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DFID should spend more of its budget on education

27 April 2017

Committee urges Secretary of State for International Development in letter to increase spending on global education.

Ten percent of DFID's spending should be dedicated to tackling the global learning crisis, say MPs on the International Development Committee.

In a letter to the Secretary of State, Priti Patel MP, published today in lieu of a final report, the Committee says education is central to development. It improves life chances, has a positive outcome on health, helps prevent conflict, increases a country's human capital and contributes to economic development. The commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” is enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 4, which the UK, along with 192 other signatory countries, has adopted.

However, DFID's current spending on education lags behind health, disaster and government and civil society, at just over eight percent.  There has been a clear decline in international aid spending on education since 2011.  In evidence to the Committee, MPs heard the average expenditure per child in low and middle-income countries was less than $10 per head per year, even with spending of all aid agencies taken together. The proportion of the global humanitarian budget spent on education is just 1.8%.
Despite an increasing UK aid budget, DFID's spending on education remains lower than its spending on disaster, health and government and civil society. Because of this, the Committee is calling on DFID to spend at least ten percent of its budget on education.

DFID has been a leader on education in emergencies. The Committee commends the work being delivered in Jordan and Lebanon to ensure Syrian refugees have access to education.  However, the current UK aid strategy fails to place enough emphasis on ensuring all children across the developing world have access to quality education. Access to a quality education remains a pipe dream for millions of marginalised children, especially girls, disabled children and refugees.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“More than 250 million children and young people are currently out of school and another 330 million are in school but not learning. There is a global learning crisis.

Even though we know the benefits of education, there is not enough funding from the international community to deliver this, particularly in the low-income countries which need most support. National governments in low and middle income countries should also be investing in their education systems.

Currently, we are leaving millions of children behind, deprived of an education. We must take action to ensure the most marginalised children can go to school, including the poorest children, those whose lives are torn apart by emergencies, girls, and children with disabilities.

Education has been shamefully neglected by the international community and many national governments. The forthcoming G7 and G20 summits will offer crucial opportunities to attract the funding and commitment to achieve SDG 4. DFID has the chance to be a global leader on education and must not be afraid to stand up for the most vulnerable to ensure that no child is left behind.”

Further information

Image: Department for International Development