager’s Julie Juma. She highlighted that the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) mobilised more than US$500 million for Covid-19 response and supported developing countries to mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on vulnerable children , build the resilience of education systems, and gave Covid-19 grants to three countries: Nepal, Senegal, and Zambia.
The workshop offered an opportunity for the participants to share experience on education financing during and post Covid-19. Overall, presenters at the workshop emphasized on the importance of tax payment, ways through which the wage bill containment can be dealt with and means by which the public can engage in tax justice.
97% Domestic revenue as recommended by UN Education Commission
17% Average share of education in low income countries
89% Households that do not have access to computers in Sub-Saran Africa
82% households that do not have access to internet
500 million US dollars mobilized for COVID-19 response by GPE