Worlds of Education

No emergence of Africa without substantial public funding for education at the national level.

published 28 July 2021 updated 18 August 2021
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As with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and regardless of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG4 aiming to provide everyone with quality education, are not likely to be achieved by 2030.

As the World Education Summit takes place this week, and the culmination of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) fundraising campaign by 2025, what credibility can be given to the commitments of Heads of State and the international community when they follow one another and never produce the expected effects?

Education is the basis of all sustainable development and, practically, a part of the solution to all other problems. Adequate and secure national investment is required from governments to ensure inclusive quality public education, a pledge of emergence in Africa.

The financing of education is the responsibility of the state. For sovereignty and development, it is important and urgent to provide the financing of the education sector by national resources so that external contributions only come as a supplement.

While studies note an increasing evolution of Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in Africa [1], budgets allocated to education have changed little. They are on average, in sub-Saharan Africa, around 4.6% of the GDP and represent less than 20% of the national budget.

Paradoxically, even if the States seem to comply with the Incheon Declaration that they adopted in 2015, without however reaching 6% of the GDP and 20% of the national budget dedicated to the financing of education, the needs in quality education and training remain unsatisfied. This leads to great instability in education systems, the exclusion and abandonment of many adults, youth, and children, especially girls, but also a deficit in teaching staff and inputs.

The health crisis with the advent of COVID-19 has exposed education systems, exacerbated multiple deficits of all kinds in education and the sector's need for more funding. New paradigms have emerged in education, distance education for which many systems were not prepared, and which creates new needs and new constraints for the accessibility of education for all.

It has become an imperative for our states to take the right decisions to make education a top priority. It is a question of reorienting existing resources but also of seeking additional revenue by prospecting for sources of innovative financing, such as the taxation of goods and services, such as financial transactions, telecommunications, luxury products, the exploitation of natural resources and the introduction of environmental taxation.

The use of these funding niches as well as rigor in budgetary funding, including efficient allocation of grants and better regulation of exemptions, could provide substantial internal funding from stable sources.

It is within reach, with strong political will from governments, as well as pressure from unions and other civil society actors.

Education International and its member organisations have an important role to play and a duty to mobilize more to get states to honour their commitments: ensuring adequate investment in education and in the teaching profession.

The emergence of countries depends on the quality of their resource persons and necessarily requires inclusive quality public education.

1. ^

Cf. for example, Young A. (2012), “The African Growth Miracle”, Journal of Political Economy, n° 120, pp. 696-739.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official policies or positions of Education International.