Issue Deep Dive

US / Education

Last updated: April 28, 2023

ODA Spending

How much ODA does the US allocate to education?

The US was the third-largest DAC donor to education in 2021.

The US’ spending on education represented around 3% of its total ODA in 2021, relative to the DAC average of 9%. This places the US last among DAC donors in relative terms.

How is US educational ODA changing?

The approved FY2023 SFOPS bill allocates US$1.3 billion for basic and higher education, a 5% increase from the FY2022 enacted amount of US$1.2 billion. The figure for FY2022 included US$125 million for GPE, while, in FY2023, the US pledged US$43 million to ECW. The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program, which supports education in low-income, food-deficit countries, is funded at US$243 million in FY2023, a US$6 million increase over FY2022.

How does the US allocate educational ODA?

Bilateral Spending

In 2021, 94%, or US$1.3 billion, of US education ODA was channeled bilaterally or as earmarked funding through multilaterals. The US kept its bilateral funding to education largely consistent from 2020.

Most of the 2021 funding was allocated to programs for ‘basic education’ (79% of bilateral education ODA, or US$1 billion, down from US$1.1 billion in 2020), making the US the largest donor to this area. Within basic education, the US prioritizes ‘primary education’ (US$728 million, or 57% of bilateral education ODA in 2021), in line with USAID’s new strategy for the sub-sector. ‘School feeding’ has become a routine funding focus within basic education, receiving 15% of bilateral education ODA (US$199 million) in 2021. The US also spent US$121 million (9% of bilateral education ODA) on ‘higher education’. Of the US$1.3 billion in bilateral ODA to education, the US spent US$209 million as earmarked funding through multilaterals.

Multilateral Spending and Commitments

Only 6% (US$78 million) of overall education ODA was disbursed as core contributions to multilaterals. Of this, most of the funding went primarily to the World Bank’s IDA (5% of total education ODA). Additionally, the US is a consistent supporter of the GPE, having contributed US$676 million between 2009 and 2022. At the Global Education Summit in July 2021, which was a call from GPE to mobilize US$5 billion in funding toward children’s education in the world’s lowest-income countries, the US made a three-year pledge of US$305 million , accounting for 8% of total pledges. The US is also a founding donor to ECW, an international initiative launched in 2016 that aims to improve access to education services in humanitarian emergencies and crises. The US has committed a total of US$145 million to the fund since its founding in 2016.

The table below summarizes the US’ more recent commitments to multilaterals working in global education. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked funding through multilaterals from the US.

Funding and Policy Outlook

What is the current government's outlook on educational ODA?

New USAID strategy on basic education for 2019-2023 focuses on improving learning outcomes and expanding access to basic education for all: The new strategy recognizes the potential for investments in international education to pave the way for greater economic growth, improved health outcomes, sustained democratic governance, and more peaceful and resilient societies. As part of the new education policy, USAID has announced its plans to expand funding to private and religious schools in LICs, citing the need to provide access to education for children who are unable to attend public schools.

The US has prioritized girls’ access to education: Under the current administration, the focus is on breaking down gender-related barriers to education so that girls, women, and gender and sexual minorities have equal access to quality and inclusive education. There is a particular emphasis on also reversing the widening gap in equitable education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Goals for breaking down these barriers are set by USAID endorsement of the G7’s Declaration on Girls’ Education and the SDG 4, which sets benchmarks for improved girls’ education in LICs and LMICs.

Key bodies

Related Publications

September 2023 Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Roundup 

Japan's revised Development Cooperation Charter: Adapting to contemporary challenges

Funding critical skills: How are donors supporting Foundational Literacy and Numeracy?

Looking for a cross donor perspective?

Learn more about SEEK's work on education

Adam Jennison

Adam Jennison

Adam Jennison

Adam Jennison

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