Sweden - Education
At a glance
Focus is on education systems strengthening and gender equality
According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Sweden spent US$236 million on global education in 2019, making it the tenth-largest DAC donor country to the sector. Education is not a top priority of Sweden's development portfolio: at 4%, its funding to the sector relative to the size its total ODA was considerably lower than other DAC donors' (DAC average: 10%). This places Sweden 28th among DAC donors in relative terms.
In 2019, 41% (US$96 million) of Sweden's education ODA was disbursed as core contributions to multilateral organizations, mostly comprised of assessed contributions through EU Institutions, to the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Sweden provides significant allocations to multilateral organizations as earmarked funding for specific topics or countries, which is reported as bilateral ODA. This includes, for example, funding to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which Sweden has supported since 2005. In total, it has contributed US$447 million (as of March 2021) to GPE, making Sweden its seventh-largest donor. In 2019, earmarked funding amounted to US$73 million, bringing education ODA channeled to or through multilateral organizations to US$170 million, or 72% of Sweden's total education ODA. Sweden is also the largest donor of unearmarked funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO's) educational support.
In total, 59% of Sweden's ODA to education in 2019 was channeled bilaterally (including the US$73 million in earmarked funding to multilaterals, reported as bilateral ODA under OECD DAC reporting rules). Despite a 10% drop in total bilateral education ODA between 2018 and 2019, basic education still attracted the largest share (49% or US$68 million) of funding. The second-largest funding area was 'general education ' (24% or US$34 million), which comprises programs aimed at strengthening partner countries' educational systems and capacities. This funding was entirely allocated to supporting partner countries' education policy and administrative management. Post-secondary education received 21% (US$30 million), making it the third-largest funding area in this sector.
Under its 2016 'Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance', Sweden highlights 'Education and Research' as one of eight priorities. The education portfolio is governed by the broader 'Sustainable Social Development Strategy' of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, renewed in July of 2018. Under the overarching goal of "Improved, equitable, inclusive and gender-equality education and quality lifelong learning", Sweden's activities focus on:
- Enhanced and sustainable quality systems for education and learning, from early childhood and throughout life;
- Improved opportunities for learning and knowledge acquisition, especially for girls and women;
- Increase knowledge about sex and relationships, including sexual rights, and enhanced work in and out of schools to combat gender-based violence;
- Improved access to clean water and safe and sustainable sanitation and hygiene in schools;
- Increased knowledge and integration of sustainable development in education and learning.
These priorities highlight synergies between the different social sectors, particularly with health and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). They also reflect Sweden’s strong engagement in gender equality and women’s empowerment. In its 2019 portfolio overview, Sida highlighted education as a critical human right, while emphasizing the need to pay closer attention to the importance of education in conflict, post-conflict situations, and humanitarian crises.
Countries in which education is a priority of Swedish bilateral cooperation
- South Sudan
MFA guides overall strategy for global education ODA, Sida manages implementation
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs oversees development policy and financing and decides on some core funding allocations to multilateral organizations. Sida manages bilateral funding and disbursements to specific multilateral organizations for education, including UNESCO and GPE, under the 'sustainable development' thematic funding line. Within Sida, the unit for Global Social Development in the Department for International Organizations and Policy Support (INTEM) holds primary responsibility for Sida's global education portfolio. For country-specific programming, the respective regional departments take the lead.