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THE POWER OF EDUCATION
TO FIGHT INEQUALITY
How increasing educational equality and quality is crucial to fighting
economic and gender inequality
2
OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER – SEPTEMBER 2019

Agood-quality public education is liberating for individuals. It can also be
an equalizer within society. This report shows the unparalleled power of
public education to tackle growing inequality and bring us closer together.
To achieve this, education must be both of good quality and equitable; it
should be free, universal, adequately funded, with well-supported
teachers, and accountable public oversight. Fairer taxation of the
wealthiest can help pay for it.
© Oxfam International September 2019
This paper was written by Jo Walker, Caroline Pearce, Kira Boe and Max Lawson. Oxfam
acknowledges the assistance of Helen Bunting, Katie Malouf Bous, Anjela Taneja, Nguyen Thu
Huong, Babeth Lefur, Stine Bang, Ida Kreutzman and Anthony Kamande in its production.
Oxfam also wishes to thank the Oxfam Education Community of Practice and Influencing as
well as the numerous country offices who have lent their support to the development of this
paper.
The paper is part of a series of papers written to inform public debate on development and
humanitarian policy issues.
For further information on the issues raised in this paper please email[email protected]
This publication is copyright but the text may be used free of charge for the purposes of
advocacy, campaigning, education, and research, provided that the source is acknowledged in
full. The copyright holder requests that all such use be registered with them for impact
assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, or for re-use in other
publications, or for translation or adaptation, permission must be secured and a fee may be
charged. Email [email protected]
The information in this publication is correct at the time of going to press.
Published by Oxfam GB for Oxfam International under
ISBN 978-1-78748-493-1 in September 2019.
DOI: 10.21201/2019.4931
Oxfam GB, Oxfam House, John Smith Drive, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK.
Front cover photo: A young student at a school in Santa Cruz Estelí, Nicaragua.
Back cover photo: Students at St Andrea Primary School in Lologo, Juba, South Sudan.
Both photos by: William Vest-Lillesoe.
3
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Summary…………………………………………………………………………………….4
Education that pulls us apart……………………………………………………….. 4
Education can close the gap between rich and poor ……………………….. 5
Education can close the gap between women and men…………………… 6
Free, public and high-quality education for all ………………………………… 7
Investing in free public education for all…………………………………………. 8
Education to fight inequality ………………………………………………………… 9
Recommendations …………………………………………………………………….. 9
1 The great equalizer ………………………………………………………………….12
The twin crises of quality and equality in education……………………….. 12
2 The power of education…………………………………………………………..14
Education can fight poverty……………………………………………………….. 14
Education can fight economic inequality………………………………………. 14
Education can fight gender inequality………………………………………….. 15
Education can deliver decent work……………………………………………… 16
Education can bring us closer together ……………………………………….. 17
3 The problem of unequal education……………………………………………19
The state of educational inequality……………………………………………… 19
Unequal education divides us ……………………………………………………. 21
Inequality in spending ………………………………………………………………. 23
The pressure on public education ………………………………………………. 25
4 Delivering quality and equality …………………………………………………31
Universalizing and equalizing basic education ……………………………… 31
Public first ………………………………………………………………………………. 32
Delivering quality for all …………………………………………………………….. 37
Using education to fight for women’s rights ………………………………….. 44
5 Investing in the future ……………………………………………………………..47
Increased investment in public education…………………………………….. 47
Taxing wealth as a down payment on a better future …………………….. 47
Public spending as an engine for fighting inequality ………………………. 48
Spending for equality ……………………………………………………………….. 51
6 Conclusions and recommendations………………………………………….53
Recommendations …………………………………………………………………… 53
Notes ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 56
4
SUMMARY
Inequality is reaching new extremes. Significant increases in inequality of both income
and wealth are leading to larger gaps between rich and poor, men and women.1 This is
creating serious obstacles to overcoming poverty and exclusion,2 and stopping us from
beating poverty.3 With women substantially over-represented in the ranks of the
poorest, this is also reinforcing gender inequality, blocking progress on women’s
rights.4 These inequalities threaten to pull our societies apart, and unravel the social
contract between state and citizen, by undermining social cohesion and eroding
democratic institutions.5
But inequality is not inevitable. It is a political choice. It is the result of deliberate policy
choices made by governments and international organizations. Conversely, it is now
broadly agreed by most global policy makers that extreme inequality is also avoidable,
and that concrete steps can be taken to reduce inequality.6
Good-quality education can be liberating for individuals, and it can act as a leveller and
equalizer within society. This report will show the unparalleled power of education to
level the playing field, to help close the growing divides, and bring us closer together.
‘There can be no contentment for any of us when there are children, millions of
children, who do not receive an education that provides them with dignity and
honour and allows them to live their lives to the full.’
Nelson Mandela7
EDUCATION THAT PULLS US APART
A highly unequal education system can also pull us further apart.
In most countries, children born into rich families will go to the best possible schools,
very often being privately educated. They will have small class sizes, good teachers
and get good results. These students will be given multiple opportunities to grow their
inherited privilege.
Girls and boys born into poverty, suffering from ill health and malnutrition, arrive at the
school gates already disadvantaged – if they arrive there at all. They will then struggle
with overcrowded facilities that lack trained and qualified teachers, textbooks and
toilets.
Pulled out of school before their brothers, millions more of the world’s poorest girls will
continue to have their life chances stymied by an education that is all too brief.
New analysis by Oxfam, using data from UNESCO, shows that in developing
countries, a child from a poor family is seven times less likely to finish secondary
school than a child from a rich family.8
Inequality is not inevitable.
It is a political choice.
5
Even in rich countries, only three-quarters of children from the poorest families
complete secondary education, compared to 90% of children from the richest families.9
Inequalities of income are compounded with other inequalities of gender, ethnicity,
disability and geography to form a suffocating web of exclusion. In a poor rural area of
Pakistan, girls are three times as likely as poor boys to have never attended school.10
In India, the median number of years of education girls from the poorest families
receive is zero, compared to 9.1 years for girls from the richest families.11 Educational
inequalities are also driven by policies that encourage commercialization of education
and expand private provision of schooling through public-private partnerships (PPPs),
which can deepen segregation and stratification in education systems.12
When good education can only be accessed by families with money, it undermines
social mobility; it ensures that if you are born poor, you and your children will die poor,
no matter how hard you work. It also undermines our societies, as the children of the
wealthy are segregated from the children of ordinary families from an early age.
‘I have seen so many clever girls and boys who score highly despite coming
from poor backgrounds. I remember Chimwemwe Gabisa – she was brilliant at
mathematics, the best I have taught. She finished secondary school but could
not proceed to college for lack of funds.’
Nellie Kumambala, secondary school teacher, Lumbadzi, Malawi13
While schooling remains segregated by class, wealth, ethnicity, gender or other
signifiers of privilege and exclusion, this cements inequality. Segregated patterns of
schooling build segregated communities, driving a wedge between the haves and the
have-nots, right at the start of life.
EDUCATION CAN CLOSE THE GAP
BETWEEN RICH AND POOR
Conversely, good-quality public education for all can be a powerful engine for greater
equality.
Governments can take the cost of a good education away from families, with an
immediate impact on the income gap between rich and poor, as the cash benefit is
proportionately far greater for families on lower incomes.
6
To find out more about these positive effects, Oxfam looked at available public
spending data for primary education across 78 low-, middle- and high-income
countries. The cash value of public education often exceeds the total income of the
poorest families by a wide margin. For a single mother with two children both in
primary school, for example, public spending on her children’s schooling exceeds her
family income by three times in Colombia.14
Yet beyond this boost to incomes, good education is an engine of equality in other
important ways, by:
• Reducing poverty. A good education makes the likelihood of higher incomes and
lower poverty much greater. It is estimated extreme poverty could be halved if
universal primary and secondary education were achieved.15 UNESCO estimates
that each year of schooling raises earnings by around 10% for men16 and up to
20% for women.17
• Boosting opportunity for all. Social mobility, i.e. the possibility for children from
poor families to end up better off than their parents, is intimately tied to the
availability of education.
• Bringing society together. Schools can be places where the children of rich and
poor families can become friends, and the barriers of inequality are broken down.
They can challenge the rules that perpetuate economic inequality in broader
society, and give young people the tools to go into the world and build more
equitable societies.
• Supporting democratic societies. Education offers individuals the tools to
exercise their right to an equal say over the structures and policies that govern their
lives, which boosts democracy.18 Extensive research shows that increased
education leads to greater political and civic engagement.19
EDUCATION CAN CLOSE THE GAP
BETWEEN WOMEN AND MEN
Good education has considerable power to increase equality between women and
men. Education can help tackle gender disparities in wages, poverty, reproductive
autonomy and political power. It can dramatically improve the health outcomes for
women and their children.
The more educated women are, the closer their earnings are to those of men. In
Pakistan, women with only a primary education earn around 50% of men’s wages.
Women with a secondary education earn 70% of men’s wages – still unacceptable, but
a far narrower gap.20
The more educated women are, the more power they have over their lives, particularly
over when they marry and how many children they have. If all girls in sub-Saharan
Africa and South and West Asia completed secondary education, there would be a
64% drop in child marriages.21
The more educated mothers are, the healthier they and their children are.22 UNESCO
estimates that if all women had completed primary education, there would be a 66%
reduction in maternal deaths globally, and a 15% reduction in child deaths.23
7
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, good quality education has the power to
challenge traditional social attitudes and ensure that girls and boys know that they are
equal.
FREE, PUBLIC AND HIGH-QUALITY
EDUCATION FOR ALL
The way that education is delivered is key to ensuring its positive impact on reducing
inequality can be maximized. To do this, education needs to be:
• Universal. In recent decades, there has been huge progress. Primary school
enrolment is now almost universal, with nearly as many girls enrolling as boys – a
huge challenge only a generation or so ago.24 Nevertheless, at current rates, it
could be another 100 years before all girls in sub-Saharan Africa have the
opportunity to complete a full 12 years of education, which is a commitment in the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).25
• Free. Government investment in free education is crucial for building equality
because it gives every child a fair chance, not just those who can afford to pay.
