At a glance

Funding trends

Official development assistance (ODA) for education stood at an all-time high US$14.1 billion in 2018, an 8%-increase over the US$13.0 billion disbursed in 2017. In 2018, education received 7.2% of total development assistance.

Education general - figure 1

Top donors

2016 is the latest year for which full data (including donors’ multilateral contributions to the education sector) is available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). In that year, top donors were Germany (US$2.4 billion), the United States (US$1.7 billion), the United Kingdom (US$1.7 billion), France (US$1.4 billion), and Japan (US$748 million).  

These numbers include scholarships and other costs associated with having students from ODA-recipient countries studying in donor-countries (which do not constitute cross-border financial flows). In 2016, spending on students studying in donor countries were particularly high in Germany (US$1.2 billion) and France (US$848 million). When these costs are excluded from the sum of donors' total funding to education, the ranking changes slightly. In this case, the top donors are the US, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and France.

The picture changes when looking at the share of donors’ total funding going towards education: In relative terms, the top DAC donors are New Zealand (16%), Portugal (15%), Luxembourg (14%), Hungary (13%), and Slovenia (12%).

Bilateral ODA figures provide more up to date insights, although they constitute an incomplete picture of overall funding. When considering only the bilateral portion of donors’ education ODA, the top donors in 2018 were Germany (US$2.5 billion), the United States (US$1.6 billion), France (US$1.3 billion), the EU Institutions (US$1.2 million), and the United Kingdom (US$933 million).


Note that to avoid double-counting, the EU Institutions are not included as a donor in the ranking of total education ODA.

Education general - figure 2

Education general - figure 3

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.