Reductions in Aid Jeopardize Schooling for Millions

School under a tree in Jamam refugee camp, South Sudan. Photo by Alun McDonald, Oxfam International, from Flickr.

School under a tree in Jamam refugee camp, South Sudan. Photo by Alun McDonald, Oxfam International, from Flickr.

With 57 million children still out of school, it would take a miracle for the global community to meet its commitments by 2015, the deadline for reaching the Education for All goals and the MDGs, according to new analysis presented in a recent policy paper by the EFA Global Monitoring Report and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The evidence reveals a sobering picture for policy makers, with reductions in aid placing the achievement of the goals at even further risk.

While remarkable progress has been made in helping children access school since 2000, a slowdown in progress in recent years is a major cause of concern. If world leaders really want to meet their Dakar declarations, and uphold the inalienable right of education for all, momentum towards EFA goals must be renewed.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains a region where interventions are urgently needed to surmount the challenges it faces. Nearly 30 million children are out-of-school, only 3 million fewer than in 2005. One in five primary school-age children in the region have either never been to school or left before completing their primary education. Wealth and gender inequalities, as well as a wide gap between urban and rural areas, continue to represent great obstacles across all regions to achieving Education for All as shown in our World Inequality Database on Education.

For all these reasons, a fall in aid is extremely disconcerting. Six of the 10 largest bilateral donors cut their aid to basic education between 2010 and 2011, just when it is needed most. Despite the efforts of some donors such as Australia, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom, total aid to basic education declined by 7% between 2010 and 2011. This has resulted in a $26 billion annual funding gap.

Furthermore, only a portion of the aid that is spent on education is channeled to those who are most in need. Of the $5.8 billion in aid to basic education in 2011, only $1.9 billion was allocated to low income countries. Many donors are not prioritizing low income countries even though these are the countries that face greatest challenges in achieving universal primary education.

Immediate actions are urgently needed for the sake of the 57 million children out of school, starting from donors meeting their target aid commitments and prioritizing basic education. However, in order for Education for All to be realized, everyone has a part to play.




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