Goal of universal primary education under threat from lack of funds, says UN

18 April 2008

The internationally agreed goal of universal primary education for every child by 2015 is at risk unless donors scale up aid for basic education, according to a new report published today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The internationally agreed goal of universal primary education for every child by 2015 is at risk unless donors scale up aid for basic education, according to a new report published today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The report – prepared by the team that monitors progress towards the goal of “education for all,” the pledge made by world leaders in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, in 1999 – found that while aid to basic education increased in 2006 to $5 billion, up from $3.7 billion in 2005, it remained below its 2004 level of $5.3 billion.

In addition, bilateral aid to basic education increased from $2.7 billion in 2005 to $3.9 billion in 2006, while commitments from multilateral agencies remained constant at $1.1 billion.

The data also showed that total official development assistance (ODA) decreased by 8.4 per cent last year, which probably means a corresponding reduction in aid to basic education.

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said that the fact that aid to basic education increased in 2006 over the previous year was encouraging. However, the “general slowdown” in how much donors are committing to education was still a concern.

“This could carry serious consequences for educational progress in low-income countries,” said Mr. Matsuura. “These countries need enough aid and predictable aid to support the rapid expansion of their education systems.”

The overall increase in 2006, according to the report, was mainly due to increased contributions from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, whose combined aid to basic education rose by $1.3 billion.

Noting that some $11 billion a year is needed to achieve education for all in low-income countries, the report urged donors to step up their efforts, in particular by allocating at least 10 per cent of their sector aid to basic education.

 

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