Fees of any kind at pre-primary, primary and secondary level exclude the poorest,
and especially girls. In Ghana, after fees for senior high school (upper secondary)
were dropped in September 2017, 90,000 more students came through the school
doors at the start of the new academic year.26
• Public. When publicly delivered education works, the scale and speed of its impact
cannot be matched. Many public education systems face challenges in terms of
learning outcomes, but the answer is adequate investment, not turning to the
private sector, as donors like the World Bank are increasingly advocating.27 Publicprivate partnerships (PPPs) and for-profit schools are a dangerous diversion from
what is needed to deliver education for all.
Box 1: PPPs in Pakistan are a dangerous diversion from public education
Pakistan has 24 million children out of school. To tackle this, Punjab State is no longer
building any new public schools, but instead investing in a PPP. The key aim is to get more
of the 5.5 million out-of-school children in Punjab into education.28
However, Oxfam’s research29 found that only 1.3% of children in the private schools
surveyed had previously been out of school. The following are quotes from private school
principals interviewed during the research:
‘We don’t have any out-of-school children in this school. The ones in the community don’t
want to study and can be a waste of our time.’
‘The poor go to government schools in the area. They cannot afford any expenditure on
education. We as school owners cannot include the poorest of the poor in this school with
other kids. It’s not like a charity, we have limited funds from [the PPP], and I also need to
earn a livelihood from this.’
‘In [the PPP] it is the teachers who suffer the most. I cannot pay a decent salary to my
teachers. I cannot hire male teachers, as they demand a higher salary. Females have
fewer options for work.’
• Investment in teachers. An empowered and professionally trained teacher has
been shown to be the biggest contributor to ensuring quality education.30 Public
school teachers, the majority of whom are women in most regions, are often
8
underpaid, under-supported and portrayed as part of the problem.31 Yet they are
the backbone of every school system.
• Inclusive. Education and teaching have to address the unique learning needs of all
students and be designed to meet the needs of those left out and left behind,
including children with disabilities, minorities, marginalized groups, the poorest and
out-of-school children.
• Relevant. The curriculum, or what is taught in school, is vital to ensuring the
maximum impact of education on reducing inequality. Teaching needs to be in the
local language and done at a pace that benefits all children, not just the top
performers. Curricula need to challenge traditional attitudes to gender equality and
inspire critical thinking in children.
• Accountable to families and citizens. Good education systems have good public
oversight mechanisms. These ensure that every school is properly scrutinized and
accountable to those it serves.
INVESTING IN FREE PUBLIC
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Delivering universal public education for all is an investment. As the World Bank and
others have noted, investment in human capital is integral to driving sustainable and
equitable economic growth.32 Many governments recognize this and have dramatically
increased their funding of education.
Box 2: Progress in education in Ethiopia
Many developing countries today operate public services on a scale impossible to conceive
in the history of rich nations when at comparable income levels.
Ethiopia is a poor country, with around the same per capita income as Canada in 1840.33
However, it is the fifth largest spender on education in the world as a proportion of its
budget:
• It employs over 400,000 primary school teachers;34 and
• Between 2005 and 2015, it has brought an additional 15 million children into school –
from 10 to 25 million.35
Ethiopia still faces serious challenges with learning outcomes and improving the quality of
education,36 but the scale of its commitment and effort to educate girls and boys is
dramatic.
Sadly, many others have not. Nigeria has more than 10 million children out of school,
yet some of the lowest education spending in the world.37
Most of the increased spending can be covered by increased tax collection from rich
individuals and corporations. For example, Ecuador tripled its education spending from
2003 to 2010 through effective tax mobilization policies and prioritizing education in its
budget.38
However, tax alone is not enough. The poorest countries need significantly increased
levels of aid from rich nations for education. Of the $340bn needed, $40bn will need to
come from increases in donor aid. Aid to education, after falling, is now stagnant, and
being diverted away from those countries that need it most.39
9
EDUCATION TO FIGHT INEQUALITY
‘Education is not a way to escape poverty. It is a way of fighting it.’
Julius Nyerere, founding president of Tanzania40
Economic inequality is growing. The kind of education system a country has will have a
major impact on the capacity to respond to this. Access to good quality education for
individual children offers a pathway to liberation from poverty and illness, towards the
fulfilment of basic rights. It can transform lives and bring children out of the shadows of
poverty and marginalization. For societies, it acts as a leveller, and as an agent for
greater equality. Rapidly investing in quality public education for all should be a priority
for all nations.
RECOMMENDATIONS
To build equitable and good-quality public education that can help fight economic and
gender inequality, policy makers must focus on the following actions:
1. Deliver universal, fee-free education from preprimary to secondary
• Set out plans to ensure free, equitable and high-quality primary and secondary
education for 12 full years, as agreed in SDG 4 on education.
• Eliminate fees at all levels, including informal fees, progressively achieving fee-free
secondary education. This must be carefully planned so as not to jeopardize
quality. Progressively expand access to at least one year of fee-free, quality preprimary education.
• Support the poorest, minorities and children with disabilities with extra help to
redress disadvantage, so that they stay in school and learning.
• Support poor and vulnerable girls to go to school and stay in school.
2. Focus on policies that can help to deliver quality
for all
• Develop a fully costed and funded strategy to deliver a trained, qualified and wellsupported professional workforce, with enough teachers and other personnel to
deliver education for all up to secondary school.
• Invest in relevant and non-discriminatory teaching materials, taking into account
mother tongues; the changing needs of the majority; and the need for schools to be
places where sexist and patriarchal rules are challenged, not learned.
• Develop local accountability mechanisms between schools and their communities,
parents and children; build better safeguarding and accountability mechanisms from
national to local levels, including ensuring budgets and other information is
available publicly and transparently for citizen scrutiny.
• Use appropriate assessments that encourage a feedback loop for curriculum
development and classroom adaptations at the local level; do not simply equate
higher test scores with improved quality.
10
3. Deliver more equal education systems
• Develop national education plans that focus coherently and comprehensively on
identifying pre-existing inequalities in education, producing data on gaps and
needs, and developing appropriate strategies.
• Ensure equitable teacher deployment, coupled with equitable spending on school
infrastructure and learning inputs, to help redress disadvantage. This may require
affirmative action in poorer or more marginalized districts or regions.
• Ensure additional spending targeted at redressing disadvantage for marginalized or
poor children in ways with proven impact.
• Ensure schools and teachers are supported to address the unique learning needs
of all students, including children with disabilities. This will require training teachers
on differentiated instruction as well as proper data collection and diagnosis.
4. Focus on building public systems first; stop
supporting privatization
• Devote the maximum available resources to public education provision, to ensure
adequately and equitably financed public schools; do not direct public funds to
commercial or for-profit private schools, or market-oriented PPPs. Avoid diverting
scarce public resources and attention away from the essential task of building
good-quality, inclusive public schools that are free and accessible for all students.
• Ensure adequate regulation of private education providers, especially commercial
schools, to ensure educational quality and standards are being upheld.
• Safeguard the labour rights of teachers, especially female teachers, in the public
sector and the private sector as well.
• Donors and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank should support the
improvement and expansion of public education delivery, and should not direct
public aid funds to commercial or for-profit private schools, or market-oriented
PPPs.
5. Ensure education works to strengthen equality
for girls and women
• Address the particular barriers that keep girls out of school or learning, such as
providing separate bathrooms for boys and girls, addressing the non-fee related
costs of schooling, and ensuring curricula and teacher training promote positive
gender roles and avoid stereotypes.
• Invest in early childhood care and education programmes that take account of the
needs of women (i.e. fit around typical working hours), and young girls who are
expected to care for children: this can free up women’s time by easing the millions
of unpaid hours they spend every day caring for their families and homes.
6. Fully fund public education systems to deliver
quality and equality for all
• Governments must scale up spending to deliver quality and equity in education; in
low- and middle-income countries this will require at least 20% of government
budgets, or 6% of GDP allocated to education. Those with the furthest to go, and
large youth populations, may need to invest more than this in the short term.
11
• Government spending must proactively redress disadvantage, including by
adopting equity-of-funding approaches to address the historical disadvantage faced
by the poorest groups.
• Invest in building robust structures, from school to local to national levels, for the
effective oversight and accountability of education budgets.
• Tax wealth and capital at fairer levels. Stop the race to the bottom on personal
income and corporate taxes. Eliminate tax avoidance and evasion by corporations
and the super-rich. Agree a new set of global rules and institutions to fundamentally
redesign the tax system to make it fair, with developing countries having an equal
seat at the table.
• Donors should substantially increase their official development assistance (ODA)
commitments to education, especially to basic education and in countries with the
greatest needs, in order to ensure developing countries are able to devote
adequate resources to build quality public education provision.
Three students at Project School in Bajarial, South Sudan. Photo credit: William Vest-Lillesoe.
12
1 THE GREAT EQUALIZER
Public education has long been described as ‘the Great Equalizer’ because of its
transformative power for individuals and society.41 It can help to tackle extreme income
inequality42 and chronic poverty; ensure economic growth is more broadly shared by
acting as a redistributive tool; and lead to more equitable national economies.43
In this way, a good-quality education can be liberating for individuals, and it can act as
a leveller and equalizer within society, closing the gap between rich and poor, and
women and men. However, the converse can also be true: a highly unequal education
system can pull us further apart. This is because an education system that is itself
highly unequal will contribute towards more unequal societies by solidifying preexisting inequalities and limiting social mobility.
If we want to use education as a tool for fighting inequality, it matters how we do it.
