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Amid global decline, international aid for education in Pakistan increases

Despite a decline in the amount of aid allocated to education worldwide for six consecutive years, aid for education in Pakistan has increased with a majority of it being spent on basic learning, revealed a new policy paper on Thursday.

According to the paper – Aid to Education is Stagnating and Not Going to Countries Most in Need – published by UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, the amount of aid allocated to education worldwide has been falling for six years in a row.

However, a different trend has been observed in the report for Pakistan. The country received $649 million, the highest it had received so far.

According to the data in the paper, the aid had increased from $586 million in 2014 to $649 million in 2015. The paper also reports that Pakistan received the most aid out of all the countries in Southern Asia, with India just behind receiving $589 million in 2015. The biggest part of the aid to Pakistan was given for basic education. Out of the total $649 million, $371 million or 57.16 per cent was given for basic education.

According to the paper, total aid to education stands at $12 billion – 4.0 per cent lower than in 2010 – while total development aid over the same period increased by 24 per cent. Aid to basic education – which includes support to pre-primary and primary education as well as adult education and literacy programmes – stands at $5.2 billion, up from $4.8 billion in 2014. This amount is still 6.0 per cent lower than in 2010. Aid to secondary education, meanwhile, amounts to $2.2 billion, representing 19 per cent of the total aid to education.

The analysis in the policy paper is based on the newly-released data from the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

“Aid remains far short of what is needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 4, putting our commitments at risk,” said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova in a press statement. “Aid would need to be multiplied by at least six to achieve our common education goals and must go to countries most in need. Yet, we see that donors to education are shifting their attention away from the poorest countries,” she cautioned.

The United States and the United Kingdom remain the two largest donors to basic education, but they reduced their allocations by 11 per cent and 9.0 per cent, respectively in 2014-2015. Norway and Germany, meanwhile, increased their allocations to basic education by 50 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively.

Aid is not being allocated according to need. Sub-Saharan Africa, home to over half of the world’s out-of-school children now receives less than half the aid to basic education it obtained in 2002. This amounts to 26 per cent of total aid to basic education, barely more than the 22 per cent allocated to Northern Africa and Western Asia, where 9.0 per cent of children are out of school.

In contrast to trends in bilateral aid to education, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) allocated 77 per cent of its disbursements to sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 per cent to countries affected by instability and conflict.

The paper provides country-specific examples of donors’ biased resource allocation. It demonstrates that aid is not allocated according to out-of-school rates so as to meet the cost of achieving universal education in each country concerned.

While humanitarian aid to education has reached a historic high, increasing by 55 per cent from 2015 to 2016, it still receives only 2.7 per cent of total aid available, amounting to 48 per cent of the amount requested.

The paper draws attention to three major proposals for donors to reverse the move away from education: The GPE Replenishment Campaign is seeking to raise $3.1 billion for the period 2018-20, aiming to reach $2.0 billion annually by 2020, or four times more than the current funding level.

Second, an International Finance Facility for Education proposed by the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity affirms it could leverage around $10 billion in additional financing per year by 2020 for development banks to expand their education portfolio and target lower middle-income countries.

Last but not the least, The Education Cannot Wait Fund established in 2016 aims to raise $3.85 billion by 2020, which would transform the delivery of education in emergencies.

Sheikh, Ammar. Amid global decline, international aid for education in Pakistan increases. The Express Tribune, June 9, 2017.

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