Spain - Education
At a glance
Education ODA peaked in 2016, following several years of decline
Spain spent US$165 million on ODA to education in 2016 (the latest year for which mulitlateral and bilateral data is available), making it the 15th-largest donor to education in absolute terms according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). This represents 3% of Spain’s total ODA (well below the DAC average of 8%). Spain’s education funding increased by 69% between 2015 and 2016, following several years of decline. The increase was due to Spain’s resumed contributions to the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) which is directed to the education sector, as well as increased European Union (EU)-mandated contributions to education.
In 2016 Spain provided the majority of its education ODA as multilateral funding: 67%, or US$111 million. The EU Institutions and the World Banks’s International Development Association (IDA) were key recipients, receiving 63% and 28% respectively of Spain’s multilateral education ODA in that year. Historically, Spain has been been a strong supporter of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), having contributed US$353 million to GPE since its founding in 2002. Despite a five-year gap in contributions to the GPE, it remains the ninth-largest donor. In February of 2018, Spain pledged US$2 million to the GPE for its 2018-2020 replenishment period (according to official US$ conversions by GPE). In fact, the Spanish development agency (AECID) declared in a 2016 document of recommendations for the education sector that GPE is one of the preferred instruments for this sector.
Spain provided a relatively small portion of its education ODA as bilateral funding in 2016 (32% or US$53 million). In contrast, DAC donors on average spent 60% of their education ODA bilaterally in 2016. This is reflective of Spain’s broader development portfolio, wherein mandatory contributions to multilateral organizations – particularly to the EU – have assumed a large role as bilateral ODA has been cut. The largest cuts to bilateral funding occurred between 2008 and 2015. Between 2016 and 2018, bilateral funding to education remained relatively stable: Bilateral funding (including earmarked funding to multilaterals) stood at US$56 million in 2018. Of this bilateral funding for education, almost half was channeled to ‘general education ’ (44%), which includes investments in system strengthening. The next-largest areas receiving funding were post-secondary education (21%), basic education (17%), and vocational training (15%).
Despite current funding decreases, education ODA might increase again as Spanish ODA as a whole recovers; however, as of yet, there have been no concrete measures undertaken to achieve this. Nonetheless, education remains one of seven priorities of Spain’s development policy, as outlined in Spain’s ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ (Master Plan). Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on quality education is one of the top strategic priorities under the current Master Plan. Spain’s development agency (AECID), which oversees the implementation of its bilateral programs, defines four priorities for its education support in its Master Plan, which include: 1) fostering free, inclusive, and high-quality education for all children, 2) supporting professional training and technical competences for the most vulnerable populations, and 3) raising awareness and education on sustainable development and solidarity aspects.
In addition to providing funding for education, Spain has increasingly begun prioritizing and promoting education within its national and international policies. In 2019, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s ‘Goalkeepers conference’, Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez underlined health and education as two of the most valuable sectors of development for accelerating progress on the Agenda 2030. In 2020, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Spain prioritized education support as a key component of the socio-economic recovery cooperation extended to partner countries affected by the COVID19 crisis.
MAEUEC defines strategic orientations; AECID implements policy
Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPDS) and its education division leads on education policies. The DGPDS leads policy formulation, planning, and evaluation. With regard to implementation, AECID covers education-related programs through its Directorate for Multilateral and Sectoral Cooperation and its regional departments (i.e., the Directorates for Africa and for Latin America), which manage bilateral programs on the ground. Other relevant stakeholders within the education sectors include Spanish universities and development NGOs operating in the education sector, including Entreculturas, Fundación Carolina, and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Spain. DGPDS, AECID, and NGOs together coordinate support for education programs through the Spanish Cooperation Sectorial Board on Education (Mesa Sectorial de Cooperación en Educación).