Quality for all is key to unlocking potential
In the report Public Good or Private Wealth? Oxfam presented clear evidence of the
role quality public services play in reducing inequality.44 To most effectively reduce the
gap, public services need to be universal, free, public, accountable and work for
women. This includes education.
Quality in education is also about how much, and what, is learned. In an increasingly
complex world, this cannot merely be about just learning the basics. It must be about
giving an opportunity for every child to make the most of their talents, to contribute to
and benefit from economic prosperity, and to be part of human progress. The type of
education available to the majority must be good enough to unlock that potential.
This requires a bolder vision for the kind of education available to all our children:
transformative, giving girls and boys the skills to make their own choices and
decisions, and empowering individuals to become active and responsible citizens. It
must focus on breaking down gender inequalities, giving girls and boys the same
opportunities, while challenging stereotypes about the roles of women and men, and
empowering girls to challenge inequality.
THE TWIN CRISES OF QUALITY AND
EQUALITY IN EDUCATION
It is not enough to only focus on improving quality; we must also attempt to equalize
opportunity within education. Governments must focus on the extreme inequality in
education in many developing countries, where schools are often segregated by class.
Poor children do systemically worse than their richer peers, dropping-out earlier,45 and
girls face severe discrimination.46 Making education more equal means improving
access to education for all – from early years through to at least secondary schooling.
The evidence from around the world shows that raising quality while focusing on
making education more equal is key to raising standards for all, and tackling broader
inequality in society.47 In other words, if a government wishes to ensure that education
contributes to building a more equal society, then education systems themselves need
13
to be more equal. Action on equality and quality must go hand-in-hand: they cannot be
seen as policy trade-offs.
Addressing the combined challenge of expanding educational access together with
improving learning for all young people, regardless of their background, must remain a
top priority for governments. But the reality in the majority of developing countries is
that there is an enormous gulf in the schooling experience of its richest and poorest
girls and boys. The richest children tend to go to private, well-resourced schools, in
which their talent is nurtured, usually until the end of secondary schooling, and often
beyond. The poorest manage a few years in an underfunded public school, often with
an overwhelmed teacher; they learn little, drop out in large numbers and their talent is
squandered. Many of the poorest girls, in particular, don’t even make it through the
classroom doors.
The international community, through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, has
committed to inclusive, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for all
children by 2030.48 The challenge remains in turning these words into reality – it
requires tackling the twin crises of quality and inequality in countries with poor
education systems. This report shows how governments can do it through the right
policies.
Box 3: Defining quality, equity and equality in education
When discussing inequality in education, we discuss both ‘inequality of opportunity’ and
‘inequality in outcomes’. We sometimes use the word ‘inequity’ and ‘inequality’
interchangeably. Oxfam recognizes that these are contested terms used differently by
different people. Oxfam has chosen, in the main, to talk about equality in education to
better mirror the importance of the broader struggle towards greater equality in societies.
Oxfam recognizes that the education sector has often used the term ‘equity’ to signify an
approach that considers the social justice ramifications of education – i.e. the fairness or
justness of education. We recognize the fundamental importance of social justice, and
apply the same principles to the term ‘equal education’. Oxfam’s interpretation of equal
education also includes the important role of education as a public good, in fighting for
equality and other social goods.
In some instances, however, the word ‘equity’ is deliberately used49 because equality in
education is not always achieved through equal policy interventions for all, i.e. the poorest
children often require more resources to catch up, and eventually close the achievement
gap, or children with a disability may require additional support. This is at the heart of
equitable policy making in educational provision.
When talking about ‘quality’, it should be clear that this is not focused only on equipping
children with basic skills (such as literacy and numeracy); such foundations are critical but
insufficient to unleash the equity-enhancing and transformative role of education. Rather,
Oxfam believes that a good-quality education supports the cognitive, creative and
emotional development of all learners. Education should be transformative for learners.
Action on equality and
quality must go hand-inhand: they cannot be seen
as policy trade-offs.
14
2 THE POWER OF
EDUCATION
Education can be a powerful tool for individual opportunity. It can help equip men and
women, rich and poor with equal voice and power; it can drive social mobility, build
more cohesive societies and, ultimately, build greater equality. This section reviews the
evidence of the unparalleled power of education to act as an equalizing force.
EDUCATION CAN FIGHT POVERTY
There is considerable evidence that education tackles poverty. It is estimated that
extreme poverty could be halved if universal primary and secondary education was
achieved.51
Universal free education enhances people’s earning power, and can bring them out of
poverty. Low levels of education hamper economic growth, which in turn slows down
poverty reduction.52 UNESCO estimates that each year of schooling raises earnings by
around 10%;53 this figure is even higher for women. In Tanzania, having a secondary
education reduces the chances of being poor as a working adult by almost 60%.54
Investment in education is also a proven enabler of the whole sustainable development
agenda: it can lead to improvements in long-term health benefits, help ensure greater
gender equality, promote democratic governance and peace, foster more sustainable
livelihoods and tackle environmental degradation.55
EDUCATION CAN FIGHT ECONOMIC
INEQUALITY
A growing body of evidence has shown that extreme income inequality is preventable
through investment in quality and equitable education.56 Increased spending on
education is, as the IMF has highlighted, an element of the ‘right policies’ to tackle
inequality.57 The OECD has made education central to its policy agenda for tackling
rising income inequalities in both developed58 and emerging economics.59 The 2018
World Inequality Report pointed to the need for public investment in education ‘to
tackle existing inequality and to prevent further increases’.60
This is because public spending on education has an immediate impact on income
inequality and poverty by redistributing public resources; it can also have a secondary
and longer-term impact on inequality through its effects in promoting social mobility
and boosting future earnings and opportunities.
The expansion of schooling across the developing world has had a particularly
profound impact on poverty and inequality; as greater schooling has targeted the most
disadvantaged populations, it has had a large impact on inequality. An IMF crosscountry analysis61 found that, while spending on education is ‘always inequality
reducing’, expansion in developing countries over the last few decades accounts for
much of this. This means that education expansion over the last 15 years has had a
‘Education is the great
engine of personal
development. It is through
education that the
daughter of a peasant can
become a doctor, that the
son of a mine worker can
become the head of the
mine, that a child of
farmworkers can become
the President of a great
nation. It is what we make
out of what we have, not
what we are given, that
separates one person
from another.’
Nelson Mandela50
15
‘significant impact’ on income inequality across multiple countries – especially in
developing and emerging economies.62 Looking to the future, the IMF noted that
continuing to tackle inequality in education will put ‘strong downward pressure on
income inequality’.63
Continual investment in bringing increased levels of education to more of the
population must therefore be central to fighting inequality and poverty. This is
particularly pressing now, as previous progress on poverty reduction is stalling. With
extreme poverty increasing in sub-Saharan Africa,64 expanding education as an engine
for poverty reduction must continue to be a focus for governments.
EDUCATION CAN FIGHT GENDER
INEQUALITY
Education has a particularly important role to play in fighting the economic divide that
both drives the gap between women and men and is driven by it.
By ensuring all girls have equal educational opportunities, governments can have a
huge impact on women’s empowerment and gender inequalities. The considerable
progress in reducing gender disparities in school enrolment over the last 15 years or so
– mainly at primary level – has helped to reduce gender inequalities. But significant
inequalities still exist in many countries. Data consistently shows, especially in low- and
middle-income countries, that girls from poor families are the children most likely to be
(and remain) out of school.66 There remains an extremely troubling likelihood for girls
not to continue their schooling beyond primary education. They are also substantially
more likely to drop out of school earlier due to work or early marriage.67 Moreover, girls
often have to juggle a multitude of domestic duties – such as fetching water, cooking
and cleaning – with school work.
These gaps need to be overcome to fight gender inequality in the short, medium and
long term. When girls and young women are educated – even to primary level, but
ideally up to at least secondary – the benefits are significant, for themselves, their
families and their societies.
Ensuring that girls can continue in school longer plays a well-established role in limiting
other practices, such as child marriage.68 Expanding secondary level education has
been shown to have the biggest impact overall on reducing child marriage.69 Girls and
young women with no education are three times more likely to marry before 18 than
those with a secondary or higher education.70 It is estimated that if all girls in subSaharan Africa and South and West Asia completed secondary education, there would
be a 64% drop in child marriages.71 Girls pushed into child marriage, almost always to
older men, often become pregnant while still adolescents, causing gender and age
imbalances that leave them struggling to negotiate their sexuality.72 Neither physically
nor emotionally ready to give birth, they face higher risks of death in childbirth – the
leading cause of death among older adolescent girls in developing countries.73 Such
practices are often viewed in communities as a part of the traditional way of easing
economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family, or to preserve
a girl’s honour: the underlying driver, though, is inequitable relationships between men
and women, boys and girls.
The disproportionate benefits of expanding education extend to women’s children. The
more educated mothers are, the less likely their children will be subject to early death,
‘Education can be a locus
of gender inequality,
where stereotypical
behaviour and views are
reinforced, or a catalyst of
transformation, providing
individuals with
opportunity and capability
to challenge and change
discriminatory attitudes
and practices.’
2016 Global Education
Monitoring Report,
Gender Review65
16
waterborne diseases, malaria and malnutrition.74 In Kenya, education reforms that
increased schooling for young women by 1.8 years also led to a 34% decline in the
maternal mortality rate later in their lives. UNESCO estimates that if all women
completed primary education, there would be a 66% reduction in maternal deaths
globally, and a 15% reduction in child deaths.75 All this helps to reduce the
transmission of intergenerational poverty and inequality.
Girls from Chembera secondary school in Balaka district, Malawi, with the bicycles they received from
Oxfam in order to commute to school every morning. The aim is for the bicycles to act as an incentive for
parents and guardians to send their girls to school, since distance will no longer be a barrier to them
accessing education. Photo: Corinna Kern.
