Aid to EducationCelebrating Global Action Week for Education from April 24-30th, EFA Global Monitoring Report’s analysis showed a gradual increase in the world’s aid to education from 2002 to 2014. However, a closer look reveals a four percent drop between 2013 and 2014. Amid the atmosphere of optimism in the transition from the Millennium Development to the Sustainable Development Goals, this discovery provides a realistic reminder of what challenges lie ahead.

The fourth agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” This includes ensuring “that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education” by 2030.

According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, this would require an annual total cost averaging $340 billion between 2015 and 2030 for low and lower income countries, more than double the amount previously estimated. The cost will more than triple in low income countries. This is mainly due to population growth and lower GDP per capita in developing countries.

In this context, the decline in aid to education seems alarming. Four of the main donors, France, Japan, Netherlands and Canada decreased their support due to domestic austerity measures while facing economic depression. The Netherlands, for one, cut their aid by over a third in 2011. As Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, said, “it is essential that donors maintain their funding, and make sure it is reaching the countries—and children—most in need.”

Furthermore, analysis shows the steepest drop in aid to education in Sub-Saharan Africa, where half of the world’s out of school children reside.  Of the “57 million out-of-school children of primary age, almost half (49 percent) will probably never enter school. A further 23 percent have attended school but dropped out, and the remaining 28 percent are expected to enter school in the future.”

Precedence in the region suggests that this drop is not a one-time occurrence but part of a continuing stagnation. The educational progress of this region has been closely related to economic growth. In periods of steady growth of an annual one to two percent per capita, more resources were allocated to education although the school age population had actually increased. This implies that a long-term solution must include investment in local businesses and infrastructure, in addition to education itself.

Haena Chu