Source: Times of India
BANGALORE: The economic downturn has affected millions of children across the globe as aid to education declined. India, which already has the highest number of out-of-school children after Ethiopia and Pakistan, may be further affected.
The Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report (GMR) released on Monday, a copy of which is with TOI, says reduction in aid to basic education by the United States moved it from the largest bilateral donor to the second place. The Netherlands, another major donor pushing EFA, decided to phase out its education programmes. While France cut aid to education, Japan reduced aid by 30% and Canada by 21% last year.
The EU, too, reduced its aid by one-third between 2010 and 2011. The EU’s reduced spending impacted 74 countries, including those with low education records such as India, Bangladesh, Malawi, Papua Guinea and South Africa.
After Ethiopia and Pakistan, India has the highest number of out-of-school children at close to 17 million. India figures among top 10 recipients of aid for basic education. More than 57 million children continued to be denied the right to primary education, said the GMR 2013.
While aid to education increased steadily after 2002, the trend is reversing. In one year, total aid to education declined by 7% and fallen for the first time since 2002. “This is putting at risk the chances of meeting the 2015 goals because aid to secondary education too fell by 11%,” the report said.
Many states struggle to implement RTE
Six major bilateral donors – Canada, France, Japan, The Netherlands, Norway and the US – reduced their aid. Though government spending on education is crucial, in the absence of accountability in the spending of government funds, aid is critical to make changes on ground.
“At a time when we’re implementing the Right to Education (RTE) the aid cut will spell doom for us because funds is the biggest hurdle for India. Many states are struggling to implement the RTE due to lack of funds. About Rs 1,76,000 crore was the estimated amount for RTE way back in 1999 itself. The GNP is only 3.8% for education which makes aid very critical to have every child in school,” said V P Niranjanaradhya, Centre for Child and Law, National Law School of India University , Bangalore.
Not only has aid to basic education declined, but the funds allocated are not necessarily going to countries in dire need. According to the report , of the $5.8 billion in aid to basic education in 2011, only $1.9 billion was allocated to low-income countries faced with the biggest problems in achieving universal primary education.
In addition, while the World Bank increased its aid to basic education overall, its allocations to low-income countries declined by almost one quarter. South and West Asia (including India) has the biggest share of 31 million out-of-school young adolescents . As an educationist put it: “It’s sad that countries which are spending so much on defence have neglected one of their modest commitments – to get every child in school by 2015.” “India spends Rs 3,25,000 crore every year on education which is inadequate . The government has a constitutional responsibility to provide education. But quality education is expensive and, therefore, aid is crucial . Though infrastructure and teacher ratio is again the primary responsibility of the government, improving learning levels or Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation and the pedagogy process is where NGOs are involved. So the aid may affect this aspect,” said Dileep Ranjekar, CEO, Azim Premji Foundation.