EDUCATION CAN DELIVER DECENT
WORK
Education disrupts persistent and growing inequality by supporting the growth of more
decent work, raising incomes for the poorest people.
These opportunities are significant: in El Salvador, for example, 47% of adults with a
secondary education have a formal employment contract, compared to just 5% of
those with less than primary education.77 In South Africa, completing upper secondary
education, as opposed to just lower secondary education, raises the chance of
employment from less than 45% to 60%.78 The work and income effects of education
are particularly marked for women. In Pakistan, for example, working women with good
literacy skills earn nearly twice as much as women with weak literacy.79
However, the more significant wage-boosting power of education does not come
simply from basic literacy, but from the education that can be received at secondary
level and above.80 Thus, ensuring that poor children, especially girls, advance through
the education system is crucial. As the World Inequality Lab states, ‘more equal access
to education and well-paying jobs is key to addressing the stagnating or sluggish
income growth rates of the poorest half of the population’.81
‘Education should be a
driver of equal
opportunity and social
mobility, not a
transmission
mechanism for social
injustice.’
2010 Education for All
Global Monitoring
Report76
17
Current trends in working patterns and the nature of employment seem likely to elevate
the importance of good education for all in reducing inequality. Many economies are
now shifting employment away from agriculture and manufacturing, while demand for
high-skilled workers grows. The global employment share of high-skilled workers has
grown by almost 40% since 1990, and work is increasingly polarized between highand low-skilled jobs, as advancing automation puts low- and medium-skilled jobs at
risk.82 With many of the world’s low-skilled jobs most susceptible to automation,
developing economies will be at greater risk of technology-induced unemployment. For
instance, it is estimated that half of the world’s jobs are expected to disappear due to
automation by 2030.83 There will be an increased demand for high-skilled labour as
many low- and medium-skilled jobs become obsolete. The very nature of this work
requires dramatically increasing the quality of education in almost all developing
countries. Thus, holistic, high-quality education that teaches critical thinking and
higher-order skills, not just narrow numeracy and literacy, will be vital because these
are the skills required for the jobs of the future.
EDUCATION CAN BRING US CLOSER
TOGETHER
The opportunity for every child to learn and make the most of their talents is crucial for
building fairer societies, and crucially, the sense that a society is fair among its
citizens. Education can help to promote long-lasting, inclusive economic growth and
social cohesion; it can empower individuals to reach their full potential and enjoy the
fruits of their labour, regardless of their circumstances at birth. Education can also help
to mitigate some of the more corrosive impacts of extreme inequality on society, such
as the erosion of democratic institutions.
Social mobility – the ability to move up the income ladder, both in one’s lifetime and
relative to one’s parents – is central to reducing inequality, fighting poverty and
inclusive growth. Historical evidence clearly shows that equal education has been a
major driver of social mobility, and this continues to be the case in many countries.84
On an individual level, the abilities to read, write, and analyse and evaluate different
sources empower citizens to engage in civic and political life. In a democratic society,
education offers individuals the tools to exercise their right to an equal say over the
structures and policies that govern their lives. Extensive research dating back at least
to the 1970s bears out the intuitive expectation that increased education leads to
greater political and civic engagement.85 This holds in wealthy countries,86 as well as
less wealthy democratic countries. The latest Afrobarometer survey of 36 African
countries, for example, shows that respondents who had completed primary school or
above were all more likely to have ever contacted their local government councillor
than those with no or very little formal education.87
This matters for nations as a whole, not just individuals. Around the world, higher
levels of education correlate to greater support for democracy, as opposed to less
equitable and participatory forms of government.88 Analysis of this data has showed
clearly that:
• education itself leads to democracy;
• this relationship holds across countries; and
Education can help to
promote long-lasting,
inclusive economic growth
and social cohesion; it can
empower individuals to
reach their full potential
and enjoy the fruits of their
labour, regardless of their
circumstances at birth.
Education can also help to
mitigate some of the more
corrosive impacts of
extreme inequality on
society, such as the
erosion of democratic
institutions.
18
• as education levels increase, democracies are more likely to be stable and to
persist in the face of challenges.89
The same Afrobarometer survey shows that education levels are a significant predictor
of support for democracy and rejection of non-democratic alternatives, with a 13
percentage point increase in support for democracy among those with some secondary
education compared to those with no formal schooling, and nearly a 20 point difference
between those who have completed university and those with no schooling.90 As
shown in Figure 3, even having a school in the local area increases support for
democracy, with this difference most marked in some of those countries – such as
Egypt and Sierra Leone – where democracy is less well entrenched.91
The evidence thus indicates that, in countries where access to education is restricted,
opening up education to a broader section of society plays an important role in
entrenching democracy and democratic decision making. As one recent analysis of the
data concludes, ‘education causes the more inclusive groups to dominate politics’.92
This is borne out by a recent study by economists Mark Gradstein and Moshe
Justman, which has made explicit the role of public education specifically in building
the social cohesion that underpins inclusive and equitable government and politics, or,
as they describe it, the role of public schooling in providing benefits ‘by shrinking the
“social distance” between individuals’.93
Figure 1: Surveyed level of support for democracy among 36 African
countries
Source: Data taken from the Afrobarometer Survey. Afrobarometer Data, 2016, available at:
http://afrobarometer.org.
In developing countries (especially fragile states where the social contract is still being
built), the delivery of public education plays a crucial role in building state-citizen trust.
Studies show that positive schooling experiences give children and families faith in
government and society. If the coverage or quality of government schools is very weak,
it can erode this faith.94 This is particularly important in fragile and low-income
countries, where the only visible sign of that contract may be the local school.
More equitable public education is key to building or repairing the social contract, by
helping people to participate more equally in public discourse, democracy and decision
making; increasing the sense of equal opportunities; and helping to build a coherent
sense of ‘the public’.95
Positive schooling
experiences give children
and families faith in
government and society. If
the coverage or quality of
government schools is
very weak, it can erode
this faith.
19
3 THE PROBLEM OF
UNEQUAL EDUCATION
In spite of the vast potential of education to tackle inequality in society, at present,
education systems in many developing countries are largely reproducing inequalities.
Vast disparities in educational opportunities are a mirror image of pre-existing
inequalities in wider society.
The education available to the majority is letting children down, because it is often very
poor quality; not free; or biased against people who are poor, disabled or the most
marginalized. Many girls continue to struggle to go to school; when in school, they
have to fight against powerful patriarchal expectations of their roles. This gets in the
way of these children realising their potential, and limits education in its power to
transform lives and promote meaningful opportunity.96 Put simply, right now education
is not doing enough to help bring societies closer together.
In developing countries, children from rich families are seven times more likely to
complete secondary school than children from poor families.97 Even in rich countries,
only three-quarters of children from the poorest families complete secondary
education, compared with 90% from the richest families.98
THE STATE OF EDUCATIONAL
INEQUALITY
While patterns of educational inequality vary between countries based on historical,
geographical or economic factors, common bases of inequality include:
• rural/urban divides;
• family income poverty;
20
• gender;
• disability;
• ethnic, religious or language identity; and
• location.
There has been huge progress since the 1990s in getting more children into primary
school. However, there are still gaps in progression across primary school, and many
of the most marginalized and poorest children, often girls, remain out of school. An
average level of primary school completion of 74% across low- and lower-middle
income countries99 masks large and often persistent inequality gaps. These gaps are
largely between children from the poorest and wealthiest backgrounds. In Pakistan, for
instance, more than 75% of the richest children complete primary school, but fewer
than 30% of the very poorest do.100 In Denmark, 9th grade students from the upper
middle class score 30% better in exams than children from poorer households.101
These gaps widen further after primary school. In a large majority of developing
countries, the poorest children have less than 10% of the chances of rich children to
attend higher education. For example, in Malawi, a poor child has about 30% of a
wealthier child’s chance of enrolling in secondary school, and less than 1% of a
wealthier child’s chance of enrolling in higher education.102
Location is another common source of inequality. In most developing countries, rural
children are at a distinct disadvantage. In Senegal, urban children are twice as likely to
be in school as rural children.103 In most low- and middle-income countries, children
with disabilities are more likely to be out of school than any other group of children.104
Figure 2: Primary completion rates for different regions, between the
poorest and richest quintiles
Source: Data taken from the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE). See https://www.educationinequalities.org/.
In Malawi, a poor child has
about 30% of a wealthier
child’s chance of enrolling
in secondary school, and
less than 1% of a
wealthier child’s chance of
enrolling in higher
education.
21
These patterns are broadly reflected in learning inequalities: the poorest children
consistently perform at lower levels than their wealthier peers. In Madagascar, by the
end of primary school, 97% of the richest learn the basics in reading, but only 15% of
their poorest counterparts meet the same level.105
Much has happened to get more girls into school over the last half decade, with the
average number of years in school for girls doubling globally from three to seven.
However, in some countries, there is still an incredibly low level of access even to
primary school for girls: in Central African Republic and Chad, more than a third of girls
of primary school age are out of school; this is even higher in Liberia (64%).106 In India,
the median number of years of education girls from the richest 20% receive is 9.1,
whereas the median number for children from the poorest 20% is zero years.107 But it
is the poorest rural girls – those facing intersectional discrimination – who deal with the
greatest challenges in getting to school, especially in highly patriarchal societies. For
instance, deeply rooted gender inequalities in Pakistan are reflected across all groups,
but for poor children, especially in rural or disadvantaged areas, they act as a powerful
exclusionary force from education (see Figure 3). As a result, poor girls are three
times as likely as poor boys to have never attended school. 108
Figure 3: What are your chances of having less than four years’
schooling in Pakistan? Intersecting inequalities by wealth, gender and
location.
Source: Data taken from the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE). See https://www.educationinequalities.org/.
