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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30019

Title: International Aid to Education: Moderated Discussion
Authors: Benavot, A.
Archer, D.
Mosely, S.
Mundy, Karen
Phiri, F.
Steer, L.
Wiking, D.
Keywords: education
international aid
global economy
developing countries
literacy
educational aid
universal education
access to education
Global Campaign for education
Issue Date: Jun-2010
Publisher: Comparative Education Review
Citation: Benavot, A, D. Archer, S. Mosely, K.Mundy, F. Phiri, L. Steer, D. Wiking. (2010). International Aid to Education: Moderated Discussion. Comparative Education Review 54(1): pp. 105-124.
Abstract: The ultimate financial responsibility for improving educational access, participation, and quality lies with national governments. However, for many countries, particularly the poorest and most conflict affected, educational progress depends, to a significant extent, on aid coming from bilateral, multilateral, and philanthropic agencies. Since 2000, when the international community pledged that no country seriously committed to achieving Education for All (EFA) would want for lack of funding, the importance of using aid to construct classrooms, distribute textbooks, pay teachers, and assess learning has increased. But many have voiced concerns that donor countries are reneging on their promises and cutting back on aid to education. Recent evidence highlights several worrisome trends regarding aid pledges and disbursements, which have been exacerbated by the global financial crisis.1 First, while overall development assistance rose in 2008, after 2 years of decline, the share of all sector aid going to the education sector has remained virtually unchanged at about 12 percent since 2000. By contrast, aid to the health sector increased in the 2000–2008 period from 11 percent to 17 percent. Second, members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) disbursed approximately US$10.8 billion of overall aid to education in 2007, up from US$5.2 billion in 2002.2 However, the share of aid going to basic education declined from 41 percent to 38 percent during the same period. Third, the number of donors providing aid to education is concentrated among a small group of donors: only five donors account for over 60 percent of all aid commitments to basic education. This means that decisions to cut funds among certain donors can have major global reverberations. Fourth, during the recent recession some donors have sustained, or even increased, their aid commitments (e.g., the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain), while others have severely cut back (Ireland, Italy) on aid pledges. This unpredictability in future aid undermines sound educational planning. Fifth, overall aid from non‐OECD countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India, China) appears to be rising; so too are the contributions of private foundations and philanthropies. However, the share of this aid targeting educational frameworks varies considerably across countries and agencies, and it is inconsistent over time. Finally, aid allocation to conflict‐affected countries, where educational challenges are acute, is highly concentrated (mostly to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Pakistan); many other conflict‐affected countries receive insufficient aid relative to their educational needs. These trends underscore the concerns of many educational stakeholders: an inadequate level and predictability of education aid, an insufficient targeting of aid to basic education, a high concentration of aid donors, and aid flows not matching real educational need. These issues further amplify continuing debates over whether donors and recipient countries can improve aid effectiveness and developed institutional capacities and whether the EFA Fast‐Track Initiative (FTI) embodies the most appropriate platform for mobilizing and disbursing funds for education, or if a new platform is necessary. With these issues and concerns in mind, CER invited several experts—David Archer, Stephen Moseley, Karen Mundy, Felix Phiri, Liesbet Steer, and David Wiking—to participate in a special moderated discussion on international aid to education. This group brings an unusually rich array of knowledge, perspectives, and experience to the discussion, as they represent bilateral donor agencies (Moseley, Wiking), nongovernmental organizations (Archer), educational planners in national education ministries (Phiri), as well as comparative education researchers (Mundy and Steer). To create a broad basis for exchange and debate, participants were first asked to read several relevant background documents.3 They were then requested to respond to one or two of the following questions: 1. Around which educational challenges have multilateral and bilateral aid strategies brought about real progress on the ground over the past decade? 2. What have been the accomplishments and shortcomings in implementing the Education for All Fast‐Track Initiative (FTI), which was established in 2002 as a global partnership between donor agencies and developing countries to accelerate progress toward free, universal primary education by 2015? 3. Given the current global financial crisis and the long‐term global economic situation, which policy options best address the challenges facing donor agencies and recipient countries in mobilizing and effectively distributing international aid for education? The initial discussion was joined by four colleagues; additional viewpoints emerged at a subsequent stage with contributions from other participants. The entire moderated discussion was then edited and shortened. We believe that these exchanges will enable CER readers to better appreciate the tone and parameters of the ongoing debate over aid to education and to begin clarifying sound policy options.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/30019
Appears in Collections:Faculty (CTL)

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