SEATTLE — Most advocacy groups and institutions agree that education is key to raising people out of poverty. It provides people with a way to earn a living, empowers women and young girls, and aids disease prevention. Since the UN Millennium Development Goals of 2000 have been the focus of international development, access to education increased as well as the quality. The UN promised to resolve that all children, boys and girls, would have equal access to a primary education.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, spending on education grew from $12.5 billion in 1999 to $57 billion in 2011. The enrollment rate of primary schools in developing nations is about 90 percent of children; however, there remain 69 million children out of primary school. After 2007, there has not been as much progress noted as there was from the 2000 to 2007 time-span.
In recent years, the funding for global education decreased, for several reasons.
The first notice in the lessening of spending was after the recession. Donors and governments just gave less money. Sadly, this trend continued, despite the recession ending. The amount of money going towards education fell to 10 percent of the development aid money. The number of donors also fell. Not all governments spent the recommended amount of 6 percent of their Gross National Product either.
There is also a misconception that the issues about global education have been solved. The large success in providing youth education has side-swept the fact that there are million of children who are still not in school.
Children are kept out of school for various reasons. One reason, war, keeps 40,000 children fighting as child soldiers. Thousands of children (and their teachers) flee to refugee camps or do not attend school because of violence. Many families send their children to work as an extra source of income. There are 168 million children working instead of getting a full education. Natural disasters, like the earthquake in Nepal, makes getting an education difficult until the situation is fully resolved. Also, youth marriages keep young girls from school and an education.
Clearly, the issue of providing a complete primary school education to all boys and girls is still on-going.
The money that still goes to global education should be used resourcefully and appropriated correctly. Some countries like Kenya and Nigeria have difficulties in this area. If the governments spent the funds correctly, an additional 150,000 children could have attended school. The education spending accounts, unlike the National Health Accounts, are not institutionalized. This means that there is no full accountability on where and how the money is used for education.
Despite funding for global education stalling, improvements continue to be made for education. Much more could be done, and more people reached, if funding increased.
– Katherine Hewitt
Sources: Brookings, Zee News, UN 1, UN 2,
Photo: Unicef Learning for Peace