EU - Education
At a glance
ODA to education peaked in 2020 and now is a key priority of the International Partnerships Commissioner
The European Union Institutions (EUI; which indicates financing from both the European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB)) spent US$1.5 billion of their ODA on education in 2020, making the EUI the third-largest donors to education. This represents 6% of EUI’s total ODA (below the DAC average: 10%).
Education ODA provided by the EUI rose between 2016-2017 due to increased funding provided to tackle “root causes of migration”. Funding peaked in 2017 and picked up again in 2020.
In 2020, EUI channeled the majority (96%) of their education ODA bilaterally. This bilateral funding focused mainly on education policy and administrative management (43%), primary education (14%), higher education (13%), and vocational training (13%). This bilateral funding includes both bilateral ODA (US$1.1 billion, or 74% of education ODA in 2020) and funding earmarked for specific purposes and channeled through multilaterals (US$338 million, or 22% in 2020). Multilaterals supported by the EUI include the Global Partnership for Education (with €700 million (US$798million) spent between 2021-2027), Education Cannot Wait (nearly €53 million (US$60 million) contributed to the fund since its inception in 2016.) and the ‘International Finance Facility for Education’ (€6.5 million (US$7 million committed in 2019).
In addition to bilateral funding, 4% of the EUI’s education ODA (US$59 million) was channeled as core contributions to multilateral institutions. United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) received all of this funding.
The EUI have commited to prioritizing education under development assistance and regards education as essential for achieving the SDGs, reducing social inequalities, and advancing gender equality. Education is a top priority for Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen. She called for 10% of the EU’s ODA to be for education, equivalent to half of the EU’s target for 20% of the EU’s ODA to be committed towards human development. In 2008, the EU called upon its Member States to devote 10% of their ODA to education by 2024 and 15% by 2023.
The EU’s priorities for education are outlined in the European Consensus on Development. Education is included in the ‘People – human development and dignity’ framework for action and is listed as a central element for tackling poverty and inequalities.
The EU’s priorities within education include early childhood and primary education with special attention given to the educational development of girls and women. Education is seen as a tool to promote youth employment, mitigate migration, and support post-conflict stabilization. In recent years, the EU has increased its focus on education in emergencies and fragile contexts. The share of humanitarian funding dedicated to education increased from less than 1% in 2015 to 10% in 2019, according to information from the European Commission. In November 2021, the Commission said the EU will continue to target 10% of its annual humanitarian budget to child protection and education in emergencies, in particular to access to education for girls in humanitarian contexts.
DG INTPA’s Directorate G ‘Human Development, Migration, Governance and Peace’ leads on education ODA policy
The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA; formerly the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, or DG DEVCO) leads on developing the EU’s policies and thematic programs around education. Within DG INTPA, education is covered in Directorate G, ‘Human Development, Migration, Governance and Peace’, and at the technical level in Unit G.3, ‘Youth, Education and Culture’. The Directorate-General European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) oversees the humanitarian budget directed to education. Directorate A, ‘Emergency Management and rescEU’, covers education in emergencies.