The importance of investments and capacity building for education is recognized in the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration. The Addis Agenda further stresses the role of the global partnership to support country-driven priorities and strategies, and emphasizes the importance of international development cooperation and partnerships in the education sector in particular.
While domestic resource mobilisation is becoming more important and represents the vast majority of funding for education in most countries, external aid for education continues to play an important role in countries where domestic resources fall short (see here and here for more information). Cost projections show that the financing gap was estimated at 42 per cent of the total cost of reaching the new SDG targets, assuming countries could increase domestic resource mobilization and ensure that 20 per cent of public expenditure was allocated to education. Overall, since peaking in 2009 and 2010, total aid to education declined by around 5 per cent to US$12.3 billion in 2015. Aid to basic education is 6 per cent below its 2010 levels. However, aid to secondary education increased significantly, by around 15 per cent over the same time period.
Least developed countries received 27 per cent of total aid and 30 per cent of total aid to basic education in 2015, and the shares have remained constant for 10 years. However, neither of these measures indicates need. A different way to assess targeting would be comparing the share of total aid received by least developed countries with their out-of-school population. Neither of these measures takes into consideration need. A different monitoring approach would be to compare the share of total aid received by low income countries with their share of the out-of-school population. For example, low income countries received 28 per cent of total aid to basic education while accounting for 36 per cent of all out-of-school children. In 2014, there are still over 24 million children, or more than 1 in 6 children of primary age not in school. A further 24 million adolescents of lower secondary age are also out-of-school. Almost two-in-five of all out-of-school children and adolescents in the world are in LDCs.
Grants made up 82 per cent of total aid to education in 2015, a larger share than that of all aid across sectors (75 per cent). Least developed countries receive 77 per cent of their total aid, as well as their total aid to education, in the form of grants, with the largest recipients being Ethiopia, Mozambique and Nepal
In terms of the channels of aid, donors often bypass government aid disbursement systems in low income, fragile and conflict-affected countries, partly as a result of concerns over capacity. Aid to education channelled through NGOs, civil society organizations and multilateral agencies is 26 per cent for least developed countries – significantly more than the share in developing countries as a whole (18 per cent). It will be important to track the extent to which aid channelled to governments increases in importance in the future in the poorest countries.
Children’s education is often interrupted during humanitarian emergencies. Humanitarian aid dedicated to education can contribute to a safe school environment and a sense of normalcy during crises. In 2014, the education sector received US$188 million in humanitarian aid. This is less than 1.5 per cent of the amount of development aid disbursed for education that year, and thus makes up only a small share of the external financing countries receive for education.
In 2015, out of a total of US$10.6 billion in humanitarian aid, the education sector received US$198 million. This is less than 1.9 per cent of total funding, despite a target set by the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative for education to receive at least 4 per cent of humanitarian aid. Education is at a double disadvantage because it not only receives the smallest share in humanitarian appeals, but what it does receive is consistently less than the average compared with requests: in 2015 the sector received 31 per cent of its requests for humanitarian aid, compared with an average of 55 per cent across all sectors.
The Global Partnership for Education (GPE), established in 2002, is a multi-stakeholder partnership and funding platform. The GPE’s disbursements have increased significantly since its inception, reaching $520 million in 2014, with two-thirds, or US$349 million, directed to low income countries (GPE, 2015). For the fiscal year 2015, over US$230 million was committed for disbursement (GPE, 2016). This is a decrease by 55 per cent from the record high disbursements in 2014.
Overall, GPE has allocated US$4.6 billion in grants to support the implementation of education sector plans (as of September 2016), with US$2.9 billion disbursed in GPE partner developing countries (as of December 2015). However, additional financing and investment is needed to reach Addis commitments: US$39 billion annually is needed to fill the external financing gap for quality pre-primary, primary and secondary education for all children by 2030.