Who Would Break a Promise to Schoolchildren?
A 9% decrease. $107 million less per year. Do these sound like ‘increases’ to you? To the World Bank they do, or at least when it comes to basic education.
In 2010, the World Bank pledged to increase support to basic education by $750 million over the next five years (2011-2015), which was to represent a 40% increase in basic education from the previous five years (2006-2010). This pledge statement was made (among other places) at a high-level education event co-organized by the Global Campaign for Education and the Global Partnership for Education.
The pledge squarely places the annual baseline (i.e., the amount to be provided per year to which the $750 million would be added) at $1.2 billion per year. However, a year after making the pledge, the World Bank revised the annual baseline to be only $742 million (cutting it by a third) and is currently tracking pledge progress on this baseline. Over the five years of the pledge, the difference will be $2.3 billion less to basic education.
The bar has been placed so low that it’s not only a small pledge-it’s actually a pledge to decrease support to basic education! Basic education spending from the International Development Association (the arm of the World Bank which serves the poorest countries and is at the center of the pledge) from 2006 to 2010 totaled almost $4.9 billion. Now, with a pledge to give $742 million per year for five years, plus an additional overall $750 million, the Bank’s 2011-2015 pledge totals about $4.5 billion. That’s $400 million less than the previous five-year period, or a 9% decrease (far from the 40% increase stated in the pledge). Starting at the basic education funding level in 2010, the year the pledge was made, the Bank can actually decrease basic education spending by $107 million every year and still successfully fulfill the revised pledge!
As Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the new President of the World Bank, stated recently around this year’s International Literacy Day, “I believe education is a basic human right and is fundamental to eliminating global poverty and expanding prosperity.” A proponent of education, Dr. Kim is now in the position to set the record straight on the World Bank’s 2010 pledge to ensure that it is upheld as originally intended and that it actually amounts to an increase, not a decrease, in the Bank’s support to basic education worldwide.