Talk the talk – but not walk the walk

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That’s the way Larry Elliott in The Guardian sums up the donors lack of urgency in meeting the MDGs. Commenting on the just released UNESCO Education for All report, he writes:

“… donor countries can talk the talk but not walk the walk. According to the Unesco study, the aid required for even the most basic primary education provision in poor countries is US$11 bn (£7.2bn) a year. In 2006, spending amounted to around $4bn, leaving a funding gap of $7bn. To put that figure into context, it is around 10% of what Britain spent this autumn recapitalising the banking system”.

Maybe they will walk the walk at the UN Financing for Development summit now underway in Doha. But I wouldn’t hold your breath. “When financial systems fail, the consequences are highly visible and governments act,” concluded UNESCO’s Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. He added “When education systems fail the consequences are less visible, but no less real”.

I would add that education is the only investment you can be sure of getting at least some return on – provided it’s of good quality and children complete a minimum of 4 years primary education. Well-educated people earn more in the labour market, and find it easier to absorb new technologies and methods when they run micro-enterprises and farms. Education is a means to break the inter-generational transmission of chronic poverty (see this CPRC study for Bangladesh).

And even if it didn’t raise income much – which might be the case in economies that are growing only slowly – it certainly improves health status, especially of children, when mothers are educated. Educated mothers are 50% more likely to immunize their children than mothers with no schooling (go here). Gender inequality in education has high costs for both the family and society (see this IFPRI study).

So the chronic underfunding of education reminds me of that old quotation: if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

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5 Responses to “Talk the talk – but not walk the walk”

  1. Duma Says:

    Hey, Thats very nicely written and I would also like to tell you that my cousin has recommended this site. and as she said your all articles are very nice.
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  2. Busisiwe Baloyi Says:

    As a young individual who has the privilege to acquire knowledge by means of education,I believe that at this particular moment,our generation should have the luxury of attending schools.Everyone has that right and therefore this will have a much greater impact in the long run considering the fact that everyone will have the necessary skills to obtain proper employment. Not only will the workplace have a skills surplus rather than a shortage,it will essentially result in an increased economy and multiplier effect.I feel that the government has a responsibility to invest in the people by allocating large sums specifically towards education.

  3. Busisiwe Baloyi Says:

    As a young individual who has the opportunity to acquire knowledge by means of education, i believe that at this particular moment, our generation should have the luxury of attending schools. Everyone has that right and therefore this will have a much greater impact in the long run considering the fact that everyone will have the necessary skills to obtain proper employment. Not only will the workplace have a skills surplus rather than a shortage, it will essentially result in an increased economy and ,multiplier effect I feel that the government has a responsibility to invest in the people by allocating large sums of funds specifically aimed at increasing the rate of literacy.

  4. Andre De Oliveira Says:

    I am fortunate enough to say that I have the opportunity to attend school and get an education and I feel that every person should have that opportunity to get an education especially the less fortunate.I also feel that it is the governments responsibility to invest a great portion of the government budget in our educational system to insure that ever individual gets the opportunity to obtain an education as unemployment is thought to be the biggest contributor to poverty. We all know that having a education definitely does improve your chances of getting employed.

  5. Andre De Oliveira Says:

    I am fortunate enough to say that I have the opportunity to attend school and get an education and I feel that every person should have that opportunity to get an education as it is their right. I also feel that it is the governments responsibility to invest a great portion of the government budget in our educational system to insure that every individual gets the opportunity to obtain an education as unemployment is thought to be the biggest contributor to poverty. We all know that having a education definitely does improve your chances of getting employed.

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