Spain does not prioritize education, which has declined dramatically since 2008

Spain is the 17th-largest government donor to education, spending US$90 million on education ODA in 2015, according to OECD data. Education is not a top priority of its development portfolio: in 2015, Spain allocated 2% of its total ODA to education, ranking last among 29 OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor countries. This is significantly below the average of 8% spent by DAC donor countries on education.

Spain’s education ODA has declined dramatically since 2008, when it ranked seventh in the OECD at US$469 million. Overall, Spain’s education ODA decreased by 81% between 2008 and 2015. The decline in education ODA is explained by the general retrenchment of Spanish ODA as part of the government’s austerity measures over the past years. In spite of these funding decreases, education is a stated priority of Spain’s development policy, as outlined in Spain’s Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2013-2016. Education is included as a key element of one of 8 priorities for Spanish development policy: “foster[ing] systems of social cohesion, focusing on basic social services”. Education ODA might increase again as Spanish ODA as a whole recovers (for more details, see Question 1 of Donor Tracker’s Spain profile: How much ODA does Spain provide?), but as of yet there have been no concrete measures to achieve this.  

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

Spain provided a relatively small portion of its education ODA as bilateral funding in 2015: 42%, or US$38 million. By contrast, on average DAC donors spent 73% of their education ODA bilaterally in 2015. This is reflective of Spain’s broader development portfolio, with mandatory contributions to multilateral organizations – particularly to the European Union – assuming a large role as bilateral ODA has been cut. Most of Spain’s bilateral funding for education went to general education, which accounted for 51% in 2015 (see figure below). Most of this (70%) was used to fund education facilities, and for the training and strengthening of education policy and administrative management (18%). With its emphasis on strengthening education policy, administration, as well as other aspects of general education, basic education, and vocational training, Spain’s stated education priorities largely align with its funding, which is mainly directed toward general education, vocational training, and basic education. Spain’s development agency (AECID) is in charge of implementing its bilateral programs and defines four priorities for its education support in its Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2013-2016:

  • “Contributing to improve the quality of education” through strategies such as improving evaluation, measurement and knowledge generation mechanisms, school management, inclusive curricula, and teacher training
  • “Contribute to the sustainability of results” through institutional strengthening, planning of educational policies, improving financial and administrative management, and supporting educational system reforms
  • Enabling “inclusive and sustainable growth” through special attention to literacy and vocational training programs, with the goal of integrating youth and adults into the labor market “for decent employment”.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

Spain directs less of its bilateral education ODA to low-income countries (LICs) than other OECD donors: 15% on average between 2013 and 2015, half the DAC average of 30%. The largest share of Spain’s bilateral education ODA goes to middle-income countries (MICs) (67% on average between 2013 and 2015), which aligns with Spain’s overall approach to development recipients (for more details, see Question 6 of Donor Tracker’s Spain profile: How is Spain’s ODA spent?) Geographically, key recipients of Spain’s bilateral education ODA are Latin America (46% on average between 2013 and 2015). Spain mostly channels its bilateral education ODA through the public sector (45% in 2015), which mostly comprises of direct bilateral support to partner governments and programs implemented by AECID. Civil society organizations are another key channel (45% of bilateral education ODA).

Spain contributed US$52 million in 2015 in multilateral education ODA (or 58% of its overall education ODA), almost all of it going to EU institutions (US$49 million). While overall a small contributor to multilateral organizations working on education, Spain is still the sixth largest donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Spain has contributed US$353 million to the GPE since its founding in 2002 (as of March 2017. However, it has not contributed funding since 2011, and has not pledged funding for the 2015-2018 replenishment period. However, the government has reiterated its commitment to participating in GPE’s governing board and to resuming funding as soon as ODA increases more broadly. AECID also declared in a 2016 document of recommendations for the education sector that GPE is one of the preferred instruments for the sector, and that funding should be prioritized and should resume. 

Spain is not a major donor to education in humanitarian emergencies. None of Spain’s US$52 million in humanitarian aid went toward education in 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA; global average: 2%).

MAEC defines strategic orientations; AECID implements policy

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEC), the most relevant departments covering education issues are the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPDS) and its education division. The DGPDS takes the leading role in policy formulation, planning, and evaluation. With regard to implementation, AECID covers education-related programs through its Directorate for Multilateral and Sectoral Cooperation and its regional departments (i.e., the Directorates for Africa and for Latin America), which manage bilateral programs on the ground. Other relevant stakeholders include universities and some development NGOs in the education sector, including Entreculturas, Fundación Carolina, and UNICEF Spain. DGPDS, AECID, and NGOs together aim to coordinate support for education programs in the Spanish Cooperation Sectorial Board on Education (Mesa Sectorial de Cooperación en Educación).