Spain has not prioritized education funding in recent years, which has declined dramatically since 2008
Despite education being a high priority sector, funding to this sector sharply decreased since 2008 due to overall ODA budget cuts Spain spent US$156 million on global education in 2016 (latest year for which complete data is available), making it the 15th-largest donor country to the sector according to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data. This represented 3% of its total ODA to education, ranking 24th among OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor countries. This is below the average of 8% spent by DAC donor countries on education.
Spain’s education ODA has declined dramatically since 2008 when it ranked among the OECD’s top donors at US$483 million. Overall, Spain’s education ODA decreased by 68% between 2008 and 2016. This decline is explained by the general retrenchment of Spanish ODA as part of the government’s austerity measures over the past years.
In spite of these funding decreases, education is one of seven priorities of Spain’s development policy, as outlined in Spain’s ‘Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-2021’ (Master Plan). Education ODA might increase again as Spanish ODA as a whole recovers (for more details, see question one: ‘How much ODA does Spain provide?’), but as of yet there have been no concrete measures undertaken to achieve this.
Spain’s development agency (AECID) oversees implementation of its bilateral programs and defines four priorities for its education support in its Master Plan, which includes: 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.
Spain provided a relatively small portion of its education ODA as bilateral funding in 2016 (32% or US$51 million). By contrast, on average, DAC donors spent 70% 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 European Union – have assumed a large role as bilateral ODA has been cut. At US$50 million in 2017, bilateral education ODA remains as it was in 2016 and well below where it was before Spain’s economic and fiscal challenges occurred. Almost half of the education ODA went to ‘ general education’ (46%), which includes investments in system strengthening. The next-largest areas receiving funding were post-secondary education (23%), basic education (15%) and vocational training (12%).
Spain contributed US$105 million in 2016 in multilateral education ODA (or 67% of its overall education ODA), with the largest share of this contribution going to EU institutions (US$66 million). This was well above the DAC average of 30% of education funding going to multilaterals. Spain has been a strong supporter of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) in the past, having contributed US$353 million since its founding in 2002. Despite a five-year gap in contributions to the GPE, it still remains the eighth-largest donor. In February 2018, it pledged €1.5 million (US$2 million according to GPE’s conversion rate) to the GPE during its 2018-2020 replenishment conference in Dakar, Senegal. AECID declared in a 2016 document of recommendations for the education sector that GPE is one of the preferred instruments for the sector.
MAEUEC defines strategic orientations; AECID implements policy
Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEUEC), the most relevant departments covering education issues are the General Directorate for Sustainable Development Policies (DGPDS) and its education division. The DGPDS takes the leading role in 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 include universities and some development NGOs in the education sector, including Entreculturas, Fundación Carolina, and UNICEF Spain. DGPDS, AECID, and NGOs together aim to coordinate support for education programs in the Spanish Cooperation Sectorial Board on Education (Mesa Sectorial de Cooperación en Educación).