UNEQUAL EDUCATION DIVIDES US
Currently education is doing too little to ensure that children can learn together – or
from each other. In many poor countries, a child born to a rich family will go to the best
school, with the best teaching, and will be given more opportunities to grow their
inherited privilege. They will be able to use their wealth to see that their children do the
same.
If they make it into education, the world’s poorest girls and boys – due to poverty, ill
health and chronic malnutrition – will arrive at the school gates already severely
22
disadvantaged. They will then struggle in overcrowded facilities that lack teachers,
textbooks and toilets. They will pass on their poverty to their children.
Pulled out of schools before their brothers, millions more of the poorest girls – whose
education is often deemed a ‘waste’ after a certain age by powerful gender norms –
will continue to have their life chances stymied by an education that is all too brief.
As long as the schooling offered in villages, towns and cities across the developing
world is segregated by class, wealth, ethnicity, gender or other signifiers of privilege
and exclusion, it will cement inequality. Segregated patterns of schooling build
segregated communities by driving a wedge between the haves and the have-nots
right at the start of life. When schools become a haven for equity in the community,
they can challenge the rules that perpetuate economic inequality in broader society.
They can give young people the tools to go into the world and build more equitable
societies.
Unequal education is eroding democracy
Unequal education has serious implications for our societies, as well as individuals. A
stratified and segregated system in which a low-quality education is available to the
majority, while the more privileged can pay for a better education, does little to facilitate
social cohesion or build a public sense of a collective.
Growing inequality is contributing to widespread mistrust of democratic institutions in
many countries.109 When governments fail to deliver basic functions expected by
citizens, such as quality public services, they feel let down. When governments fail to
ensure taxes are paid to enable them to provide public services, and when people see
no dividends from democracy, that mistrust erodes democratic institutions. According
to the International Trade Union Confederation’s 2017 Global Poll, 85% of the world’s
people want the rules of the global economy rewritten, and people unanimously believe
that the world would be a better place if governments were more committed to
delivering public goods, such as education.110
Inequality in education is also contributing to a sense of social mobility being jammed,
and the game being stacked in favour of the privileged. ‘Mobility has stalled in recent
years’,111 is the conclusion of a recent World Bank report using a new Global Database
for Intergenerational Mobility112 that covers 96% of the world’s population. The report
looks at both economic and educational mobility. Both are much lower on average in
developing economies than high-income economies – 46 of the bottom 50 are
developing countries.113 Africa and South Asia, the regions with most of the world’s
poorest people, have the lowest average mobility. In some low-income and/or fragile
African countries, only 12% of today’s young adults have more education than their
parents.114 This shows that the prospects of too many people across the world are still
too closely tied to their parents’ social status rather than their own potential – and that
education is doing very little to unleash the opportunity and talent of the many.
Educational and economic mobility are most stagnant where substantial learning gaps
exist between students at differing ends of the socio-economic scale, i.e. where
education systems are highly unequal.115
Rich countries are not immune to slowing social mobility, which adds to a sense of
stalled chances for the average worker and their children. The US, for example, has
particularly poor social mobility (see Box 4). In the report A Broken Social Elevator?
the OECD documents a pattern of accelerated income inequality and stagnant social
As long as the schooling
offered in villages, towns
and cities across the
developing world is
segregated by class,
wealth, ethnicity, gender
or other signifiers of
privilege and exclusion, it
will cement inequality.
In some low-income
and/or fragile African
countries, only 12% of
today’s young adults have
more education than their
parents.
23
mobility across the world’s 24 richest countries since the 1990s. It contrasts the
prospects of younger generations with those of people born between 1955 and 1975,
when social mobility was a ‘reality’ and children from the poorest families often
exceeded their parents in wealth and education.116
Analyses of recent social mobility trends by both the OECD and the World Bank have
come to very similar conclusions: to help lower income inequality and enhance social
mobility, countries must invest in good-quality and equitable education. This is
especially important in contexts in which a good education is only available to those
who can pay for it, as this leads to opportunity being hoarded by the wealthy.
Researchers describe this phenomenon as the ‘commodification of opportunity’,
whereby instead of accessing the opportunities that come with a decent education by
right as a citizen, through a free public system, individuals must buy their way into
opportunity by purchasing services privately.117 This creates situations in which the
chance to enter more elite professions or earn higher incomes is passed on within
families, and inequality deepens with each generation.118
Box 4: Is the ‘American Dream’ over?
‘Life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according
to ability or achievement… regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.’
This is the definition of the ‘American Dream’ by James Truslow Adams in his book The
Epic of America, published in 1931.119
However, as the OECD has recently noted, in the United States: ‘this concept of equal
opportunities for all, however, has become a mere dream for some, while a privileged few
enjoy abundant opportunities to succeed in life.’120
Recent research shows that there can be an enormous gap between the public discourse
about equal opportunity and the reality of unequal access to education in the United
States. For instance, out of 100 children whose parents are among the bottom 10% of
income earners, only 20 to 30 go to college. However, that figure reaches 90 when parents
are within the top 10% of earners.121
This appears to be linked to increasing gaps in education: over the past three decades,
growing wage gaps between secondary school graduates and secondary school dropouts
has been a major source of rising inequality.122
Historical intergenerational social mobility in the United States has been shown to be very
strongly correlated to education. In one study of social mobility in the US, the strongest
predictors of social mobility later in life were learning and educational quality, both
individually and within the community in which a child lives (adjusted for the income of that
community). Secondary predictors of social mobility were based on inputs, spending and
class sizes.123
In other words, education was a major part of the American dream. It is now part of its
unravelling.
INEQUALITY IN SPENDING
Spending on equalizing education can have a long-term impact on inequality by
helping to provide all citizens with the same opportunities. In order to do this, it must
foster social mobility. World Bank data shows that, while greater social mobility is
associated with higher public spending, the focus must be on building equitable and
quality education systems.124 However, currently, too little financial resources are
The ‘commodification of
opportunity’ is when
individuals must buy their
way into opportunity by
purchasing services
privately, instead of
accessing the
opportunities that come
with a decent education by
right as a citizen, through
a free public system.
24
targeted at reaching the poorest and most marginalized students in many low-income
countries.
Education budgets are often configured in a way which favours the wealthiest and
most advantaged areas, or which fails to remedy disadvantage. On average, in lowincome countries, 46% of public education resources are allocated to educating the
most-educated 10% of students.125 This is partly the result of perverse spending
patterns in education: the very poorest children often end up having the least spent on
them because they frequently drop out of school after only a few short years, or
possibly don’t go to school at all. But it is also a result of significant shares of
education budgets being allocated to levels of education that are disproportionately
accessed by higher-income groups, i.e. tertiary level. This is most dramatic in some of
the world’s poorest countries with the greatest educational inequality: in Malawi,
Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Lesotho and Senegal, the richest 10% all get more than
50% of government-allocated education resources. In Malawi, the top 10% use 68% of
all public resources in education;126 close to a third of the country’s education budget
goes to tertiary education, yet figures show this is almost exclusively accessed by
wealthier families.127 A child from a family on the bottom three rungs of income –
middle, poor, and poorest – has a less than 1% chance of completing tertiary
education, while the richest children have a 20% chance.128
This is explained by the fact that it inherently costs more per pupil to fund tertiary
education than primary school. But it often also reflects a level of spending per pupil in
government primary or secondary schools that is far too low to provide quality for the
majority, combined with generous spending per student at tertiary level. In Malawi,
government spending on a tertiary student is over 225 times the amount spent on an
average primary school student.129 In Liberia, it is 1,000 times.130 Compare this to
OECD countries where this figure tends to be, on average, only about five times larger,
in contexts in which a far greater proportion of the less wealthy go on to higher
education.131 This is leading to perverse spending patterns, whereby a tertiary
education available to the elite is subsidized by the state, while poor children struggle
in underfunded classrooms too starved of resources to deliver quality, with poor
parents contributing to keep these underfunded schools afloat. This is manifestly
unfair. It is also self-evident that this is unlikely to unleash the equalizing potential of
education or boost social mobility.
In low-income countries,
46% of public education
resources are allocated to
educating the mosteducated 10% of students.
25
Figure 4: Percentage of public education resources going to the 10%
most-educated and 10% least-educated students
Source: Steer, L., and Smith, K. (2015). Financing Education: Opportunities for Global Action.
https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/FinancingForEducation2015.pdf
THE PRESSURE ON PUBLIC
EDUCATION
As public schooling has expanded in developing countries, education systems have
struggled to keep up with the magnitude of demand. Millions more children now go to
school, but too many governments have failed to make the investments required to
ensure quality education for all children. While many countries are making serious
efforts to prioritize education spending,132 on average lower-income countries are still
spending only half of what is needed per student to deliver a decent quality
education.133 Donors are failing to deliver the increased aid to help meet this financing
gap. As a result, many countries face a learning crisis: UNESCO estimates that 330
million children are in school but still not even learning basic skills.134 Education should
be equipping children with these and all the additional skills they need to lead healthy,
productive and meaningful lives. These are the skills that will help us to beat inequality.
In addition to the continuing crisis of educational access, this ‘learning crisis’ is one of
the most pressing educational challenges facing the world. According to one study, in
Uganda, when third grade students were asked to read a sentence such as ‘The name
of the dog is Puppy’, three-quarters did not understand what it said. The evidence
clearly shows the degree of underachievement in many public education systems. This
is unacceptable and requires urgent action.
The learning crisis has led some to question whether public education alone can
deliver the solution, with a number of highly influential actors advocating scaling up
On average, lower-income
countries are still spending
only half of what is needed
per student to deliver a
decent quality education.
26
private provision of education – often using public funds – to tackle the crisis.135
However, evidence suggests that such an approach is diverting attention from action
on equalizing education and undermining the task of increasing quality for all, while
doing little to address the learning crisis at scale.
