International aid to India for education is rising, bucking a global trend, data from the United Nations showed on Wednesday.
Data compiled by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in a global education aid monitoring report showed that India received $806 million in 2014, nearly twice the $421 million it received in 2013.
“Aid to India is bucking the global trend; it rose dramatically between 2013 and 2014,” Kate Redman, a member of the team that prepared the aid monitoring report, said in an email. She added that the jump indicated the commitment of global donor countries and agencies to India.
The World Bank leads the pack of donors supporting India, followed by EU institutions, the UK and Germany. All the four top donors increased their education aid to India. Though the global report was released on 25 April, India-specific data was released only on Wednesday.
“This is a positive for India. These increases should allow the country to tackle the areas of unfinished business in its education story, including the substantial amounts of adolescents still out of school, and the pervasive levels of adult illiteracy still remaining,” Redman said.
As many as 124 million children and adolescents worldwide are out of school, 17.7 million—or 14%—of whom are Indians, according to a 2015 Unesco report. India, however, has been maintaining that the number is less than 10 million.
While the fund flow to India doubled, globally international aid to education dropped some $500 million from $13.6 billion in 2013 to $13.1 billion in 2014.
Aid for education started climbing globally in 2002, when donor countries and agencies gave $6.5 billion, until 2007, when the aid was $12.1 billion. The economic downturn in 2008 pulled it down for the first time to $11.9 billion. Since then, aid flow has not been constant as donors have been conservative in the face of economic turmoil.
Between 2013 and 2014, four donors—France, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain—reduced aid to basic education by 40% or more, the latest Unesco report said.
Aaron Benavot, director of the team that prepared the report, said: “It is disheartening to see that international aid to education is going in totally the wrong direction. This will make education progress extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many countries still reliant on financial support from donors.”
On the rising trend of education aid to India, a human resource development ministry official, on condition of anonymity, said that the government is “happy, but not gung-ho” about the situation. “International aid is not even a fraction of what India spends on education. The education aid amount is not even 10% of what Union budget 2016-17 has pegged for the sector, not to mention the state expenditure,” the official said.