Is the Global Education Sector Heading Toward Fragmentation?
There are two different, starkly contrasting pictures of the situation of education if taken from the global point of view. One depicts a well-balanced and thriving system – this is found in the developed countries of Europe and North America. On the other hand, the other picture paints a gory tale of an abject, under-funded sector. This is true for many of the Third World countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The wide gulf in the level and quality of education has put kids from the less privileged areas at a disadvantage.
The good news, however, is that the global education sector is about to experience a transformation, with the influx of new donors and funds promising to revolutionize the sector. This, in theory, implies that the much-neglected education sector of the developing countries of the world is set to receive a boost as the funds will go a long way in repositioning the sector.
Cause for worry
Achieving this feat is not entirely as straightforward as it seems, though many experts have expressed their fear and concern that global education could be tottering toward fragmentation as a result of the proliferation of these funds.
The following points buttress the fears of these people.
Clash of donors’ interests
Having to deal with so many donors may prove to be tricky for the beneficiaries. This is because these funders will have various and sometimes contrasting conditions and requirements before they can allow these countries to get access to their funds. Satisfying all the terms and conditions might not be an easy task.
The tendency for duplication of efforts
With a lot of funds expected to be generated for education, new financing mechanisms such as Education Outcomes Fund, Education Cannot Wait, etc. are being created to add to the pre-existing ones. It is not sure whether these will work hand-in-hand in the disbursement of these funds or not. Should there be synergistic cooperation among them, then global education will be in good shape. If otherwise, there is a high tendency for duplication of efforts.
Problem of accountability
It might be difficult to efficiently monitor the operations of the numerous bodies responsible for these funds. The implication is that accountability could be a main issue, and money may not be used for the intended purpose.
Stiff competition for aid
Many developing countries in the world are all in contention for these educational funds. For a lot of reasons, some countries are better placed to receive funding than others, and this will eventually lead to fragmentation.
Another problem is the issue of potential donor fatigue. With substantial funds needed for education and a long-term donation being targeted, it is feared that some donors who have committed to the course could pull out later or drastically cut their contributions, a development that will put the plans for education funding in great jeopardy. This has happened in the past.
Funds are indispensable in order to achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aims at ensuring an equitable education for all. The efforts of the UN and UNESCO in generating funds for this project are commendable. However, proper care should be taken so that the funds do not turn out promoting fragmentation, the exact phenomenon they are meant to combat.