Canada - Education
At a glance
Canada’s funding to education focuses on education in humanitarian crises
Education is a central tenet of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), falling under its action area on ‘human dignity’ (with health and nutrition and humanitarian action). During the election campaign in 2019, the Liberal Party (which won a minority mandate) campaigned on a promise to spend no less than 10% of the country’s development budget on education. It emphasized education for displaced and refugee children as a key priority.
Canada spent US$280 million on official development assistance (ODA) to education in 2016, (the latest year for which multilateral and bilateral OECD data is available). This represented 7% of the country’s overall ODA in that year. (Although more recent OECD data is not available, data from the Canadian International Development platform shows a similar trend in FY2018/19 when education accounted for 8% of disbursements from Global Affairs Canada). Of Canada’s funding to education in 2016, 79% was channeled bilaterally (including bilateral funds and earmarked funding to multilaterals), and 21% was directed through multilateral channels.
Bilateral education ODA focuses on general education and basic education for poorest countries
Since 2016, bilateral ODA to education has remained more or less steady, falling from US$221 million in 2016 to US$210 million in 2017, before rebounding to reach US$229 million in 2018. Of this funding, 17% was spent on teacher training, 15% on primary education, 15% on vocational training, and 14% on education policy and administrative management.
Canada supports multilateral initiatives for education including the Global Partnership for Education (GPE); Canada pledged US$147 million to GPE for 2018-2020. Canada has also stepped up its support for multilateral initiatives on education in humanitarian crises, in line with its policy orientation. In December 2018, Canada pledged CAD50 million (US$39 million) over three years to Education Cannot Wait (ECW), an initiative hosted by UNICEF. This funding is part of the CAD400 million (US$309 million) commitment to improve women and girls’ education in fragile and conflict-affected states announced at the 2018 G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec. In January 2020 the government announced funding for seven gender-focused projects in Sudan and Mozambique in the aftermath of cyclones Idai and Kenneth, one of which was specifically focused on education: The government pledged CAD15 million (US$12 million) over five years for an education-related project undertaken in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP). Canada’s involvement in education in crises is likely to increase due to its ECW commitment and other pledges to gender-responsive education in humanitarian contexts.
GAC’s Minister of International Development leads on policy development, with support from the Deputy Minister of International Development
With guidance from the Prime Minister’s Office, Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) Minister of International Development takes the overall lead on development policy, including for education. The Deputy Minister of International Development 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 that work on education. Two important divisions 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 Directorate 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 the Maghreb; and sub-Saharan Africa) manage country programs and develop strategic plans with support for issues from the Global Issues and Development Branch.