From 'resource curse' to education blessing

    A student in Ghana. Photo by: Ben Grey / CC BY-SA

    With education coffers dwindling worldwide, a new UNESCO report tallies that 17 developing countries could finance the studies of most out-of-school children with $5 billion in revenues from their natural resources.

    Up to 86 percent of these children could receive an education with a better management of those revenues, according to the report, obtained ahead of its May 7 release by Devex.

    The new edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, entitled “Turning the ‘resource curse’ into a blessing for education,” asserts that 17 developing countries rich in non-renewable natural resources could source up to $5 billion in funding for primary education.

    The amount will come from 20 percent of potential revenues from 30 percent of the income for minerals, and 75 percent for oil and gas.

    All in all, the $5 billion will compose a fifth of the $26 billion financing gap for universal primary education, the report adds.

    Devex contributor Pauline Rose, director of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report, believes that the key is to ensure the transparency of natural resource exports and profitability of deals.

    “Many countries have mismanaged the income from their natural resources, have poorly negotiated with extractive companies, or have made misguided spending choices,” Rose said in a statement. “In some cases, the funds have been channeled into armed conflicts instead of towards education. If they managed their income revenue better and put 20 percent of the revenue into education, ten of the 17 countries we analyzed could reach universal primary education.”

    The report, supported by the Kofi Annan-led Africa Progress Panel, made the following recommendations:

    • ‘Old’ and ‘new’ resource-rich countries should maximize the revenue they get from their resources to improve social services and particularly education.

    • Funds from resources must be managed efficiently and transparently to enable citizens to monitor the way they are being used. All countries rich in natural resources should publish annual budget data (including resource revenues, the enacted budget, actual spending and an audit report) as well as sign up to the Extractives Industry Transparency initiative and other transparency and fair taxation measures.

    • At least 20 percent of the funds raised from resources should be channeled into education.

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    About the author

    • Johanna Morden

      Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a former Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covered the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business, and the law.