Education for All: A Global Commitment without Global Funding

Latest Publication from the ESP Working Paper Series

Joel Samoff and Margaret Irving
Publication Date:
Tue, 15/04/2014 - 11:18
File Size:
2.24 MB

Since 1990 the world has regularly declared that everyone on the planet should have access to education. Yet from the outset, that global commitment to education for all has not had a parallel global funding commitment. Foreign aid was expected to close the gap between national resources and the funding required. Yet periodic calculations of the Education for All (EFA) funding gap have shown it to be increasing, not disappearing.

Most recently attention has turned to proposed alternative funding strategies, including conditional debt relief, bonds of various sorts, disapora remittances, privatization, and taxes on international financial transactions and sports tickets. With a focus on Africa, we review the research on the EFA funding gap and the alternative funding strategies most widely discussed. Our analysis suggests that efforts to close the funding gap must start at home. The assumption that there are no additional educational resources in Africa is simply not tenable. Foreign aid, it seems clear, will remain important but cannot close the education funding gap. Several of the alternative funding strategies may generate some additional funding, but most likely, not much and not soon, and perhaps not for education. As well, many of the proposed strategies may increase education funding at the expense of increased inequality. Within affluent countries, where education is a right and broadly regarded as a societal good, its funding is by design redistributive.

Achieving education for all requires redistributive funding at the global scale. If achieving education for all is the world’s responsibility, so must be funding it.