At the 2007, 2008 and 2009 summits, the G8 reiterated their support of the FTI and also pledged to fill the financing gaps faced by FTI-endorsed countries. At the 2009 summit in L’Aquila, the G8 also committed to ‘pursue funding’ to fill the financing gaps faced by the FTI’s multilateral funds.
To track the G8’s progress towards meeting their education commitment, ONE monitors progress towards the goal of UPE and measures each country’s contribution towards delivering the financing required to achieve UPE in sub-Saharan Africa by 2010. In its 2010 Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO revised its estimates on the financing gap for basic education to reflect the increased resources needed to provide an education for marginalised children, who make up the majority of the outof- school population globally. The external financing gap for sub-Saharan African countries to reach UPE is now estimated to be $6.8 billion annually (in 2009 prices).42 The G8 share of this figure (based on collective gross national income) was $2.7 billion in 2008 and will need to rise to $5.3 billion by 2010.
The Gleneagles commitment was robust in that it set the MDG as a target and also emphasised country ownership by pledging to support African education plans through the FTI. However, the lack of an explicit financial commitment, deadlines, interim targets and other accountability measures meant that implementation on this commitment has been slow and uneven. In addition, subsequent pledges to fill the gaps faced by FTI-endorsed countries, while commendable, were less ambitious than the original commitment because the FTI covers only a fraction of the total efforts needed to meet UPE.
Progress since Gleneagles
Reaching UPE by 2015 requires progress on two fronts – enrolment and completion. Although progress on enrolment in recent years has been positive, with headline figures increasing annually, completion rates and overall measures of quality have not kept pace.
Efforts to eliminate school fees and other barriers to education led to an increase in enrolment in sub-Saharan Africa from 58% in 1999 to 74% in 2007, the most rapid increase of any region. Madagascar, Tanzania and Zambia have achieved enrolment ratios above 90%. Despite these results, enrolling the 32 million children who are still out of school in sub- Saharan Africa promises to be much more difficult, because the majority of them are marginalised children (such as young girls, children in rural areas or fragile states, and children with disabilities).
Progress on improving primary school completion rates in sub-Saharan Africa has been much slower than the improvements in enrolment. Although the proportion of children completing primary school in the region increased from 53% to 63% between 1999 and 2007, this increase did not keep pace with enrolment growth. This reflects the reality that, while many more children are entering the school system, millions are still dropping out of school early and failing to complete a full cycle. Related to this slow increase in completion rates is the region’s poor performance on key measurements of education quality, which indicate that many children who do enrol in school are not leaving with even basic reading and maths competency. Regional assessments from Malawi, Namibia and Zambia, for example, found that over 70% of grade 6 students in each country had not achieved basic maths competency. In many countries, a lack of trained teachers and adequate supplies is not only making learning extremely difficult but also failing to motivate students to complete a full cycle of school.
G7 ODA FOR EDUCATION
Although development assistance for primary education from the G7 increased substantially in the year following Gleneagles to peak at a total of $1.4 billion in 2006, levels have since been falling. In 2008, the G7 committed $1.1 billion to primary education in sub-Saharan Africa, a decrease of $30 million from 2007. These levels fall far short of the $2.7 billion the G7 would have had to contribute to meet their proportionate share of the UPE goal for the region, making it very difficult to scale up by 2010 to meet the Gleneagles commitment. In 2008, France and Canada came closest to meeting their proportionate share of UPE financing.
In addition to a decrease in volume, the G7’s prioritisation of sub-Saharan Africa in education spending has also declined since 2006. In 2008, the allocation of total global ODA spent on primary education that was directed to the region fell to 36%, the lowest level in the past decade, from a high of 60% in 2006. This shift has been driven largely by the US, which is the biggest funder of basic education globally but which has shifted its spending to regions outside sub-Saharan Africa in the past five years.
Sustaining and accelerating progress towards UPE will require a revitalised effort on the part of donors and developing countries over the next five years. The 1Goal Campaign around the World Cup in South Africa could serve as a critical vehicle to mobilise popular support for education around the world. Donors and developing countries both need to use the momentum generated in 2010 as an opportunity to reinvigorate their commitments to global education. Specifically, the G8 and other donors should do the following: