Education Finance Watch 2023 – World

by MMC
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Education is not only a fundamental human right, but also a key investment in human capital that translates into economic growth and other development outcomes. Keeping children in low-income countries in school longer is one of the best global investments that can be made. Returns to education, particularly at tertiary levels, are highest in low-income countries.

The World Bank and UNESCO are the most recent Education Finance Watch (EFW) Report offers encouraging news: public spending on education in low-income countries as a percentage of GDP increased from 3.2% in 2018 to 3.6% in 2021, at the height of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 19. Although still below the international benchmark of 4% of GDP, public spending on education accounted for more than half of all education spending in these countries for the first time.

However, official development assistance (ODA) for education, which accounts for 13 percent of spending in low-income countries, has declined by 7 percent and households continue to bear a heavy burden of education costs. education (more than a third).

International aid stagnates

Despite international calls for increased funding for education, the share of international aid allocated to education has stagnated in recent years, reaching a low of 9.7% in 2013 and 2015, a point to which she returned in 2020-2021. It’s no surprise that donors have poured money into health during the pandemic.

At the same time, only 30 percent of direct education aid among the ten largest donors to low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa went directly to recipient countries; the remainder was channeled through donor aid agencies, international and national NGOs, and multilateral organizations.

A significant concern is also that, as pandemic-induced school closures exacerbate the learning crisis and governments and households face continued inflation, a significant portion of the aid committed to education has not been spent: since 2017, $1.7 billion in education aid has not been spent. been disbursed.

How to better spend education funding?

With the exception of low-income countries, government spending as a percentage of GDP declined across all income groups in 2021. The amount a country spends on education per child is the most direct measure to assess whether sufficient resources are devoted to education. Although it is difficult to establish a benchmark for the cost of quality education in different countries and contexts, comparisons are informative. Since 2012, public spending per capita has increased in countries of all income levels, but high-income countries, partly because of their shrinking school-age populations, have improved their spending per child more (d (a staggering $1,008 per child) than low-income countries (just $14 per child) whose school-age populations continue to grow.

It is imperative to increase per capita spending on education. Although increased spending on education does not necessarily lead to better educational outcomes, learning is lowest in countries that spend the least per school-aged child. Low- and middle-income countries show striking demographic variations: in countries where population growth continues, it will become more important and more difficult to ensure increasing per capita funding for education. In countries where the school-age population is shrinking, opportunities to invest more in each child’s education provide the opportunity to improve learning outcomes without disrupting the bottom line.

In the current context of rising inflation, high debt-to-GDP ratios in many countries and declining ODA, particularly to low-income countries, target education spending on the children currently receiving it. less is the imperative and urgent next step. This could mitigate pandemic-related learning loss, helping to develop the foundational skills needed to grow human capital and sustain economies in the future.

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