New global education fund needed for 72 million children

By Oxfam

Washington, DC— Efforts to provide universal basic education in the poorest countries are failing because of poor governance of the world’s education financing body and lack of investment by donors, said international humanitarian organization Oxfam today.

In a new report entitled “Rescuing Education For All,” Oxfam cautioned that the future of 72 million children currently out of school depends on a fundamental shift in the way education is funded globally. Oxfam called on G8 and G20 leaders to launch a Global Fund for Education at their annual summit in Canada in June.

“The way to better education for kids around the world is local schools that work for them and their families,” said Gregory Adams, Acting Director of Aid Effectiveness for Oxfam America.  “Poor people know what they need, and know what works in their own communities. Structured right, a Global Fund for Education can give new opportunity to millions of kids around the world by working with communities and local governments so they have a role in setting the agenda.” 

The Oxfam report highlights an alarming decline in aid commitments to the Education for All - Fast-Track Initiative (FTI), set up by world leaders in 2002 to help low-income countries achieve universal basic education. While the FTI is a truly innovative model— with developing countries taking the lead in designing their national education strategies— the FTI suffers from lack of autonomy from the World Bank, weak governance and stakeholder participation, and bureaucratic hold ups.

“The Fast Track Initiative was a breakthrough approach that let governments in poor countries set their education agenda for their own people,” said Adams. “Now we need to go further, scale up funds and fix the structural issues that have plagued the effort. If structured correctly, a Global Fund for Education can give recipient countries and citizens more information, capacity and control over how funds are allocated, which will lead to better schools.”

The report calls on urgent reform of the FTI into a more ambitious and effective Global Fund for Education. This redesigned effort must feature autonomous management and inclusive governance; greater country ownership through better quality aid; improved accountability structures; and more flexibility to respond to the needs of children in conflict-affected and fragile states.

The Netherlands, United Kingdom, the European Commission and Spain are currently major contributors to the FTI, but other G8 countries have neglected the initiative. While the US has not yet participated in the Initiative, it is well-placed to provide strong leadership in this arena.

“The Global Fund for Education—if done right—can take us closer to the goal of Education for All,” said Adams. “As a candidate, President Obama made a commitment to create a $2 billion global education fund. Secretary Clinton, who has a strong track record of support for global education programs, reiterated that promise. It’s time for the US government to step up to the plate and ensure that a Global Fund for Education has the resources and the mandate to put poor people in charge of ensuring their kids can get a quality education.”

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Oxfam America is dedicated to finding long-term solutions to poverty, hunger and social injustice around the world. For more information, please visit www.oxfamamerica.org.

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