A new policy paper by Unesco’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report estimates that global aid is likely to decline by up to $2 billion (about K1.5 trillion) from 2018 to 2022 as a result of recession caused by coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, entailing a 12 percent drop in international support for education.
Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay has since asked countries to prioritise education in their need for additional funding to respond to the pandemic.
According to a statement issued by GEM on Friday, without new measures, aid to education would only reach 2018 levels—its highest ever levels—in 2024, posing a serious threat to the recovery of education from the Covid-19 disruption.
Said Azoulay in the statement: “Just as aid to education seemed to have recovered its lost momentum, the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to take us back several years.
“Countries will need additional funding to respond to the pandemic and education must be prioritised both in terms of aid and domestic allocations to avoid a setback to our global education goal, SDG 4.”
Aid to education in 2018 reached a record $15.6 billion, an increase of nine percent from the previous year, according to GEM.
Last month, the Ministry of Education announced that Malawi had received K7.5 billion from Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to support the Covid-19 education response for the next two years.
The grant is expected to assist seven million school-age children whose education was disrupted due to coronavirus after the closure of schools in March 2020, when the country declared Covid-19 a National Disaster and the then president Peter Mutharika ordered the closure of schools to prevent spread of the pandemic.
Since then, the Ministry of Education and development partners such as Unicef have been running radio education programmes on public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, to enable children to keep learning while at home.
In assessing the impact of Covid-19, the GEM Report estimates that the pandemic is likely to have a more damaging impact than the financial crisis of 2007/08 as the recession affecting the top 10 bilateral donors for education is expected to be more than twice as severe.
Manos Antoninis, the GEM Report director says: “Previous financial crises have impacted the allocation of aid for several years after the crises were over. We should, therefore, not underestimate the ricochet effect this pandemic could have on social services for years to come.”
The paper assesses the impact of the GPE, a fundraising platform for the education sector, showing that there is currently a lag of about three years between grant approval and disbursement.
The amount it disbursed in 2019 fell back to 2010 levels. In 2018, GPE aid made up 6.7 percent of total aid to basic education in low- and lower-middle-income countries, down from a high of 11.4 percent in 2014.