Italy’s funding for global education is increasing
Italy spent US$234 million on global education in 2016 (the latest for which complete data is available), according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), making it the 10th‑largest donor country to education. Education accounted for 4% of Italy’s total official development assistance (ODA) in 2016, well below the average of 8% spent by members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
Although Italy spends a low share of its development funding on the sector, Education is articulated as a priority in Italy’s overall strategic document for development policy. The triannual Programming Guidelines for Italian Development Cooperation 2017-2019 list education as a key priority. The primary focus is on early schooling and childhood development, as well as technical vocational education and training (TVET). A central objective of education is the support of democratization and peace-building processes. Additionally, education was a focus of Italy’s G7 presidency in 2017; it was highlighted as a key area for promoting social sustainability and reducing inequalities. The G7 Accountability Working Group had education as the theme of its progress report in October 2017. It was titled, ’The G7 Taormina Progress Report: Investing in Education for Mutual Prosperity, Peace and Development’.
Between 2012 and 2016, Italy’s ODA to education increased significantly. Spending grew by 64% over the period, from US$146 million in 2012 to US$238 million in 2016.
Italy’s multilateral education ODA is mainly channeled through EU institutions
Italy provides over half of its ODA to education through multilateral organizations (57%, US$134 million in 2016). Most of this funding is made up of core contributions to the EU (US$99 million) and of core contributions to the World Bank’s International Development Association (US$21 million).
In addition, Italy supports the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), providing US$52 million to GPE since it became a donor in 2005 (as of April 2019). This makes it the 16th-largest donor to GPE. In February 2018, Italy pledged €12 million (US$16 million) for the 2018 to 2020 pledging period. The Programming Guidelines specifically mention Italy’s support for GPE, identifying it as the principle financing mechanism for activities to attain the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4).
Italy’s bilateral support for education has a regional focus on Africa
Italy’s bilateral support for education was US$100 million in 2017, remaining stable since 2015. Looking forward, ODA to education is expected to continue to grow in line with an increasing ODA budget. Italy spend bilateral education ODA in 2017 mostly in the area of general education (41%), followed by basic education (25%) and post secondary education (24%). The largest share of bilateral education ODA (34%) in 2017 was allocated to ‘education facilities and training’ in partner countries. A significant share of contributions also went to funding for advanced technical and managerial training (18%). US$13 million (13% of bilateral ODA) was spent in 2017 on ‘basic life skills for youth and adults’. Primary education (12%) and vocation training (8%) receive smaller shares of funding.
Italy’s bilateral support for education has a regional focus on Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa received 39% of all funding between 2014 and 2016 (US$34 million per year on average), making it by far the largest recipient region. Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Asia follow, each receiving 13% of bilateral funding for education. The largest contribution of bilateral education ODA in 2017 went to Ethiopia for general primary education strengthening (US$ 3 million).
DGCS defines education priorities; AICS leads implementation
The Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) is in charge of defining the strategic direction of Italy’s education policy. The DGCS’s office for programming of development cooperation, its geographic offices, and the unit for multilateral cooperation are relevant actors for defining Italy’s bilateral and multilateral education policy. The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS), is in charge of program implementation. AICS’s office for ’Human Development’ is responsible for education projects.