Reason #7: Global Support to Basic Education is Drastically Declining
This post originally appeared on the RESULTS Canada blog.
Over eight weeks, RESULTS affiliates in the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the U.S. are delving deeper into 8 key reasons to invest in the Global Partnership for Education now more than ever, outlined in our joint report Greater Impact Through Partnership. This blog about Reason #7 is by Julie Savard-Shaw, Campaigns Officer at RESULTS Canada. You can read the previous blogs written by staff from Australia, Canada, the U.K., and U.S., here.
Reason #7 addresses the drastic decline in global support for basic education. As the pledging conference for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) approaches, it is essential to highlight the large financial gaps that exist in the education sector and reiterate the importance of education in eliminating poverty.
Following the global financial crisis, overall official development assistance levels declined significantly with the latest figures showing a 4 percent reduction in 2012 from a 2 percent reduction in 2011. Of the remaining development assistance budget, commitments to education overall dropped by 27 percent from 2009 to 2011 and commitments to basic education dropped by 35 percent over the same period.
Evidently, reduced commitments are being translated into reduced disbursements. Aid disbursements to the education sector declined by 9 percent between 2009 and 2012. Most alarmingly, basic education funding dropped 16 percent (or US$1 billion) between 2009 and 2012 at a time when there are still 57 million children of primary school age out of school.
What is more, basic education aid actually available to GPE developing country partners was cut by 23 percent from 2009 to 2012. Even though domestic spending on education is slowly increasing (see Reason #4) and remains the most important source of financing for the sector, aid for education is central to support low-income countries in achieving the Education for All goals.
During a recent multiparty delegation with Canadian Members of Parliament in Tanzania, I witnessed first-hand the dire conditions in which children study every day as a result of insufficient funds. The Principal noted that due to the limited budget for education, priority is given to providing the necessary school supplies and paying teachers’ salary. The school had a good graduation rate and an almost equal girl to boy ratio. On paper, the school is faring well; however, that fails to represent the immense hole in the sunken ceiling because of mold or the absence of running water, electricity, and classroom doors. That day, with the rain and wind, children were visibly shaking from the cold.
Education is currently underfunded by US$26 billion a year. Donors have the chance in June to reduce the education financial gap and pledge generously to reach the GPE’s replenishment target of US$3.5 billion to give millions of children the chance to receive quality basic education.