Debt instead of Aid?

IFFEd: Global Campaign for Education calls on donor States to focus their development aid to strengthening developing States’ capacity in the provision of education


For immediate release

As World Leaders will convene for the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Summit this week in New York, the Global Campaign for Education urges policy-makers to make sustainable commitments towards achieving the ambitious targets set in the 2030 agenda and to focus on increased domestic investment in education.

As the International Financing Facility for Education (IFFEd) will call on States to provide additional funds to support education through a so-called “innovative mechanism”, the Global Campaign for Education reiterates the concerns expressed since the inception of the mechanism (1).

IFFEd indeed relies on debt mechanisms, putting fragile States at risks. The rising debt crisis represents one of the major threats to domestic financing for education (last year Ghana spent 42% of its budget in debt-servicing).  Even low interest multilateral debt can contribute to debt crisis as a result of exchange rate shocks. As such, the use of loans to finance education can have major consequences and it would be irresponsible for IFFEd to consider lending to any country in moderate or high risk of debt distress.

Moreover, IFFEd will further contribute to the empowerment of the World Bank and other Multilateral Development Banks, while there is a lack of independent reviews / evaluations of their education agendas and programmes. GCE is not convinced that these institutions are the best to be making decisions about systems investments in education as there are concerns about the past track record of these banks: lacking transparency, effective targeting (to countries most in need), focus on basic education and support for public education systems. Too often they have been champions of privatisation or public-private partnerships, despite the evidence that these undermine equity and the right to education for all (2).

Finally, as the Education Commission pointed out, 97% of the resource needed to finance education would have to come from domestic resources. Putting the emphasis on external aid would further distract from the much-needed long-term systemic reforms that are needed at national level to improve governance and budget management, develop just and fair taxation systems and end capital flight and tax evasion.

As noted by the GCE’s President, Mr Refat Sabbah “Systemic long-term solutions should be the ones promoted by the international community. The Education 2030 agenda should be an ideal to reach in a sustainable manner and should strongly encourage us to support increased domestic investment in education.”

While the Global Campaign for Education acknowledges that IFFEd tries to find answers to a complicated issue, we reiterate that not all answers are adequate answers, and that to achieve the right to education for all more systemic solutions should be prioritised. GCE is convinced that strengthening States’ provision of education through increased capacity and fairer and just taxation should be at the centre of the debate (3).

The Global Campaign for Education therefore calls on States to focus their development aid to strengthening developing States’ capacity in the provision of education and strongly encourage the IFFEd to follow GPE’s policy of conditioning support on increased domestic investments in education. To incentivize sustainability and progress towards Leaving No-One Behind, IFFEd should incentivize equitable spending of education budgets and progress towards broadening tax base and in other ways increasing domestic revenue mobilisation.


Media contact: Julia Sestier, Global Campaign for education Communications Officer


Note to the editors

The Global Campaign for Education is the biggest civil society organisation promoting the right to education for all. Its membership comprises of major INGOs, teachers’ unions, regional networks and national education coalitions representing thousands of organisations and individuals worldwide.

Links to resources:

(1) GCE position on IFFED 2018

(2) Report on privatisation of education by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education:

(3) GCE positions on IFFED 2019

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