Aid cuts to hurt agenda on education

Saturday February 9 2013

By SCOLA KAMAU Special Correspondent

East African countries are likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on achieving universal primary education by 2015, as donors cut funding to the sector, a new report has warned.

The Unesco Education For All (EFA) global monitoring report notes that rich economies are cutting funding to education projects in developing countries due to economic challenges in their countries, a situation expected to prevail until 2015.

“There are worrying signs that aid to education may be slowing down just when children and young people need it most,” said Pauline Rose, the director of EFA. “Governments and donors must find the money to help young people acquire the skills they and their countries need desperately.”

Past donors include the Netherlands, which no longer considers education among its priority areas, and is expected to cut aid by 60 per cent up to 2015.

“New donors such as Brazil, China and India are receiving greater attention but they are not yet providing large volumes of aid, nor are they prioritising aid to basic education for low income countries,” says the report.

Experts said in developing countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi, universal primary education schemes suffer from low quality education, a poor learning environment and swelling pupil numbers with few teachers.

Uganda is among countries in sub-Saharan Africa where Unesco rates dropout cases highest at 68 per cent.

“We have already seen aid to basic education decrease significantly in Uganda —from 148 million a year in 2002 to 84 million in 2010 even though the country has over 600,000 children still out of primary school,” said Ms Rose.