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COVID-19 contributed to major education funding gap, report finds

April 8, 2021

Reprinted from PND.

An additional $59 billion a year in funding is needed to meet the United Nations’ goal of quality education for every child by 2030, a report from Theirworld finds.

Based on pre-pandemic estimates and additional post-pandemic data, the report, The Education Finance Playbook (29 pages, PDF), found that current aid to education globally totals some $16 billion annually—a figure that has been trending down—while at least $75 billion a year is needed. According to Theirworld, if the annual funding gap is not met—and there are no plans or proposals to address the gap currently—more than half the world’s children are at risk of failing to attain basic literacy skills by 2030.

To remedy the situation, the report urges G7 leaders to fully fund the appropriate UN agencies and specialized global funds such as the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait; commit an initial $1 billion in innovative finance with the aim of generating more than $25 billion in new education funding for lower-income countries; and mobilize additional financing around several big-ticket pandemic recovery initiatives, including broadband connectivity, an expansion of school meal programs, and early childhood education. According to Theirworld, the coronavirus pandemic at its peak forced more than 1.6 billion children, including 767 million girls, out of school, putting them at greater risk of sexual exploitation, child marriage, and domestic abuse. Without proper investment in education, more than 20 million children are at risk of never returning to the classroom.

“Even before COVID-19, two hundred and sixty million children were not in school,” said Theirworld president Justin van Fleet. “The pandemic has worsened the global education crisis, pushing the world’s most vulnerable children further to the margins. Funding education for every single child on the planet by 2030 is attainable, but it will require bold action from brave leaders. Currently, the numbers just don’t add up. If we are to achieve the goal of quality education for all children, even if poorer countries maximize their domestic revenue and prioritize education, we face a gap of at least $75 billion on average a year. Current aid is a drop in the ocean—currently at just $16 billion a year—so innovative finance is crucial.”

“World leaders will fail children unless urgent action is taken to increase investment in education, warns Theirworld,” Theirworld press release, 04/06/2021.

Tags: Education