Issue Deep Dive: Germany/Education

Last updated: January 2, 2023

ODA Spending

ODA In Context

Germany was the largest DAC donor to education in 2020.

Compared to other DAC donors, Germany contributes a large share of its total ODA to education, representing 11% of total ODA in 2020 (relative to the DAC average of 10%). This places Germany seventh among DAC donors in relative terms.

Germany’s total ODA for education has increased steadily by 41% between 2016 and 2020. In 2020, 90% of Germany’s total ODA to education was reported as bilateral ODA (including earmarked funding through multilaterals), which is above the DAC average of 70%.

To get a full picture of a donor’s cross-border flows of education assistance, it is important to exclude scholarships and other costs of students from partner countries studying in donor countries. Parts of these costs are reported as ODA by most donors but are not spent on development programs abroad.

In 2020, these costs amounted to US$1.8 billion, or 51% of Germany’s overall education ODA. Excluding these costs, Germany remains the largest donor country to education in 2020 (in absolute terms). However, Germany ranks much lower in relative terms (19th, at 5% of total ODA) if in-country student costs are excluded. CSOs have criticized the high amount of student costs reported as ODA, arguing ODA-accountable costs are not linked to the development cooperation strategies set by the BMZ.

ODA Breakdown

Bilateral Spending

Higher education and vocational training received the largest share of Germany’s bilateral ODA for education in 2020 (60% and 12%). One of the BMZ’s four ‘Special Initiatives’ focuses on promoting vocational training and the creation of jobs, especially in African countries, where the BMZ sees a rising demand for apprenticeships and jobs.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Germany only channeled 10% of its education ODA through multilateral organizations in 2020, which is below the DAC average of 30%. The highest shares of this to EU institutions. However, Germany has contributed significant shares to GPE and ECW in recent years, although OECD classifies these contributions as bilateral ODA.

Germany is a founding member of GPE and has contributed US$349 million to the GPE Fund since 2005 (as of December 2022). In May 2022, the BMZ launched a new initiative, 'SHE – Support Her Education', which supports the GPE’s new GEA financing mechanism. GEA provides resources to support opportunities for girls to attend school and learn in countries where girls’ education has been a major challenge.

Germany is part of ECW’s High-Level Steering Group. As of December 2022, Germany has contributed US$376 million to EWC and is the organization’s largest donor.

The table below summarizes Germany’s more recent commitments to multilaterals working on agricultural development. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked (bilateral) funding from Germany.

Funding and Policy Outlook

Germany’s focus is on vocational education in African countries: Vocational education is a priority for Germany. The government stresses the added value of Germany’s support in this area given its long-standing expertise and the success of the German dual vocational training system, in which training is partly school-based and partly company-based. Further, vocational education has received increased political attention and funding in recent years as part of Germany’s initiatives to tackle drivers of migration, particularly in countries in the SSA and MENA regions. The government focuses on strengthening vocational training systems as part of a wider effort to foster labor markets and job creation in these regions. Promoting basic education, dual training, and further education are priorities of Germany’s development cooperation in the 2021-2025 coalition treaty (with a stronger focus on access to digital technologies).

Basic education promoted multilaterally: Besides vocational training, the BMZ also focuses on access to education, gender equality in education, and basic education. According to the BMZ’s ‘BMZ 2030 Reform’, all of the BMZ’s activities in basic education will be channeled multilaterally going forward. Key multilateral partners for the BMZ in advancing gender equality in education are ECW and GPE.

Key bodies

Kristin Laub

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