Box 5: Chile’s disastrous experiment with vouchers
Probably the largest-scale example of a voucher system (a government subsidy which
allows parents to use public funds for private schooling) comes from Chile, where it was
first introduced in 1980 under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. This was part of a
reform that led to a massive redirection of government resources from public to private
education. Wealthier families were far more likely to make use of vouchers to subsidize
private education, and there was a rapid stratification of the system, with poorer students
congregating in the (now under-resourced) public sector. Nevertheless, these private
schools added ‘little or no academic value’ and, once students’ backgrounds were
accounted for, produced no better results than public schools.136
After the election of a more equity-focused government in the 1990s, further reforms led to
greater investment in education, some restrictions on the operation of voucher-funded
private schools, and other school reforms. However, the voucher system as a whole
remained in place.
The Inter-American Development Bank reports that public education has improved in Chile
in recent decades due to unrelated government reforms, including those related to the
school day, improved nutrition and pedagogical support.137
At the same time, there has been a huge downside in terms of ‘pronounced socioeconomic
stratification’138 and segregation of the school system.139 Middle class and wealthy
students increasingly ‘sorted’ themselves into private voucher schools, while poorer
students were left in public schools.140 This is decidedly not a neutral outcome; quite apart
from the obvious damage to social cohesion, it creates educational disadvantage for
poorer students. Those public schools in areas where the voucher programme had the
largest effect suffered the worst drops in performance, while even within private voucher
schools, the correlation between student backgrounds and test scores is extremely
strong.141 Chile’s experiment has thus resulted in massive inequality without producing
quality for the majority, and has been proven to have damaged social cohesion.142
Can the private sector address the learning crisis?
A number of prominent donors, including the World Bank, are promoting and funding
private sector approaches for education delivery in developing countries, and some
governments are pursuing them as a means of solving pressing challenges in public
education systems, including slow progress in improving learning. This has led to
increased private sector involvement in education, through the growth of independent
private schools, including commercial and for-profit chains, as well as the expansion of
public-private partnerships (PPPs).
The term ‘PPPs in education’ refers to the public funding of private schools for the
delivery of education. This can be through direct assistance to private schools – such
as per-student subsidies, block grants, or funding to private organizations to manage
public schools (sometimes called ‘supply-side’ PPPs) – or through ‘demand-side’
funding, such as vouchers, scholarships or cash transfers for students to use in
accessing private schools. In recent years, there has been a growing phenomenon of
‘low-fee private schools’ – private schools aimed at lower-income families in poor
27
countries, often with a profit orientation – and PPPs that partner with such schools to
deliver education.
These strategies are often presented as part of a ‘school choice’ agenda to give
students the choice of opting out of local public options so they can access (it is
assumed) a better education in private schools. These better-performing schools, it is
envisaged, will bring competition into education systems, with the idea being that the
cumulative effect of such choices on the education system will drive up quality across
the sector, while improving efficiency and accountability.
Evidence is often cited of the better-quality education provided by private schools in
developing countries to underpin these arguments. However, recent evidence casts
doubt on the claim that privately-run schools offer inherently better-quality education.
Much of the evidence cited to support the claims that private schools offer inherently
better-quality schooling tend to conflate the effects of private schools themselves with
the effects of the type of students who enrol in private schools. This is because private
schools may skim off the relatively higher-income students who are easier and most
profitable to teach, which often leads to better testing results in private schools.
One study in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda exemplifies the role of social advantage for
wealthier children. Even comparing richer students in government schools with poorer
children in private schools, the study shows richer children do better than poorer
students in all environments (see Figure 5).143 This highlights the importance of
understanding the conditions under which children, whether rich or poor, can learn in
government schools and acting to redress what is holding poor children back.
Figure 5: Learning outcomes for richer and poorer children in
government schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
Source: Taken from Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within
Countries to Achieve Global Convergence in Learning. University of Cambridge.
https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.7673
Much of the evidence cited
to support the claims that
private schools offer
inherently better-quality
schooling tend to conflate
the effects of private
schools themselves with
the effects of the type of
students who enrol in
private schools.
28
Ultimately, as the World Bank’s World Development Report 2018 points out, there is no
consistent evidence that private schools deliver better learning outcomes. Citing
comparisons across 40 countries that seek to adjust for differences in student
characteristics, it concludes that there is ‘no private school advantage’ in the vast
majority of countries145 once social advantages (family income, literate parents, better
nutrition, etc.) are considered. Analysis from across OECD countries backs this up: if
public schools draw from the same population as private schools, any differences
vanish.146
Moreover, the relatively lower-income children who do attend ‘low-fee’ schools are
receiving an education explicitly designed to be cheap, and which is often of
observably poor quality.147 Low-fee schools keep costs down by using strategies that
impact negatively on education quality, such as reliance on unqualified, poorly trained
teachers who are paid extremely low wages, and insufficient investment in school
facilities and other resources that promote learning. This raises serious questions
about the quality of education on offer.148 A 2017 preliminary evaluation of a PPP
programme in Liberia, which handed over public schools to private operators including
low-fee chains, found that one for-profit school operator, Bridge International
Academies, achieved modest improvements in learning. But in order to do this, it
expelled children to achieve reductions in class sizes, spent more than 13 times the
per-pupil funding in public schools, and was allocated additional teachers as well as its
first choice of better-trained teachers.149 These findings call into question claims of
better quality and cost-effectiveness in these PPP schools.
Privatization of education drives inequality
When schools charge fees to parents, no matter how small, they are likely to be
unaffordable for the poorest families.150 In Ghana for example, a major low-fee private
school chain targeting poor people (Omega Schools) charges fees that are equivalent
to 40% of the income of the poorest families per child.151 In Senegal, only 8% of private
secondary school students come from households whose expenditure per capita is
below the national median – suggesting that fees are unaffordable for poorer
families.152 Such unaffordable fees mean that families have to make huge sacrifices
with other basic necessities. In some cases, this can lead to splitting families, as
parents choose to invest their meagre incomes in some children and not others – with
girls and children with disabilities more likely to be left out.153
Box 6: PPPs in Pakistan
Pakistan has some of the largest educational gaps globally in terms of wealth and gender,
especially for a country of its income level. With 24 million children out of school, and only
15% of poor rural girls completing primary school,154 Pakistan has some of the lowest
public spending levels in the world. Almost all wealthier parents send their children to
private schools, while the poorest students struggle in crumbling public schools. With such
pre-existing inequalities, and an underfunded and underachieving public system, any
prospective educational reforms must be assessed for their likely impact on equity, with a
focus on those most likely to be left out – girls and the poorest children – and building a
system-wide approach to addressing their needs.
‘There is no consistent
evidence that private
schools deliver better
learning outcomes than
public schools, or the
opposite.’
World Development
Report 2018, the World
Bank144
In Ghana for example, a
major low-fee private
school chain targeting
poor people (Omega
Schools) charges fees that
are equivalent to 40% of
the income of the poorest
families per child.
29
Oxfam recently commissioned research on a World Bank-funded education PPP
programme in Punjab province administered by the Punjab Education Foundation, which
provides public funding to low-fee private schools to deliver education. The study’s findings
raise serious concerns about equity and access for marginalized populations in the PPP
schools, as well as educational quality and accountability challenges. School
principals/owners in the sampled schools reported that:
• Very few children in their schools were previously out-of-school (only 1.3 percent);
• Gender parity was not being achieved in most of the schools sampled; among co-ed
schools in the sample, 75 percent had more boys than girls;
• Very few children with disabilities were accessing the schools in the sample. Most
schools were not wheelchair-accessible and none had a special needs teacher;
• Non-fee expenditures (such as uniforms, meals, books, transportation) were a
significant financial barrier to access for the poorest children. The costs for one child
could represent half the income of a parent living at the poverty line; and
• Schools were actively selecting and screening out children based on their academic
ability, including through admissions screening tests.
The findings shed light on the unintended consequences of a high-stakes ‘reward and
sanction’ incentive model, in which payment to schools is determined by their performance
on a standardized test. The findings suggest that this approach is leading schools to
employ student screening, selection and exclusion techniques in order to boost test scores,
and creates disincentives for schools to cater to the poorest and most marginalized
children and children with disabilities, who may be less likely to perform well on
standardized tests. In addition, the findings raise questions about the quality of education
and teaching being provided in the low-resource private schools in the programme. The
schools in the sample employed an underqualified teacher workforce, with very limited
access to training; teachers were predominantly female, with average reported salaries
less than half the minimum wage, suggesting that the system relies on gender inequalities
in the labour market.155
Oxfam is currently conducting research into Sindh Education Foundation, a similar PPP in
the Sindh province.
A striking body of evidence is accumulating on the negative impact of educational
policies focused on large-scale private sector involvement on equity, gender equality
and poverty, including from Chile (see Box 5), Peru,156 El Salvador157 and
Colombia.158 Recent research comparing approaches in Finland, Sweden, the USA,
Canada, Chile and Cuba159 found that ‘privatizing education [including outsourcing] has
accompanied lower and/or more disparate student performance’.
Academic research has also echoed concerns about the equity impacts of PPPs in
education service delivery. For example, a recent literature review has found that:
‘PPPs seem to be especially problematic in terms of education inequalities,
inclusion, and school segregation. This is due to the fact that the competitive
environment that many PPP contracts generate incentivizes schools to try to
select the best students, as well as to discriminate against those students less
academically skilled or with special needs or behavioural issues’.160
Oxfam’s own research has raised serious equity and quality concerns about a PPP
programme in Punjab, Pakistan, which has often been promoted as a success story by
the World Bank and other donors (see Box 6).
