Education International
Education International

Declining aid to education is putting development at risk

published 11 June 2014 updated 27 June 2014

In the past two years, the countries furthest from reaching the education goals have experienced the hardest cuts, putting development targets out of reach and leaving millions of children out of school, says UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report

The Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report continues to show that despite half of the world’s out-of-school children living in conflict-affected countries, humanitarian aid appeals neglect education needs. Education only received 2% of humanitarian appeals in 2013 – only half of the modest 4% target set by the United Nations last year.

Aid to education fell over 6% between 2010 and 2011, and a further 3% in 2012, totalling $1.3 billion. Basic education – which enables children to acquire foundational skills and core knowledge – is now receiving the same amount of aid as it did in 2008. As funds diminish, and with only one year remaining before the deadline for achieving the global Education for All goals, 57 million children and 69 million adolescents are still out of school.

These new figures are released by UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report ahead of the Global Partnership for Education’s Replenishment Pledging Conference in Brussels (25-26 June), where donors will be asked to help raise a much-needed US$3.5 billion for education in the poorest countries.

The report shows that aid is still vital for many countries, making up over a quarter of public education spending in 12 countries. Yet with aid flows to the sector falling by 10% – far more than the 1% decrease in overall aid levels – donors are clearly backing away from education as a development priority. Unless this negative trend is reversed, the likelihood of reaching the global education goals is put at great risk.

The cuts are being felt hardest in countries furthest from reaching the education goals. The two countries with the largest cuts in aid to basic education from 2010 to 2012 were India and Pakistan, even though both sit among the top five countries in the world with the most children out of school; 5.5 million in Pakistan and 1.6 million in India.