Tony Baker, from RESULTS US, discusses the latest Education for All report and the increasingly important role that the Global Partnership for Education is playing in helping to get more children into school.

The 2013/14 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the world’s most comprehensive annual report documenting progress towards the Education for All goals, was launched yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Developed and published by UNESCO, this year’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR) bears the theme “Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all.” The report draws attention to the learning in many parts of the world:

  • 250 million children (38% of the world’s children of primary school age) are not learning the basics in reading and mathematics, let alone higher skills.
  • Even with four years in school, one out of four young people in low and lower middle income countries cannot read a sentence.
  • In a third of the countries analyzed, less than 75% of primary school teachers are trained.
  • By 2015, only 56% of countries are likely to achieve universal primary education.
  • The poorest girls in sub-Sahara Africa won’t complete lower secondary school until the 22nd century.

To support teachers and end the learning crisis, the report lays out four strategies: (1) attract good quality teachers, (2) improve teacher education, (3) ensure the best teachers teach the most disadvantaged students, and (4) retain good teachers with incentives including better salaries and attractive career paths.

The Global Partnership for Education targets low and middle-income countries

The 2013/14 EFA GMR also highlights the increasingly important role that the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is playing in basic education, particularly in some of the most critical education environments in the world:

“The GPE is an important source of external financing for education for some low and lower middle income countries, although currently it only accounts for a small proportion of education aid. Between 2004 and 2011, donors paid in US$2 billion to the GPE. By comparison, donors spent US$32 billion in aid to basic education to low and lower middle income countries over the same period. However, the GPE’s influence appears to be increasing over time.”

In the 31 countries that had GPE program implementation grants in 2011, GPE support represented 24% of their basic education aid. Designed to act more as catalyst to crowd in additional resources, GPE program implementation grants constituted no more than one fifth of aid to basic education in one third of the countries which had received GPE funds in 2011. In other countries, however, the Global Partnership provided the primary means of support to basic education, making up more than 50% of basic education aid to Guyana, the Gambia, and the Central African Republic in 2011.

Graph for GPE blogThe Global Partnership for Education alone cannot feel this gap

With disbursements to basic education climbing to an all-time high of $385 million, GPE was the fourth largest donor to low and lower middle income countries in 2011. However, the EFA GMR points out that this increase in spending “is unlikely to have filled the gap left by the World Bank’s reduction in aid to low income countries.” While World Bank support to basic education increased by 13% between 2010 and 2011, the amount going to low income countries fell by 23%.

The report also warns of the alarming rate at which education aid is declining in general. Between 2010 and 2011:

  • Total aid to all levels of education declined by 7% between 2010 and 2011.
  • Aid to basic education fell for the first time since 2002, by 6%.
  • Aid to secondary education declined by 11% from an already low level.

The June 2014 pledging conference

As the Global Monitoring Report clearly precautions, the overall decline in education aid “puts at risk the chance of meeting Education for All goals and any hope of more ambitious goals to include universal lower secondary education after 2015.”

While the Global Partnership for Education alone cannot fill the education finance gap, its replenishment conference to be held in June 2014 offers the international community the opportunity to commit funds to drive the partnership’s increasingly important work over the 2015-2018 period. The conference will also help   to raise bilateral and multilateral aid to the levels needed to end the learning crisis, ensure a quality education for all in a post-2015 world, and unlock the national and global prosperity promised by a quality education.