Donors are turning away from education
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Donors are turning away from education

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By Kate Redman, UNESCO GEM

Only two years ago, the world came together to sign up for ambitious global development goals, including one on education. Ambition, however, often costs money. Our research estimated that aid to education would need to increase six times for the new education goal to be met. So why do the new figures we have just released show that the reverse is happening?

Indeed, our data show that donors have been giving less and less of their aid to education over the last six years.  At the same time, health has consistently received far more than education as have investments in transport and infrastructure, which once made up only a small amount of donor investment compared to education, and in 2015, as shown below, makes up the same amount, or more.

Bar graph depicting how education is low on donors' priority list, behind health and transport.

While these investments in health and infrastructure are critical for countries to advance, education can’t be left behind. So why is this happening?

One answer is that you can’t “fix” education in a day, or even a year, or two. It takes time to break down the barriers to education – like costs and culture norms.  It takes time to train teachers and ensure they are receiving the support the need.  And it takes time to understand whether children are learning and make adjustments to make schooling more effective.

Another reason must also be because there is not enough emphasis on education, particularly for the poorest, among those making the decisions. And that’s where you come in.

Do you think it is fair that education is falling further and further down the agenda? Is it right that sub-Saharan Africa – home to half of all primary and lower secondary school children out of school – receives half the amount of aid now than it did in 2002? Why, if total aid has increased by 24%, has aid to education fallen by 4%? Why, when countries just spent so long coming together to commit to getting all children in school and learning by 2030, did donors just dramatically decrease their support to basic education in poor countries?

Chart depicting donors giving less aid to basic education in sub-Saharan Africa, which houses half of the world's out-of-school children.

It’s not logical. And it’s not fair for the over 260 million children and adolescents still out of school today. Help UNESCO call for donors to reverse these trends by sharing UNESCO GEM’s key tweets, and graphics. The more the world shows we care about education, the more likely it won’t be ignored.

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