Overseas aid to education down 10% since 2010

Humanitarian funding to education in emergencies critically low, conference told

Studying geography: around 58 million children of primary school age are still without schooling, an event in Dublin, organised by the Irish Coalition for the Global Campaign for Education, was told

Studying geography: around 58 million children of primary school age are still without schooling, an event in Dublin, organised by the Irish Coalition for the Global Campaign for Education, was told

 

Education has suffered disproportionately from recent cuts in international development aid, a conference in Dublin has heard, with 58 million children of primary school age still without schooling.

International donor financing for education has dropped 10 per cent since 2010, which is seven times the rate of decline for overall global development aid, said Alice Albright, executive director of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

A UN summit later this year is set to agree Sustainable Development Goals, setting spending priorities for the next 15 years, and Ms Albright said “not having financing targets is one of the greatest threats” to their success.

“The Unesco Global Monitoring Report estimates that we face a global external financing gap of $22 billion dollars (€20m) a year to achieve quality, universal pre-primary, primary and lower-secondary education by 2030,” she said.

However, she praised Ireland for its leadership role – it has been appointed, along with Kenya, to chair the UN negotiations in September – saying “you really do punch above your weight”.

In addition, Irish Aid, the development wing of the Department of Foreign Affairs, had contributed $71 million (€66m) to the GPE fund.

Some 17 Sustainable Development Goals have been proposed, including targets to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education” for all, and to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”.

These goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) – eight targets introduced in 2000 which aimed to halve extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, and halt the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015.

A UN expert committee reported on the plan last September, saying public financing and donor aid would be key to the new goals as would money generated from the private sector, through tax reforms, and a crackdown on illicit financial flows and corruption.

Ms Albright said the absence of targets that specifically addressed financing was a failure of the MDG process. “Developing countries must also increase tax revenues and allocate more resources to the education sector.”

The event on Friday was organised by the Irish Coalition for the Global Campaign for Education, a group of NGOs and education stakeholders led by the ASTI secondary teachers’ union.

The GPE, which is partnering with nearly 60 developing-country governments on developing educational strategy, has incentivised them to progressively increase spending on education to around 20 per cent of their budgets. But major challenges remain in teacher training, equality of access and providing schooling in conflict zones.

Half of the world’s out-of-school children live in conflict-affected or fragile states, or are victims of humanitarian crises.

“Humanitarian funding to education in emergencies has fallen to critically low levels, creating lost generations, without hope,” said Ms Albright, who has previously worked in banking, and is a daughter of former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright.