Bleak future for 132 million children out of school in poor countries

Bleak future for 132 million children out of school in poor countries

A total of 132 million children and adolescents out of school in the world’s poorest countries are facing bleak future.

But these kids could have a better future if the total amount of 3.1 billion USD of aid being spent on scholarships for developing countries’ students studying in donor countries could be allocated for their education.

This was revealed yesterday by a new research from the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFA-GMR) published by UNESCO.

The report says at least 20% of aid from the four largest donors to education is spent on scholarships and imputed student costs (costs incurred by donor-country institutions when they receive students from developing countries), rather than targeted at the key education priorities of poor countries.

Japan, Canada, Germany and France are the world’s biggest donors to education.

GMR director Pauline Rose is disappointed. She said: “The world’s poorest children are paying a high price for scholarships.

“This money could be more effectively spent helping the world’s poorest children. For each scholarship provided for a student to study at a university in a developed country, hundreds of students in a developing country could receive basic education.”

Some observers believe these revelations show that the international community’s pledge to improve adult literacy levels by 50% between 2000 and 2015 seems to be nothing but an empty dream.

While countries with lowest literacy rates such as Senegal, Mali, Chad and Niger – to name only a few – are struggling to send their children to school, donor countries’ education priorities appear misguided and ill-conceived.

The number of children attending primary and secondary school in Senegal has dramatically fallen between 2005 and 2010-2011, according to the National Agency for Statistics and Demography (ANSD).

Primary school attendance rate was 58% in 2005, but went down to 18%, while only 28% of children were attending secondary school in 2010-11, compared to 54% in 2005.

The EFA-GMR research revealed that in 2010, almost 40% of Japan’s direct aid to education went to scholarships for students studying in Japan, the equivalent for Canada was 22%.

Germany’s aid disbursements to scholarships and imputed student costs were almost 11 times the amount it spent on direct aid to general secondary education and vocational training in 2010.

That same year, France’s aid disbursements to scholarships and imputed student costs were four times as much as was spent on direct aid to general secondary education and vocational training.

Released in the aftermath of a Bali summit at which the UN High Level Panel called for ‘strengthened’ ‘financing for development’ after 2015, the research shows that:

  • One single scholarship for a Nepalese student in Japan, for example, could pay for 229 secondary school students in Nepal.
  • One scholarship in Canada could pay for 184 students in Nepal, 58 students in Ghana or 69 students in Guatemala.
  • One scholarship in France could pay for 256 students in Guinea or 66 in Rwanda.

EFA-GMR recently calculated that the finance gap for basic education had increased by $10 billion a year in just three years, totaling $26 billion.

“Simply reallocating the funds donors spend on scholarships and imputed costs would pay off almost an eighth of this gap,” the report said.

*Photo by Integrated Tech Now

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