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UN warns of education funding gap
March 15, 2013, 11:41 pm

The UN says funding gaps hurt primary education goals for low-income countries [Getty Images]

The UN says funding gaps hurt primary education goals for low-income countries [Getty Images]

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is warning that an increasing funding gap for education in low-income countries will affect the achievement of universal primary education.

Providing universal primary education is the second of the Millennium Development Goals that are meant to be reached in 2015 by developing countries.

“The $16 billion annual external funding gap to achieve basic education in low-income countries by the 2015 target date has widened to $26 billion over the last three years,” said UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

“Stagnating aid to basic education in low-income countries, which runs at an average of $3 billion annually, is the main reason for the $10 billion increase in the funding gap,” the Paris-based agency said in the report released ahead of a decisive global consultation on education in the post-2015 development agenda scheduled in Dakar, Senegal on March 18-19.

However, the UNESCO study shows that “filling the funding gap is possible.”

“While $26 billion sounds like a large gap to fill, the analysis shows that it is possible to raise the resources needed to enroll every child in school by 2015,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

She recalled that in 2000, donor governments promised that no country would be prevented from achieving Education for All by a lack of resources.

“Alongside national governments, donors must now step up their efforts, to make sure finance is not the obstacle that stands in the way of helping all children go to school,” the UNESCO chief stressed.

The report outlined a number of possible solutions that would help make basic education achievable by 2015, including improving tax systems.

“If both governments and donors directed 20 per cent of their budgets to education and prioritized basic education, nearly 12 billion dollars would be raised,” it said.

“After 2015 we cannot take it for granted that resources will be available to meet international commitments,” said Pauline Rose, director of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

“Our key recommendation for those who are setting goals is that they must include a new, time-bound, measurable financing target to hold donor and recipient governments to account for ensuring that all countries provide everyone with a good quality education,” said the UN expert.