New report: G7 countries languish at bottom of class on education funding

Published: 1 November 2005

A new “school report card” released today reveals that 100 million children are still out of school because G7 and other rich countries are simply failing to provide the funding needed for a quality education.

A new “school report card” released today reveals that 100 million children are still out of school because G7 and other rich countries are simply failing to provide the funding needed for a quality education.

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) school report grades 22 rich countries on the quantity and quality of education aid they provide to poor countries. The US ranks at the bottom of the class, receiving a failing “F” grade along with Austria, closely followed by “E” grade countries Spain and Italy and “D” graded Germany and France. Norway scores at the top of the class with an A, followed by Netherlands, and “B” ranked Sweden, Ireland and the UK.

The School Report is the first full breakdown of just how much money individual donor country governments are actually providing since they promised five years ago to achieve “universal primary education” as one of the eight Millennium Development Goals.

It shows some promising signs that progress has been made by donors and developing countries since 2000 and 17 million more African children are getting an education. Yet most donor countries are failing to deliver: five of the G7 rank in the bottom half of the class, with a combined grade of 'D'.

The report calls upon donor countries currently meeting at the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington, DC to immediately increase quality education funding. Many developing countries have produced clear, credible plans to expand education through the Fast Track Initiative*, but have yet to receive the promised aid from donors.

It would take an additional $5.4 billion in aid annually to ensure that every child could go to school, which amounts to around two days global military spending or less than $1 for every child under the age of 18 in the developing world. Currently G7, other rich countries and multilateral donors provide a total of only $1.7 billion annually.

“Put simply, by failing to give the funding promised, the US and other G7 countries are preventing children in poor countries from going to school,” said GCE Bangladesh spokesperson Rasheda Chowdhury.

“Education is crucial to helping preventing HIV, increasing family earnings and ending poverty. Why won’t rich countries give children a chance by getting them into school?”

As a first step towards achieving the millennium goal of “universal primary education” donor countries promised to get as many girls as boys into school by 2005. Yet scandalously, even this modest target has been missed, and 9 million more girls than boys are left out of school every year.

For copies of the report please visit or

Contact Information

What is the Fast Track Initiative?
Three years ago, in April 2002, donor countries at the World Bank Spring Meeting launched a ‘Fast Track Initiative’ to mobilize and coordinate full funding and resources for developing countries that provide clear, costed plans to educate all their children. If developing countries developed sound, credible plans to expand education access and quality, donors would not let them fail for lack of funding. The 12 initial countries included: Yemen, Gambia, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Guyana, Nicaragua, Mozambique, Ghana, Vietnam, Honduras, and Guinea
Yet after devoting much effort to working out clear budgets with donors, the first 12 countries to join the Fast Track still need another $300m per year to implement their education plans. In other words, 40% of the aid promised to Fast Track countries never arrived.
Does education aid really work?
Education, especially for girls, empowers families to break the cycle of poverty for good. Young women with a primary education are twice as likely to stay safe from AIDS, and their earnings will be 10–20 per cent higher for every year of schooling completed. Evidence gathered over 30 years shows that educating women is the single most powerful weapon against malnutrition — more effective even than improving food supply. Without universal primary education, the other Millennium Development Goals — stopping AIDS, halving the number of people living in poverty, ending unnecessary hunger and child death — are not going to be achieved.
A number of poor countries are using a little bit of rich country aid, and a lot of their own money, to make amazing progress towards educating all their children. From 1990 to 2000, Ethiopia more than doubled enrolments, from 33 per cent to 71 per cent. A grant of just $3.5m from the Fast Track Initiative is helping 70,000 more 6-year-olds attend school in Nicaragua and providing a daily school meal to 800,000 pupils, up from 200,000 last year.
What is the GCE?
Oxfam International is a founding member of the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a group of organizations, activists and teachers from over 180 countries who believes that free, quality basic education for every girl, boy, man and woman is not only an essential right, but an achievable goal.
For more information, please contact : Caroline Green, Oxfam Press Officer Tel: 202 496 1174, or 202 321 7858