UN criticises rich countries over educational aid

University scholarships make up quarter of money donated

February 1, 2014

The United Nations has criticised wealthy countries for the way they provide educational aid to poor countries, claiming that their focus is on university scholarships rather than help for schools in the poorest nations.

A quarter of all educational aid takes the form of scholarships for students to study at university in rich countries, which amounted to $3.2 billion in 2010-11 (£1.95 billion), says a new report, meaning that the money often never actually leaves the donor country.

What is more, around $2.5 billion of this scholarship money goes to students from middle-income countries such as China rather than poor nations, points out Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All, released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation on 29 January.

“Such ‘aid’ to China exceeds the aid received by some of the poorest countries for basic education,” it complains.

“For instance, on average over 2010–2011, donors – primarily Germany and Japan – disbursed US$656 million per year to China for scholarships and student imputed costs, which was 77 times the amount of aid disbursed to Chad for basic education over the same period, and 37 times the amount given to Niger,” it adds.

More than four-fifths of this scholarship aid is given by Germany, Japan, Canada and France, the report says, but the UK and United States give only “negligible” amounts.

“Japan’s loans to the education sector go largely to middle income countries such as China and Indonesia, while the majority of France’s have been directed to North African countries such as Morocco,” the report explains.

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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