RESULTS Australia Urges World Banks to Do More on Education in Asia-Pacific

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s commitment to dramatically increase Australia’s overseas education aid must now be matched by the world’s development banks, according to a report released today.

The report, Banking On Education? by RESULTS Australia, states that 72 million children globally are still out of school, including 9.3 million in Asia-Pacific.

While the Australian Government has already demonstrated its overseas aid commitment to basic education with a 46% increase this year, the performance of other governments as well as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank has been patchy, says the report.

“As co-chair of the Class of 2015, a global push for all children to complete primary school by 2015, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has been a prominent international figure in this area,” said RESULTS Australia National Manager, Maree Nutt.

“It’s time for Australia to use its influence as a Board member of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the Fast Track Initiative, to exert significant pressure on the multilateral banks to do much more,” she said.

More than nine million children in the Asia-Pacific remain out of school, despite an increase in primary enrolment rates. Furthermore, 1.6 million adults in the region still lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Of these, 71 per cent are women.

Using research findings from Indonesia, Papua-New Guinea and the Philippines, the report urges the international community to overcome three major obstacles to achieving universal basic education:

  • Limited capacity of many countries’ education systems to deliver services;
  • A shortage of donor and developing country funding;
  • School fees which deter many poor families from sending children to school

“The extra donor funding needed to overcome these obstacles is about $15 billion per year. This is a significant sum, but since education is a powerful lever for both poverty reduction and economic growth, the payoff would greatly exceed the cost,” Ms Nutt said.

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