Last in line, last in school 2009: Donor trends in meeting education needs in countries affected by conflict and emergencies

from Save the Children
Published on 28 May 2009 View Original
Executive summary

This third annual Last in Line, Last in School report examines recent trends in donor support for education for children living in conflict-affected fragile states (CAFS) and those caught up in emergencies. Its broad conclusion is that, although donors have increased their focus on meeting the education needs of children in these countries and situations, there is still a long way to go. If trends continue, CAFS will not receive the levels of basic education aid needed to achieve the education Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education (UPE) until 2034, well beyond the 2015 deadline.

Education is recognised as one of the most vital investments a government can make. As well as being every child's right, it has a crucial role to play in safeguarding children, empowering women, promoting democracy and protecting the environment. It is essential for the recovery and development of CAFS.

Regardless of this critical role, on average between 2005 and 2007, CAFS received just over a quarter of basic education aid, despite being home to more than half - 40 million - of the world's 75 million out-of-school children. Basic education aid commitments to CAFS increased marginally from $0.9 billion in 2005 to $1.2bn in 2007 - well below the estimated $5.2bn required annually to achieve UPE in these countries. It is staggering that such a small proportion of global education aid continues to be directed to those countries most at risk of failing to achieve the goal.

Furthermore, of total aid allocated to CAFS, on average just 5% went to education, compared to 10% in other low-income countries (LICs). This suggests that education is not seen by donors as a priority for investment in CAFS. While the demand for investment in governance and infrastructure is inevitably higher in CAFS, and this is critical for enabling wider education reforms to reach remote schools, it is clear that not enough attention is being paid to addressing the immediate educational needs of conflict-affected populations, where one in three primary-aged children is out of school.

Education is now more widely recognised as a component of humanitarian aid. Financing of education in emergencies rose from $147 million in 2007 to $235m in 2008. However, less than half - 48% - of requests for education funding in humanitarian crises in the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP), through which the majority of humanitarian aid is allocated, were met in 2008.

Too few donors have committed themselves at a policy and budgetary level to providing education in situations where there is a lack of will and/or capacity to respond to education needs, or as a component of humanitarian response. Only half of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors have policy commitments to providing education in countries affected by conflict and fragility, and only five have included education in their emergency strategies.

A far greater commitment to meeting the educational needs of children in CAFS is needed if UPE is to be achieved by 2015. This will require:

- greater recognition of the important role education can play in establishing strong state structures in CAFS

- a coordinated effort by all donors to deliver aid to education in these countries

- a commitment to initiate and restore education services as part of humanitarian response

- support for aid mechanisms that are appropriate to the complex development environments of CAFS.

Finally, it will require an abrupt increase in the amount of education aid directed to CAFS and those countries affected by emergencies. This aid needs to address short-term education needs, and be sustained over the long term, for rebuilding institutions and systems. Reaffirming commitment to the MDGs and maintaining aid flows that are consistent with them is vital in the current climate of global financial instability, especially in those CAFS less able to withstand economic shocks.

The future of children living in CAFS and emergencies must not be jeopardised by the failure of the international community to keep its promise to provide primary education for every child, no matter where they live. Save the Children, therefore, calls on all donors to act now to:

1. Increase long-term predictable aid for education in CAFS

This requires donors to:

- ensure funding is equitable, based on need, with at least 50% of new basic education aid commitments going to CAFS

- increase basic education aid to meet the $9bn annual external financing requirement for achieving good quality UPE

- prioritise education in CAFS, ensuring that at least 10% of ODA in CAFS is allocated to education

- meet the Education for All-Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) financing gaps and ensure adequate funding of the FTI's Education Transition Fund.

2. Ensure that education needs in emergency situations are met

This requires donors to:

- establish policies on education in emergencies that ensure education is an integral part of humanitarian response

- allocate a minimum of 4.2% of humanitarian aid to education to meet education funding requirements in emergency situations

- support coordination for education in humanitarian response through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Education Cluster.