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Two-thirds of poorest countries cut education budgets due to COVID-19, report says

Despite additional funding needs, two-thirds of lower-middle and lower-income countries have reduced their public education budgets since the outbreak of the pandemic in
Covid-19, according to a report released Monday by UNESCO.

The Education Finance Watch 2021, published jointly by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), notes that education budgets do not match the challenges posed by the pandemic of Covid-19especially in the poorest countries.

By comparison, only a third of upper-middle and upper-income countries have cut their budgets, according to the report, adding that these budget cuts have been « relatively small so far. »

« But there is a danger that future cuts will be greater, as the pandemic continues to have economic consequences and fiscal situations worsen, » he adds.

The annual report notes that these various trends imply a significant widening of the « already large spending disparities » observed between low- and high-income countries.

« The crisis of poverty in learning that existed before the Covid-19 it is becoming even more severe, and we are also concerned about the unevenness of that impact, « Mamta Murthi, vice president for human development at the World Bank, said in a statement.

« External funding is key to supporting educational opportunities for the world’s poorest, » said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO assistant director-general for education.

« However, donor countries are likely to direct their aid budgets towards their national priorities, and some have already started to do so. Health and other emergencies also need such funds, » Giannini said. « We anticipate a difficult environment for countries that depend on aid to education. »

UNESCO estimates that education assistance may fall by $ 2 billion from its peak in 2020 and not return to 2018 levels for six years.

 

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Xinhua Source