Unesco warns against education budget cuts

Thursday, September 10th, 2020 00:00 | By
Audrey Azoulay, Unesco director-general.

Kenya and other middle-income countries must resist pressure to cut education budgets because of the difficult environment during the Covid-19 pandemic, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) report now warns.

According to the report, the total aid to education is likely to decline by 12 per cent in 2022 as a result of economic consequences of Covid-19.

“While education is clearly a victim of the pandemic, it is also the solution to the longer-term recovery.

I call on all actors to spare no effort in prioritising investment in education as a global public good,’’ observes Audrey Azoulay, Unesco director-general. 

Reduced earnings by governments is likely to lead to budget cuts to education, which Unesco warns would have dire results for children and college students.

New research from Unesco’s Global Education Monitoring  Report shows that school closures due to the virus are projected to increase the annual funding gap for education in poorer countries to as much as $200 billion (Sh2.06 trillion) per year.

The report adds that the pandemic has further aggravated education financing gaps.

Minimise disruptions

Under plausible school closure and Gross Domestic Product  growth scenarios, Covid -19 adds up to one-third to the annual funding gap of $148 billion.

To minimise disruptions in education, the global body advises that investment for schools and learners must be maintained if not increased.

Governments must also direct a significant part of their education budget to the most marginalised regions and schools.

At the same time, international donors must protect their share of international development aid towards global education, and use equitable funding to ensure that support is directed towards countries and regions with chronic inequalities.

 Currently, only 47 per cent of aid to basic and secondary education goes to low and lower middle-income countries, where it’s needed the most, according to the report.

School closures have led to loss of learning for millions of students. 

Distance teaching solutions are simply not an option for at least 580 million students in low and middle-income countries according to a Unesco-Unicef-World Bank survey.

This health crisis has exacerbated the effect of intersecting inequalities on education opportunities.

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