There are particular concerns about negative impacts on girls’ education. A review of
literature on private schools in less-developed countries found that private schooling is
30
not equally accessed by boys and girls.161 Several country-level studies have also
shown that girls are disadvantaged when families decide whether or not to send a child
to private school. Boys are more likely to be seen as a ‘safe investment’ in patriarchal
societies in which girls are not expected to secure decent work, or are likely to be
married off to another family.162
Little rigorous research has assessed the cumulative effects of private schooling on the
long-term health of the public-school system. Even if the expansion of private
schooling were to bring short-term benefits, it can undermine the political constituency
for effective public schooling in the longer term. For example, low-fee private schools
keep costs low in large part by hiring underqualified teachers on short-term contracts
paying poverty wages, sometimes below the minimum wage, which could lead to the
creation of an untrained teacher workforce.163 Moreover, where such schools are
widely promoted, they displace efforts and funding to expand public education, leaving
limited alternatives for those children who are left behind.164
The lessons from around the world could not be clearer: pushing private or marketbased alternatives to a public education system creates educational segregation and
exacerbates educational inequalities, and thus wider social inequalities. It supports
more advantaged students at the expense of those who most need support. This is a
dangerous diversion from the real task of building greater equality into education
systems.
Kolind Central School in Kolind, Denmark. Photo credit: Kissen Møller Hansen.
Girls are disadvantaged
when families decide
whether or not to send a
child to private school.
Boys are more likely to be
seen as a ‘safe
investment’ in patriarchal
societies in which girls are
not expected to secure
decent work, or are likely
to be married off to
another family.
Pushing private or marketbased alternatives to a
public education system
creates educational
segregation and
exacerbates educational
inequalities, and thus
wider social inequalities.
31
4 DELIVERING QUALITY AND
EQUALITY
The fact that the majority of education systems in developing countries are highly
unequal, and that most public schools tend to struggle with issues of quality, is not an
accident. It is the result of policy failures. Currently, many education systems do not
have the right level of investment, and insufficient attention is given to supporting
poorer children to learn.
In 2014, Oxfam brought together significant evidence to show that bad policy choices
in public education, and the privatization of services, are increasing inequality.
Conversely, public services work hardest to fight inequality when governments take
appropriate policy solutions, i.e. providing free high-quality public services for all.165 If
paid for by fair taxation, this is one of the most powerful things a government can do to
reduce the gap between rich and ordinary people.
In education, the appropriate policy solutions include using public funds to provide
high-quality public education that is free, universally available, accountable to
communities, inclusive and subject to public oversight. It must pay attention to helping
empower women and tackle gender inequalities. It should be funded through fair taxes
invested at levels sufficient to ensure quality for all, as a down payment on the future of
a nation.
The remainder of this report demonstrates, using evidence from across the world, how
different types of policy solutions lead to very different outcomes.
We have a chance to correct the lottery of birth through education. Addressing the
combined challenge of expanding educational access together with raising learning for
all children and young people, regardless of their background, must remain a top
priority for governments.
UNIVERSALIZING AND EQUALIZING
BASIC EDUCATION
In recent decades, public education in developing countries has delivered remarkable
results in a very short space of time. Primary school enrolment is now almost universal,
with as many girls enrolling as boys – a huge challenge only a generation or so ago.166
However, there is still much to do. Millions have been left behind both inside and
outside the classroom, with progress stubbornly stuck for those children born on the
bottom rungs of society.167
The ambition articulated in SDG 4 is that, within the next generation, all girls and boys
should complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. Even
with eyes firmly on this goal, progress is currently painfully slow. At present rates, it
could be another 100 years before all girls in sub-Saharan Africa have the opportunity
to complete a full 12 years of education as promised.168
At present rates, it could
be another 100 years
before all girls in subSaharan Africa have the
opportunity to complete a
full 12 years of education
as promised.
32
It is crucial for governments to invest in expanding education upwards to secondary
level, especially for girls, who tend to drop out at higher rates than boys at secondary
level. However, focus must also be kept on ensuring that those who fail to complete
primary school are not left behind, as well as supporting the learning of the poorest
students.
Universalizing access, with a focus on equalizing education, also requires attention
downwards – to the very early years of schooling. This is important because before
they even set foot in school, very young children in poor families display significantly
differing cognitive and non-cognitive abilities to their wealthier peers (see Box 7).169 In
a range of rich and developing countries, children from poor households lag behind
their more affluent peers by age three, with gaps widening as they grow.170 Investment
in early childhood education, especially pre-primary, can help overcome these gaps.
Box 7: The poorest start school with a disadvantage
Recent scientific evidence shows striking inequalities in cognitive ability from a very young
age between children from poor families and their wealthier peers.171 Before they even
arrive at school, children from poorer families are at a remarkable disadvantage, which is
hard to overcome. These pre-existing cognitive gaps, and the resulting reduced levels of
learning in the early years, remain the most important influence on later achievement in
education, even when children’s background characteristics are taken into account,
including their poverty status, gender and their parents’ education. In fact, this is second
only to poverty status in explaining progress in education and levels of learning.172
Evidence also suggests that those who cannot read in the early grades fall behind and
rarely catch up.173 Young people from poor households who are not learning at eight years
old are very unlikely to access higher education.174 Therefore, investing in the poorest
children when they are very young is important for more equal educational outcomes.
In developing countries, the problem is compounded by high levels of illness and
malnutrition, which are strongly associated with cognitive gaps in children. Given that
around a third of children under five are chronically malnourished in low- and middle
income countries,175 these children arrive at school already severely disadvantaged.176
There is substantial evidence from developed countries,177 and a growing body of research
from low- and lower-middle-income countries,178 demonstrating that early childhood
education aimed at poor children, especially girls, is key to building greater equality into
education. In Brazil, for instance, girls from low-income households who attended
preschool are twice as likely to reach fifth grade and three times more likely to reach eighth
grade than their peers who did not attend preschool.179
PUBLIC FIRST
As discussed in the previous section, approaches that expand the role of private and
commercial schools in education systems have been shown to deepen inequalities in
education, widening the gaps between those with privilege and those who are
excluded. Instead, governments must devote themselves to the essential task of
developing high-quality public education for all children and youth.
Under international human rights law,180 governments are responsible for guaranteeing
the right to education, regardless of provider; however, states are also regarded as
having principal responsibility for the direct provision of education in most
circumstances. Thus, states have an obligation to both develop quality public
In Brazil, girls from lowincome households who
attended preschool are
twice as likely to reach fifth
grade and three times
more likely to reach eighth
grade than their peers who
did not attend preschool.
33
education provision, and regulate and monitor private education institutions.181 This
requires states to ensure that private providers meet minimum standards, and that
educational freedoms do not lead to extreme disparities of educational opportunity for
some groups in society.182 Managing the necessary regulatory framework to achieve
this is difficult. This led the World Bank to conclude that ‘governments may deem it
more straightforward to provide quality education than to regulate a disparate collection
of providers that may not have the same objectives’.183 In most cases, it is likely to be
easier to focus on increasing quality in public provision, not least as managing private
sector providers properly often raises the same technical and political barriers that
education systems face more generally. The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to
education has stated that the rapid growth of private and commercial actors in
education ‘threaten[s] the implementation of the right to education for all and
Sustainable Development Goal 4’.184
The role of international aid should be to target pro-poor and poverty reducing
initiatives. Thus, the enthusiasm shown by some major donors for private education
should be questioned. Oxfam research has found that the World Bank has been
increasingly promoting education PPPs through its lending and policy advice to
governments,185 and another recent study found it has scaled up its direct investments
in for-profit, fee-charging, private primary and secondary schools through the
International Finance Corporation.186 Instead, states should be supported to raise the
quality of public education as a top priority.
The enthusiasm for private sector approaches in education also suggests a dangerous
collective amnesia about the lessons of the past on what has been achieved through
the provision of fee-free and public education.187 In many countries there is a need to
challenge the pessimism, and the devastating poverty of ambition, about the ability of
the public sector to achieve quality public education for all. Decades of government
investment in public education lies at the heart of the high standards and universal
provision in rich countries. Just a century ago, no country provided universal basic
education for all its citizens; now, education is taken for granted as a core responsibility
of the state, and the parameters of universal provision have progressively expanded. In
developing countries, enrolment has risen dramatically, and today there are 50 million
more children in school than in 2000.188 Even in the midst of a widely-acknowledged
learning crisis, data from 31 countries shows an additional 15 million children are now
learning at least basic skills in mathematics.189
These successes have been the result of government commitments and public
provision.
Box 8: Weak states leave an educational void in emergency situations
A quarter of the world’s children live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, with 50
million forcibly displaced from their homes as a result.190 More than one-third of out-of
school children and adolescents are living in contexts affected by an emergency or conflict.
Children in these countries are 30% less likely to complete primary school, and 50% less
likely to complete lower secondary school.191 Conflict-affected countries show particularly
worrying trends: they have higher dropout rates, lower completion rates, higher gender
disparities and lower literacy levels.192
More than one-third of outof-school children and
adolescents are living in
contexts affected by an
emergency or conflict.
Children in these countries
are 30% less likely to
complete primary school,
and 50% less likely to
complete lower secondary
school.
34
Often by definition in these situations, state capacity and bureaucratic functions can be
disrupted, making tasks such as the delivery of public education a particular challenge.
There is still a need for more evidence on the role and impact of private actors in delivering
education in such contexts, but the evidence available does suggest a few themes.
While some private provision may be a necessary stop-gap, this must be part of a coherent
plan to (re)build government capacity to provide public education and regulate the
education system as a whole. Examples such as the Syrian refugee situation show the
danger of proliferating private providers stepping in. Problems have been shown to include
inefficiency arising from poor co-ordination, significant inequity, very poor quality,
undemocratic decision making and exploitative profiteering.193 Both donors and private
actors should be actively thinking about long-term sustainability and how to support greater
state capacity.
Emergencies, conflicts and political instability create threats to children’s ability to go to
school. Displacement due to conflict or disasters often places children in harm’s way, and
they may witness the destruction of their homes, schools and their families’ livelihoods.
