The recently released 2013/14 UNESCO Education For All Global Monitoring Report has some unfortunate statistics. The report estimates that global education is underfunded by $26 billion. In 2011, 69 million adolescents and 57 million children were out of school. Adult literacy has barely improved by increasing only 1 percent since 2000.
The report stresses that investing in quality teachers is key as around 250 million children are not being taught basic education despite having been in school for an average of four years. The biggest shock was that international funding for global education is down almost 10 percent since 2010.
India will see the most significant decrease in aid. Education aid for India fell by $278 million between 2010-2012. This is a serious problem as India relies on this aid to continue developing its education system. It is one of the top five countries with the most children out of school.
There are many statistics that show why aid is essential for India’s educational development. In the poorest state of Jharkhand there is a 42 percent absentee rate. A study showed that only 33 percent of Indian children between the ages of 14 and 15 could properly answer a two stage math problem that used multiplication and addition. Only 50 percent of children in India are learning basic education.
Positive results from aid can also be used to stress its importance. The report gives dozens of examples of how and why education is key to helping the poorest in Indian society. For example, “women in India with at least secondary education were 30 percentage points more likely to have a say over their choice of spouse than their less educated peers.” There was also a study on the use of technology in four schools in the Uttar Pradesh region. Students were able to listen to a lecture from an expert teacher via digital video recordings. Around 72 percent of the students had increased test scores after eight months.
There is no question that aid for basic education is essential to developing countries as well as the general well being of the world. The Board Chair for the Global Partnership for Education Julia Gillard said that, “education is a long-term investment – not an expense. We owe it to the children of the world – particularly the poorest and most marginalized – that both international donors and developing country governments step up and commit more funding to education.”
The news of decreased funding in India coupled with the not so spectacular statistics in the EFA report show that more needs to be done to support global education. To take a step back and decrease aid is moving the world in the wrong direction.
– Eleni Lentz-Marino