Unesco sounds alarm on education funding

December 9, 2010

Unesco has sounded the alarm on vital education funding saying that aid disbursements to basic education have stopped increasing for the first time since 2000.

“Business as usual is not working. Aid disbursements to basic education have stagnated at $4.7bn in 2008,” Irina Bokova, Unesco director general, told on Wednesday a global forum in Doha.

“Education is the way to invest out of the economic crisis. We must explore tangible proposals for innovative financing as decisions we take now will lay the foundations for the century ahead. In this light, the starting point must be to demonstrate that education plays a central role in employment creation, income generation and poverty reduction. Quality education also promotes better health, democratic participation, gender equality and environmental sustainability,” she said.

Bokova made the remarks as around 1,200 delegates to the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) 2010 forum explored innovative education funding options as solution to economic recovery and discussed ways to address and overcome such difficulties.

Organisers said that WISE 2010 aimed to raise the status of education as a topical world issue, seek new ways to improve both access and quality, and inspire practical initiatives that will make a real difference to the lives of people across the globe.
According to Steen Jorgenson, World Bank Sector Director, the way ahead will entail a shift in focus.

“Where the emphasis had typically been placed on an engineering approach to reform, such as building more schools and training more teachers, now incentives to better align inputs and performance with results and accountability are to be given priority. Innovative financing clearly has a role to play in this shift,” he said.

The fundamental principles for funding the education sector were raised at the summit included the protection of education budgets.

“It will be critical for national governments to protect their education budgets and invest in education as a solution to economic uncertainty,” the delegates said.

Under the value for money, educators have to demonstrate that education is vital for economic recovery and that investment in education will result in a substantial return through increased employment and poverty reduction.

However, for future financing, the summit said that education required innovative financing to secure the long term future and viability of projects.

“Innovative financing of education must happen in two ways; funds should be raised innovatively and they should be disbursed in innovative ways.”

In her reference to the future financing of education, Bokova cited the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development’s Task Force on Education, which identified a tax on international financial transactions – a 0.005 per cent on transactions between four major currencies could raise $30bn a year.

Local currency education bonds, an education venture fund, debt swaps for education, public-private partnerships, and micro-donations from bank transactions were also identified as viable financing mechanisms which could be implemented without great difficulty.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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