Spain has not prioritized education funding in recent years, which has declined dramatically since 2008
Spain is the 15th-largest government donor to education, spending US$152 million on education ODA in 2016, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Education is not a top priority of its development portfolio: in 2016, Spain allocated 3% of its total ODA to education, ranking 28th among 29 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$471 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 to achieve this.
Spain provided a relatively small portion of its education ODA as bilateral funding in 2016: 33%, or US$50 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, with mandatory contributions to multilateral organizations – particularly to the European Union – assuming a large role as bilateral ODA has been cut. Between 2015 and 2016, bilateral education ODA went up by 31%, reaching US$50 million. Almost half of this went to ‘ general education’ (48%), which includes investments in system strengthening. Two-thirds of this funding went to education facilities and teacher training. The next-largest areas of funding in 2016 were vocational training (18%) and basic education (17%), which includes primary education.
Spain’s development agency (AECID) oversees implementation of its bilateral programs and defines three priorities for its education support in its Master Plan: 1) foster free, inclusive, and high-quality education for all children; 2) support professional training and technical competences for the most vulnerable populations; and 3) raise awareness and education on sustainable development and solidarity aspects.
Spain directs less of its bilateral education ODA to low-income countries (LICs) than other OECD donors: 16% on average between 2014 and 2016, less than half the DAC average of 37%. The largest share of Spain’s bilateral education ODA goes to middle-income countries (MICs; 71% on average between 2014 and 2016), which aligns with Spain’s overall approach to development recipients (for more details, see question six: How is Spain’s ODA spent?). Geographically, key recipients of Spain’s bilateral education ODA are in Latin America (48% on average between 2014 and 2016). Spain mostly channels its bilateral education ODA through civil society organizations (51% in 2016) and the public sector (42% in 2016), which mostly comprises direct bilateral support to partner governments and programs implemented by AECID.
Spain contributed US$102 million in 2016 in multilateral education ODA (or 67% of its overall education ODA), with the largest share going to EU institutions (US$64 million). This was well above the DAC average of 30% of education funding going to multilaterals. Spain is a strong supporter of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), having contributed US$353 million since its founding in 2002. Despite a seven-year gap in contributions to the GPE since 2011, Spain it is still the sixth- largest donor. In February 2018, it pledged US$2 million 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.
Spain is not a major donor to education in humanitarian emergencies. None of Spain’s US$33 million in humanitarian aid went toward education in 2016, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The global average share of humanitarian assistance spent on education was 2.7% in 2016, according to OCHA. This is still significantly below the minimum 4% target established by the UN Global Education First Initiative.
MAEC defines strategic orientations; AECID implements policy
Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (MAEC), 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).