July 06, 2015

Out-of-school numbers rise but education aid remains low

Ewan Watt

Online Editor, Theirworld

The world's out-of-school population has grown to 124 million - with 59 million primary-age children and 65 million adolescents not getting an education.

The new figures are revealed today and show that new targets to get all children into school will not be reached unless international aid to education is increased drastically.

Released by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA GMR), the data for 2013 shows one in 11 children aged six to 11 is out of school and 30 million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa. The number is an increase of 2.4 million since 2010 and the main causes of the increase are population growth and conflicts such as Syria.

According to UIS estimates, 24 million children will never enter a classroom. Half of all out-of-school primary children in sub-Saharan Africa will never enroll. Girls are the most disadvantaged, particularly in South and West Asia, where 80% of out-of-school girls are unlikely to start school, compared to just 16% for boys.

CAR children at refugee camp in Cameroon picture OCHA/Ivo Brandau

Children from Central African Republic at refugee camp in Cameroon Picture: OCHA/Ivo Brandau

Conflict is a huge barrier to education, said UIS Director Silvia Montoya. She added: "New data show the devastating impact of the civil war in Syria. Before the conflict, nearly every child was enrolled in primary school but by 2013 nearly two million children and adolescents were out of school.

"It took just two years of civil war to erase all education progress made since the start of the century.”

Related story: Gordon Brown demands emergency fund as out-of-school numbers rise

The report said international aid to education remains below 2010 levels and is grossly insufficient to meet new education targets to achieve universal primary and secondary education.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said: “The World Education Forum in Incheon in May framed an ambitious vision for the next 15 years, promising 12 years of free and equitable access to quality education.

Ukrainian children at school in Donetsk Oblast damaged during fighting picture UNICEF/Filippov

Ukrainian children at school in Donetsk Oblast damaged during fighting Picture: UNICEF/Filippov

“Notwithstanding the importance of domestic resources, this new paper warns that unless countries make serious commitments to increase aid at forthcoming conferences in Oslo and Addis Ababa, this target could remain elusive for millions of children and youth.”

The EFA GMR shows that, despite a small increase of 6% in aid to education, levels are 4% lower today than in 2010. Without renewed commitments, assistance will continue to stagnate until at least 2017.

It will cost an extra $40 billion to provide 12 years of education to everyone in low and lower-middle income countries. To fill this shortfall, donor countries must increase their aid to education by 600%. Instead, they are placing education lower on their list of priorities - half of donor countries decreased their aid to basic education from 2008-2010 and 2011-2013.

Aaron Benavot, Director of the EFA GMR, said: “Aid needs to be shooting upwards, not creeping up by a few percentage points. The world just set itself the huge goal of providing 12 years of free education. This simply won’t happen unless donors get serious about funding.”



Young adolescents are nearly twice as likely to be out of school as primary school-age children

One out of six adolescents is not in school, a total of 65 million in 2013. One-third of them live in South and West Asia and another third in sub-Saharan Africa, where there are more adolescents out of school today than in 2000.

Girls are the first to be excluded

In sub-Saharan Africa, 56% (or 9.3 million) of out-of-school girls will never start school compared to 41% of out-of-school boys. The situation is even more extreme in South and West Asia, where 80% of out-of-school girls are unlikely to ever start school.

Conflict is a major barrier to education

Before the war in Syria, nearly every child was enrolled in primary school. Now, new UIS data show that just two years of civil war left 1.8 million children and adolescents without an education.

Donors are putting education lower down their list of priorities

Many donors are cutting their aid to basic education - 23 out of 47 donors decreased their aid to basic education between 2008-2010 and 2011-2013. Health is gaining more traction in aid budgets - compared to 2003, when health and education received the same shares of total aid, the share that education has been receiving has been slowly declining to reach just 8% in 2013 while health received 15%.

What aid there is is not going where it is needed most

In 2013, only a third of aid to basic education was allocated to the poorest countries. Almost half of the poorest countries saw aid to basic education decline. Despite sub-Saharan Africa accounting for over half of all out-of-school children, aid to basic education to the region made up only a third of total resources.

Aid to education per child depends on where they are born

There is huge disparity in terms of the amount of aid allocated per child, ranging from $4 in Chad to $41 in Afghanistan over 2011-2013.

Aid to education is shifting away from basic education

Although 124 million children and adolescents remain out of school, and there is an annual funding gap of $7.5 billion for primary education alone between 2015 and 2030, aid to basic education is on the decline. The share of multilateral aid going to basic education fell from 63% in 2005 to 43% in 2013. The World Bank, the largest multilateral donor, decreased the share of aid to basic education from 63% over 2002–2004 to 47% over 2011–2013. The United Kingdom has reduced the share of aid disbursements to basic education from 73% at the beginning of the decade to just 57% over 2011–2013.

Gordon Brown demands emergency fund as out-of-school numbers rise

Read the full EFA GMR report here

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