Financing Quality Education for All is a Development Priority
The Case for Education Finance
Have you ever walked into a school that doesn’t have enough resources? What are some of the most visible signs? Classes may be over-crowded and students might not have any books or reading materials. Without the proper resources, students cannot perform at their fullest potential.
Too many schools are in dire conditions. The pressure of scarce financial resources, demographic changes, and growing school enrollment strains the education systems of partner countries. A report by the Education Commission estimates that low- and middle-income countries will require $3 trillion in annual education spending by 2030. This represents a $1.8 trillion gap from current spending levels.
A Catalyst for Development
Finance is critical to a country’s education system, but donor funding alone is not — and cannot be — the answer. While donors play an important role in supporting the education system of a particular country, it’s up to a country’s leadership and citizens to advocate and secure the financial resources necessary to build a strong, inclusive education system that benefits everyone and leads to sustained learning outcomes and economic growth.
When children and youth get the education and skills needed to become productive members of society, countries thrive. Removing barriers to education creates pathways to better health, economic growth, a sustainable environment, and peaceful, democratic societies.
Education Finance in the Spotlight
In 2017, the U.S. Congress passed the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act, demonstrating the U.S. Government’s commitment to international education. This act led to the development of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. Government Strategy on International Basic Education (2019-2023), with a primary goal of achieving a world where partner countries’ education systems enable all individuals to acquire an education and skills.
Another goal of this strategy is to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the U.S. Government’s international education programs by coordinating efforts across its departments and agencies. USAID’s Education Policy articulates the Agency’s role in implementing this strategy and the primary purpose of USAID’s programming as “sustained, measurable improvements in learning outcomes and skills development.” The six principles that guide the Education Policy emphasize the importance of finance in education.
Integrating Education Finance in PracticeDownload the How-To Note here
Financing is Key to Self-Reliance
The principles of the USAID Education Policy provide decision makers with direction for investments that enable children and youth in partner countries to get the education and skills needed to be productive members of society. Though financing is a key piece of each principle, it is also a key to the journey to self-reliance.
Self-reliance is the ability of a country, including the government, civil society, and the private sector, to plan, finance, and implement solutions to solve its own development challenges. The Agency’s ultimate goal is to help partner countries progress beyond foreign aid and go from being recipients to partners to donors. Although the development journey of countries varies, investing in education demonstrates a commitment to becoming self-reliant and investing the country’s most important asset: its own people.