Canada is the 8th-largest education donor; funding is likely to remain relatively flat in the near future

Canada is the eighth-largest donor country to education, spending US$262 million on official development assistance (ODA) to education in 2016. However, relative to its overall development funding portfolio, Canada only ranks 17th among the 29 donor countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), with 7% of Canada’s total ODA allocated to education in 2016. This is slightly below the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 8%.

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

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

In the past, much of Canada’s global education efforts have been linked to the work of Global Affairs Canada (GAC) on addressing maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH). GAC is the government department responsible for foreign affairs, trade, and development policy. Since 2015, the focus of Canadian global education works has shifted towards access to inclusive quality education and education services within humanitarian crises. Equitable access to education, especially for girls, is highlighted as a cross-cutting issue in GAC’s Report on Plans and Priorities 2015-2016, as well as in its Departmental Plan 2017-18. The Departmental Plan 2017-2018 also pledges increased support for providing access to education in emergencies (see details below). GAC’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) lists five ‘action areas’ to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. One of these, 'Human Dignity', covers education (as well as health and nutrition, and humanitarian action), and frames education as pivotal for Canada’s feminist development policy.

Canadian ODA to education significantly decreased between 2010, when it stood at US$438 million, and 2014, when it was US$246 million. This is mainly because Canada has placed a stronger focus on MNCH financing, leading to reductions in funding to other areas, including education. However, compared to 2014 Canada’s education ODA grew in 2016 again by 7% to US$262 million, driven by increased funding to primary education, strengthening education policy and administration of partner countries, and boosting facilities and training. Canada’s International Assistance Envelope (IAE) for FY2018/19, the main budget envelope for development assistance, includes increased funding, which could mean increased funding for education due to the FIAP’s focus on education, especially in emergency settings. As well, existing funds could be reallocated towards education programs. 

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

Canada provides the vast majority of its education ODA as bilateral funding: US$207 million in 2016, or 79% of Canada’s education ODA. Bilateral education ODA declined to US$207 million in 2016. Most of this went to general education, which accounted for 41% (US$84 million) of bilateral education ODA – primarily for strengthening education policy and administration, education facilities, and teacher training in partner countries. Basic education was the second-largest sector for Canada’s bilateral ODA to education in 2016 (35%, or US$73 million). This reflects Canada’s focus on girls’ education and equitable access, which is likely to increase further as part of Canada’s FIAP.

Canada directs its bilateral education ODA to the poorest countries at a significantly higher rate than other OECD donors. Between 2014 and 2016, 57% of Canada’s bilateral education ODA went to low-income countries (LICs), well above the 37% share allocated to LICs by other donor countries on average. Geographically, funding focuses on sub-Saharan Africa: Canada allocated almost half (46%) of its bilateral education ODA to this region between 2014 and 2016 (OECD average: 29%), in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. South and Central Asia is the second-largest regional recipient, receiving 22% of Canadian bilateral education ODA. Together these two regions represent more than two-thirds (68%) of Canada’s bilateral ODA to education. Four out of the top five individual recipient countries are located in one of these two regions: Senegal (US$27 million), Bangladesh (US$18 million), Afghanistan (US$18 million), and Mali (US$12 million). Jordan comes fourth, with US$14 million.

Canada mainly uses two channels for delivering its education funding: earmarked funding for programs implemented by multilateral organizations (32%, reported as bilateral ODA) and civil society organizations (31%). Together, they deliver almost two-thirds of Canada’s funding for global education.

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

Canada also provides support to education in the form of core contributions to multilateral organizations. In 2016 Canada spent US$55 million, or 21%, of its total education ODA as core contributions to multilateral organizations. The vast majority (60%) went to the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). In addition, Canada is the 10th-largest donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), having contributed US$169 million (as of December 2017) since 2007. For the 2018-2020 funding period, Canada committed CAD180 million (US$147 million) to GPE.

Canada has stepped up its support for multilateral initiatives on education in humanitarian crises, in line with its policy orientation. In 2016, Canada committed US$15 million over two years to the initiative ‘Education Cannot Wait’ (ECW), a special fund which aims to improve access to education services in humanitarian emergencies and crises. However, education accounts for a small proportion of Canada’s overall humanitarian assistance, with US$3 million, or 0.5%, allocated to the education sector in 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The global share of humanitarian assistance spent on education was 2.7% in 2016, which in turn is only half of the minimum 4% target established by the UN ‘Global Education First Initiative’ (GEFI). Canada’s share is likely to increase due to its ECW commitment and other pledges to education in the humanitarian context, for example through support to the UNICEF-led ‘No Lost Generation Initiative’ in support of children in Syria.     

GAC’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie leads on policy development, with support from the Deputy Minister of International Development

With guidance from the Prime Minister’s Office, GAC’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Marie-Claude Bibeau, has the overall lead on development policy, including for education. The Deputy Minister of International Development, Diane Jacovella, manages GAC’s development policy units and budget allocation. Within GAC, there are several relevant offices for education development policy. The directorate for Global Issues and Development, led by an Assistant Deputy Minister, is key to education policy and funding, and has several offices relevant for education. Two important ones are:

  • The Social Development division, which provides strategic advice on education policy and other issues related to social development, including through the Education, Child Protection and Gender Equality unit.
  • The International Humanitarian Assistance division, which is involved in efforts at the nexus between humanitarian assistance and education. In addition, the Strategic Policy branch within GAC provides cross-agency strategic policy advice on development issues related to education. The four geographic branches (Americas; Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle-East and Maghreb; sub-Saharan Africa) manage country programs and develop strategic plans with support for particular issues from the Global Issues and Development Branch.
Further readings