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Increase share of UK aid to global education

21 November 2017

International Development Committee calls for significant spending on global education to underpin efforts to improve lives. Without an educated population, a country cannot progress out of poverty, says the report. Public health, skilled workforces, economic prosperity, civil society – all benefit from sustained investment in global education.

Key findings

Rooted in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals is the aspiration that the poorest and most marginalised communities are able to learn. SDG4 called for inclusive and quality education for all, signing up countries to improve global education in the pursuit of ‘leaving no one behind.'

Current estimates predict a $1.8 trillion funding shortfall across middle and low income countries compared to the resources required to meet SDG4 on education by 2030. Unless donors spend significantly more of their official development assistance on education, there will continue to be a funding shortfall. The UK Government should also use its power to influence partner countries to encourage more of their domestic spending on education.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is the only multilateral fund which focuses solely on education. The Committee is calling on DFID to give the full amount requested to GPE, the only multilateral fund for education, in the next round of funding replenishment. To act as a driver to other donors, this should be announced early to encourage other donors to increase their pledges.

Although the benefits of early years education are proven - better health, a longer time in education and higher incomes – just 15% of children in low income countries have access to pre-primary education compared to 82% in high income countries. DFID should invest more in this area: expenditure on early years education is low in comparison to its investment in other stages of education, accounting for just under 0.6% of its bilateral education budget.

The current context for global education is particularly challenging: around the world, 263 million children and young people remain out of school. The global population of forcibly displaced people is at a record high, including 22.5 million refugees, half of whom are under 18. Half of the world's registered refugees are not in school. The mean duration of refugees and IDPs in exile is 10.3 years – more than a UK child would spend in primary or secondary education.

Evidence shows that education is a high priority for families in crisis. Alongside clean water, food, sanitation and shelter, DFID should establish a long-term, integrated strategy for supporting education in emergencies to get children back into structured learning environments.

Chair's comments

Stephen Twigg MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“With a policy refresh on global education underway at DFID, the Committee is calling on the Department to put the most marginalised children and young people at the heart of their work. The very poorest, disabled children, girls and those affected by conflict and emergencies, should not be left behind.

The Committee supports the Department's work to ensure maximum impact for their spending. Resources should be targeted at the foundations of development and the most marginalised groups. This should also be borne in mind for cross-Government funds.

For some, the situation in global education is a crisis. One of the central aims of Sustainable Development Goal 4, agreed in 2015, was that no-one would be left behind. To achieve this in education will require a substantial increase in finance, access and quality. DFID is recognised as a global leader in promoting education in developing countries and we urge them to champion the needs of the most marginalised children and young people across the world.”

Further information

Image: DFID-Nick Cunard