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Centre of African Studies: Research


Paper Details

Author: Roy Car-Hill and Kenneth King

Title: International Aid to Basic Education: Flows, Policies, Modalities

Year: 1992

The purpose of the present document is to provide an up-to-date picture of the patterns and policies of aid from donor agencies to the basic education sector in developing countries. The data for the study is drawn from two questionnaire surveys distributed to DAC Members and other agencies. It is clear that agencies had difficulty in accounting for their aid to the education sector: Partly because the coverage of agencies varied and partly because of variations in the categories used to describe basic education. There are wide variations among agencies both in the proportions of overall aid that they give to the education sector and even wider variations in the proportions of education aid which are given to basic education. The relatively high proportions being spent on students and trainees offshore were striking; as were the substantial amounts reported as being channelled via NGOs. An attempt was made to discern trends during the second half of the 1980s. There does appear, recently, to have been an upward shift in the amount of DAC aid to the education sector although this should be seen against the background of an overall decline from 1979 to 1989. Equally, there are signs of an upward shift in the amounts to basic education. In respect of policies and strategies, it is clear that Jomtien did mark a turning point; there could be debate on whether it was a cause of a consequence of changes in the policy climate, Jomtien had certainly added legitimacy to the widespread mood of policy change. There is new or increased focusing on basic education, often within a new frame for education aid in general. There are also new modalities for negotiating educational aid which, reflecting the pressures for accountability, are more transparent. However, this new policy dialogue is often far from being between equals, as the economic environment in the recipient country leaves little room for manoeuvre. Indeed the fiscal crisis has led several donors to considers ways of supporting teachers' salaries. There are other important changes: a new emphasis on local rather than high cost overseas training; a continued policy of support to NGOs, although the issues of accountability are as yet unresolved; and a widespread recognition that these new approaches - and especially the emphasis on programme rather than project aid - cannot be delivered through short term funding. Finally, there is a genuine move towards great coordination. A significant strand, which also reflects the pressures for accountability in DAC countries, is the interest in monitoring progress towards the Jomtien objectives. It is therefore seen as essential to review and revise reporting systems so that a proper account can be given of aid to the basic education sector.

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