2016 has meant the beginning of a new period in the international development agenda. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals draws up a route to determine the cooperation policies for the next 15 years. Therefore, we are in a crucial period where the national ODA policies must be adjusted to the new international agenda and aware of new objectives that also mean engagement for our country – even those that referred to education. In order to advocate for the right funding to be allocated to assist the International Cooperation for education, three Jesuit organisations, two NGOs and a Studies Fundation, have examined the Spanish Official Development Assistance for over thirteen years now.
The report, “La Ayuda en Educación a Examen”, (Aid on Education to Test) checks what has been done in Spain in terms of international cooperation, especially of educational cooperation in the last 15 years, and also calls for place the education in the centre of all the national and international policies, because the official development assistance in Spain has plummet down so dramatically to small percentages seen 30 years ago. According to Ana Hernández, researcher in ETEA Foundation for Development and Cooperation, “between 2008 and 2015 the Spanish net aid suffered a decline of more than 65%, dropping from EUR 4 762 million to EUR 1 627 million. These numbers means only the 0,13% of the Gross National Income (GNI), what places the Spanish cooperation very far of the rest of donor countries and the proposed target of 0,7%, endorsed by Spain in various agreements and international commitments. In other words, Spain has falling from the peak of the 6th position among the most supplier countries to the 22nd position”.
The reductions aforesaid, has seriously affected the Spanish cooperation in the education sector, which has been reduced to more than 90% in the same period. In 2008, the Spanish assistance to education amounted 5,6% for the countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and it was the equivalent to only the 0,6% in 2014. The situation of the commitment with the basic education is similar. The funds set aside for the basic education has been reduced between 2008 and 2011 in an 81% continue decreasing the following years. In 2015 the assistance meant less than EUR 5 million, what represented only 0,7% of the bilateral aid, instead of the aid committed of 8% for the Spanish Official Development Assistance . Taking a stand for basic education is not still a priority, neither in the international agenda. According to the UNESCO, the financing gap in terms of education at international scale is estimated at USD 22 million for a quality basic education in 2030, and it would raise to USD 39 000 million if the globalization of the secondary education is required, according to the SDG number 4.
In this context, and according to Ramón Almansa, chief executive of Entreculturas (Jesuit Spanish NGO), “education cannot be confined to a specific objective, but is the way that we have to follow for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Education is an incomparable agent of social changes, it allows the achievement of other rights, and it facilitates the poverty reduction, the social inclusion or the improvement of professional opportunities, among other benefits. María del Mar Magallón, director of ALBOAN (Jesuit NGO) and moderator in the presentation of the report, also affirms “we won’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without the fulfillment of other educative objectives”. Development and Educational Cooperation are an inseparable binomial, as it is resumed in the video attached to the report (in Spanish).
In the same way, Ramón Almansa (Spanish NGO- Entreculturas) pointed out that “we won’t change the world if we don’t understand the education as the motor of change, of social transformation or as the instrument to construct values and abilities and as a key element to strengthen more equal, peaceful and democratic societies”. Besides, he also suggested some of the recommendations collected in the document “10 conclusiones y 20 recomendaciones para la cooperación española en educación” with the purpose of making some proposals for the construction of a more solid, coherent and effective Spanish cooperation policy. “We consider necessary the promotion of a speech supporting the main role played by the education, through the decisions-makers, in the development agenda and fulfill the economic commitments and the guidelines laid down in Education for All Iniative and the Framework of Action of the World Education Forum.”
“Recovering the investment of the Spanish Cooperation is indispensible, by prioritizing the aid to education as a key sector and also by increasing the funds for the basic education to the 8% of the Official Development Assistance. In the same way, it is necessary to promote a wide concept of educational quality linked to equality, inclusion and participation of the different agents, as well as a proper system of indicators. The Spanish Cooperation must detect and assist the most vulnerable populations and the homogeneity of countries and realities.”
Javier Gavilanes, head of the Sectorial Cooperation Department of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID in Spanish), has participated in this event. The SAIDC faced the challenges of the cooperation in terms of education based on three main lines: the promotion of a quality education, the assistance to the most vulnerable and affected people by difficult and particular circumstances and the encouragement of alliances with other actors for the achievement of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal.