MDG on education in danger as aid drops

    A student leads a class on a lesson about the pronunciation of the alphabet in Nepal. Aid cuts to education may result in failing to meet the Millennium Development Goal on education, warns UNESCO. Photo by: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank / CC BY-NC-ND

    As the post-2015 debate continues, a new report warns that the MDG on education may not be met as aid drops for the first time since 2002.

    The number of children out of school rose to over 57 million in 2011, according to a new UNESCO policy paper which found that more than half of the out-of-school youth are in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Nigeria leading the pack.

    And this comes as total foreign aid for education declined by 7 percent from $6.2 billion in 2002 to $5.8 billion in 2011, a trend that Pauline Rose, director of UNESCO’s Education For All Global Monitoring Report, believes could linger after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015.

    “Part of the reason why there are still 57 million children out of school is because not enough effort was put on helping the hardest-to-reach children first –- girls, the poorest, those in rural areas, children with disabilities and those living in conflict-affected countries,” Rose told Devex.

    The UNESCO official underscored how eight of the top ten international donors have reduced their aid to basic education in low-income countries, while five of the top ten also curbed their contributions to education in Subsaharan Africa in 2010-2011. The biggest cuts came from Canada, the Netherlands and the World Bank, which reduced their aid to the region by over one third, followed closely by EU institutions, which slashed their spending by a quarter.

    Rose now urges donors to “act urgently” to fill the $26 billion financing gap she said is needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015, as mandated under MDG No. 2.

    “To avoid the same situation of failed promises occurring after 2015 when ambitions for achieving new goals will be high, it is essential that a goal on finance is set to hold old and new donors, the private sector and governments to account,” she added.

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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.