Home >Politics >Policy >India sees largest cuts in global aid for basic education: Unesco

New Delhi: India saw the largest cuts in aid to basic education to any country in the world from donor nations and organizations party due to nagging economic woes across the globe, Unesco said in a new report.

International aid to the elementary or basic sector fell by $278 million between 2010-2012, even though India is among the top five countries in the world in the number of children still out of school, the Paris-based United Nations cultural agency said.

“Despite a huge progress in getting its children into school since 2000, India still sits in the top five countries for the largest number of out of school children in the world," Unesco said. “Reducing support now is only going to make the remaining challenge of helping these children harder."

India was one of the top 10 countries to receive international aid on basic education in 2012. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Palestine were the top five countries in 2012 for aid disbursements to basic education.

All the top five donors to India—the UK, European Union (EU), World Bank, Germany, and the UN Children’s Fund (Unicef)—slashed their aid flow to the country, Unesco said. For example, EU gave only $1 million in 2012 as against $29 million in 2010. Even the UK, which is the biggest national donor to India, cut aid from $88 million in 2010 to $82 million in 2012.

“The decline in aid to education (10%) is far larger than the overall decline in aid to all of development (1%), indicating that an economic recovery across the globe would not necessarily translate into more funds for education," Unesco said in its the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. “It appears that education is slipping down the global agenda."

The report assumes significance because the UN’s target of education for all ends in 2015.

Globally 57 million children and 69 million adolescents are still out of school. India still has 2.9 million children out of schools despite its right to education law coming into force on 1 April 2010. The law guarantees education to all children in the 6-14 age group.

“When so many girls and boys are still out of school and not learning, the continuing drop in funds for education is cause for serious concern," said Irina Bokova, director-general of Unesco.

To be sure, India’s human resource development ministry says the country has a robust domestic funding mechanism for elementary education and is likely to reach education to all by 2015. The access is now nearly 98% and the focus of the government is on improving the quality of education. “Access is almost there and now we have to think of quality," a ministry official said, requesting anonymity. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and right to education model has worked well for the sector in the last decade, he said.

More than access, quality of education should be the focus of India, said Lalatendu Mahal, a school teacher in Hyderabad.

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