Netherlands - Education
At a glance
Formerly a major focus area, emphasis on education has decreased since 2018
In 2020 the Netherlands spent just 3% of its total ODA on education, putting it in 29th place among donors within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in terms of spending on education relative to overall official development assistance (ODA; DAC average: 10%). In absolute terms, the Netherlands is the 15th-largest donor country to education, spending US$185 million in 2020. Dutch funding to education has fluctuated considerably over the past five years, peaking at US$297 million in 2018 and decreasing to US$185 million in 2020, in line with larger cuts to total ODA.
Bilateral funding, including earmarked funding through multilaterals, accounted for 55% (US$101 million) of the Netherlands’ ODA for education in 2020. The largest share of this was directed toward ‘primary education’ (46%, or US$46 million). The second-largest share went to ‘higher education’ (39%, or US$40 million). 8% (US$8 million) was allocated to ‘vocational training.’
Earmarked funding through multilaterals (reported to the OECD as bilateral funding) accounted for 27% (US$50 million) of the Netherlands’ ODA to education in 2020. The Netherlands is a strong supporter of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). It pledged US$129 million to GPE for 2018-2022. On International Women’s Day in March 2021, former Dutch Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag, an education advocate, announced that the Netherlands allocated an additional €50 million (US$57 million) for GPE to ensure that more children, particularly girls, have access to education. In September 2020, Kaag announced at the Education Cannot Wait (ECW) High-Level Steering Group meeting that the Netherlands would contribute €6 million (US$7 million) in support of ECW’s ‘COVID-19 education in emergency response’ programs. The Netherlands’ core multilateral contributions for education made up 45% (US$84 million) of total education funding in 2020.
Education receives ample support in Dutch Parliament. According to the 2020 policy document: ‘Doing What the Netherlands is Good At’ (BHOS), the Netherlands is gradually moving out of ‘basic education.’ Investment in higher education, vocational training, and employment in the ‘Horn of Africa’ and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is emphasized as a mechanism to prevent migration.
The MFA’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation drives global development policy; no specific department focuses on education
The responsibility for development cooperation lies with the Netherlands ’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Within the MFA, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for designing and coordinating the implementation of development policy. As education is not a priority, there is no specific department within the MFA that focuses on education.