New UN study proposes ways to close additional $10 billion funding gap for education

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.
UNESCO/Patrick Lagès
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

New UN study proposes ways to close additional $10 billion funding gap for education

It is possible to help make basic education universal by 2015, despite a global funding gap which increased to $26 billion from $16 billion during the past three years, according to new figures released today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“While $26 billion sounds like a large gap to fill, the analysis shows that it is possible to raise the resources,” Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, said in a statement releasing the paper, ‘Making Education for All Affordable by 2015 and beyond.’

The gap impacts the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on universal primary education which world leaders agreed to achieve by 2015.

“In 2000, donor governments promised that no country would be prevented from achieving Education for All by a lack of resources. Alongside national governments, donors must now step up their efforts to make sure finance is not the obstacle that stands in the way of helping all children go to school,” Ms. Bokova said.

According to data in the policy paper, if governments and donors directed 20 per cent of their budgets to education, the move would raise $12 billion. In addition, the authors suggest that instead of sending students from developing countries to study in donor countries, some of the funds could be spent on developing education systems in those countries.

UNESCO also urges donors to fulfil commitments already made, writing that if Europeans agreed to allocate 0.7 per cent of their gross national income to aid, a further $1.3 billion per year could be made available for education.

Meanwhile, developing countries could raise $7.3 billion by improving their tax systems and making better use of their natural resources, with a proportion directed towards education.

“Combined, these changes could reduce the annual gap for basic education from $26 billion to just $3.4 billion. If philanthropic organizations gave the same amount to basic education as they currently give to health, the gap could be filled,” according to the Paris-based UN agency.

The policy paper is released ahead of a decisive global consultation on education in the post-2015 development agenda starting on 18 March in Dakar, Senegal.