Girls are often the worst impacted: displaced girls are two-and-a-half times more likely than
displaced boys to be out of school.194
Emergencies, including sudden-onset emergencies, are often used as an opportunity for
massive expansion of private provision, in the form of ‘disaster capitalism’, in which
opportunistic businesses seize openings created by disasters.
The same kind of opportunism can arguably also be seen even in countries with strong
states: for example, in the US, the conversion of the whole New Orleans school district to
privately run charter schools after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused thousands of
experienced teachers and other school personnel to be dismissed from their jobs.195
Research from Tulane University in 2017 reported that the charter system remains highly
segregated by race and economic status.196
Children on their way to school in Jalawla, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, after the town was retaken from ISIS.
Photo credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith.
35
Fee-free basic education
In 2015, 180 governments agreed the Education 2030 Framework for Action,
committing them to provide 12 years of free and compulsory education by 2030.
However, fewer than half of countries report currently offering 12 years of free
education, and only just over half report at least 10 years. More than one-quarter of
countries do not report providing any free secondary education at all; only four in 10
African countries do so.197
However, in order to be universal and equal, education must be free. Experiments over
the last 50 years have repeatedly demonstrated that fees act as a brake on education
for the poorest students. From the 1960s, free education spread around the world –
particularly in newly-independent African countries – and led to massive expansion in
school enrolment. In Kenya, for example, when early grade fees were abolished in
1974, enrolment in first grade nearly tripled.198 But, in the 1980s, as donors and
creditors put pressure on social spending – including requirements for cuts – many aiddependent countries re-introduced school fees, and saw the gains in enrolment
reversed.199, 200 From 1990 to 1999, the number of out-of-school children in low-income
countries grew, with notable increases in sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern and SouthEast Asia.201
The fact that ‘user fees in education were working to stifle demand, particularly for the
poorest and most vulnerable children’ was described by the World Bank and UNICEF
in 2009 as a ‘hard lesson’ that was crucial to ‘the success or failure of current efforts to
achieve education for all’.202 They established the School Fee Abolition Initiative
precisely to ensure that this lesson was implemented. From the late 1990s into the
2000s, low-income countries again worked to abolish school fees, and again saw
enrolment rise rapidly: the number of out-of-school children of primary school age in
low-income countries fell by nearly 40% between 1999 and 2009, even as populations
grew.203
The message is clear: government investment in free universal public education is
crucial for building equality because it gives every child a fair chance, not just those
who can afford to pay.
The same lessons apply to secondary education. The persistence of fees at secondary
level is one of the greatest educational challenges facing many developing countries.
There is almost certainly a huge untapped reservoir of demand in many countries. In
Ghana, after fees for senior high school (upper secondary) were dropped in September
2017, 90,000 more students flooded through the school doors at the start of the new
academic year.204 In Ethiopia, one study estimated that if secondary schooling was
completely fee-free, attendance rates would increase by 85% for the poorest students,
and 47% for the second-poorest quintiles.205
Remedying the educational disadvantage for girls, particularly those from poor families,
requires education that is freely and easily accessible to all. It is likely that a reduction
in school fees at secondary level would have a particular equality-enhancing impact on
gender and economic inequality. For example, Namibia has consistently reduced
inequality in the last two decades, with free secondary education playing a significant
role in this, especially for women and girls.206
Finally, even when school tuition is ostensibly ‘free’, formal and informal fees and
charges can impose a severe financial barrier for the poorest pupils. Collectively, these
Experiments over the last
50 years have repeatedly
demonstrated that fees act
as a brake on education
for the poorest students.
In Ghana, after fees for
senior high school (upper
secondary) were dropped
in September 2017,
90,000 more students
flooded through the school
doors at the start of the
new academic year.
36
fees and additional charges in private and public schools contribute to a situation in
which, according to a recent UNESCO survey of 50 countries, households bear 34% of
total education expenditure in middle-income countries and 49% in low-income
countries.207 To overcome inequality, education must be genuinely free.
Box 9: Using fees to make up for low government spending in Uganda
In Uganda, there is a law mandating that primary schooling be free and compulsory.
However, data on household expenditures from UNESCO shows that families’
contributions towards schooling are unsustainably high, with more than half of total
spending on primary education and around three-quarters of the funds at secondary level
paid by families out of their own pockets.208
The poorest families struggle the most, as they must spend disproportionally more on
tuition fees relative to their incomes. The poorest quintile has only 1.5% of the wealth of the
top quintile, but its spending on education is about 4.5% of what the wealthiest quintile
spends. It has been estimated that lowering out-of-pocket household expenditures on
education could approximately double current secondary school attendance.209
This situation must be seen in the context of very low government spending: Uganda has
one of the lowest government spending levels on education of any sub-Saharan African
government. In other words, families are making up for insufficient government funding.210
In this context, poor-quality, ‘low-fee’ private schools have flourished in Uganda – often
costing little more than government schools when indirect fees are taken into account. The
Ugandan government needs to increase public spending and stop allowing this bargain
basement education to fill in the cracks left by insufficient public funds.211
In addition, some schools have received criticism in Uganda for not reaching minimum
standards. In 2016, Bridge International Academies – one of the biggest chains of for-profit
schools in the world – was ordered to close 63 schools in Uganda because of low
standards in education and sanitation.212 Poor infrastructure and unsanitary conditions,
under-prepared teachers reading lessons from a script, and an absence of learning and
other materials promised by Bridge have all come under fierce criticism from civil
society.213 In spite of being ordered to close by the Ministry of Education, Bridge continued
to operate a number of unregistered schools, leading to a High Court intervention
upholding the decision of the Ministry to close them.214
Equalizing education
There is solid evidence that focusing on making education more equal as an explicit
goal of education policy can lead to improving educational outcomes across the
board.215 In Korea and Japan, all students make it over the lowest threshold of
learning.216 In addition, these governments made rapid progress on delivering both
quality and equity in a short space of time, at similar levels of income to many other
developing countries today.217 Vietnam has showed similar and promising results (see
Box 18).
Finland – long the ‘poster child’ for equity in education – set out on substantial
education reforms in the 1970s that are credited with its good performance now. The
system was designed around giving every child the same opportunity to learn as an
instrument to even out social inequality.218 More recently, Estonia has been
demonstrating similar results (see Box 10).
What marks these countries out is that they have implemented programmes
specifically designed to promote equitable learning, including investing in skilled
In Uganda, more than half
of total spending on
primary education and
around three-quarters of
the funds at secondary
level paid by families out
of their own pockets.
37
teachers, early on in their efforts to universalize education for all. These countries, and
other evidence, show that promoting equity in education and supporting disadvantaged
students help to increase quality and learning across the board.219 Vietnam has shown
impressive progress through, among other efforts, investment in early childhood
development as well as teacher recruitment and training. As a result, Vietnamese 15-
year-olds recently performed at the same level on international tests as those in
Germany (box 18).220
All strategies aiming to support marginalized children to go to school must also focus
on the factors that keep girls out of school. This requires greater gender sensitivity in
learning materials and teaching methods, and making sure that all schools have toilets
for girls. Where necessary, it may require stipends to keep girls in school, especially at
secondary level, where the gender disadvantage is often most acute.
Box 10: Focusing on equality as well as quality in Estonia
Educators have long flocked to Finland to discover its magic formula. It is now well
established that Finland’s simultaneous policy focus on equity and quality has been the key
to its success. By focusing on the poorest people and those least likely to succeed,
Finland’s government has built an equitable educational system. This has led to high
performance for all Finnish children, and very low levels of educational inequality.221
However, neighbouring Estonia has not aroused the same degree of interest. It should –
for very similar reasons. Estonia has improved the quality of its education system by
similarly focusing on equity.
In 2015, Estonia’s 15-year-old boys came top in Europe and third in the world for
performance in science. The number of top achievers who can solve extremely
complicated tasks is high – standing at 13.5%, while the OECD average is 8%.222 Students
also score highly for problem-solving and teamwork, and are sixth in the world for reading
ability.223 Crucially, Estonia also had the smallest number of weak performers in Europe,
and overall has less than half as many low performers compared with the global
average.224 Students in the lowest income quartile in Estonia scored about as well as
American students in the second-highest income quartile.225
This has been managed against a backdrop of students coming from diverse backgrounds.
A fifth of Estonia’s students come from families that still speak Russian at home – a group
that has historically lagged behind their native-speaking counterparts. This is important, as
many have rejected the applicability of the Finnish school system to other contexts, given
the relatively homogenous population in Finland.
Of course, test results alone are an inadequate measure of quality, but they do highlight
interesting lessons about the ‘success’ of both Finland and Estonia in improving their
system for the lowest performers, while simultaneously raising standards for all. Of course,
there are many other factors that may contribute to Estonia’s success beyond its focus on
equity: education continues to be highly valued; teachers have relatively significant
autonomy and are highly trained; early childhood education is free from 18 months (when
paid maternity or paternity leave ends); and everyone gets free lunch.
DELIVERING QUALITY FOR ALL
The learning crisis exists, at least in part, because there has been a failure to scale up
financing and capacity to keep pace with the growing demand. Education must be
adequately funded and properly planned to avoid the risk of getting millions more
Vietnam has shown
impressive progress
through, among other
efforts, investment in early
childhood development as
well as teacher
recruitment and training.
As a result, Vietnamese
15-year-olds recently
performed at the same
level on international tests
as those in Germany.
38
children into schools without the facilities, materials and, crucially, teachers that they
need.
Currently, there is chronic underfunding of public education in most developing
countries. For example, there is a well-established ratio of trained teachers to students
that is required to ensure learning in the classroom. If financing for basic education is
insufficient to meet these basic requirements, quality (and learning) will always suffer.
It is estimated that the minimum cost to deliver basic quality primary education in lowincome countries is $200 per student; however, on average, current spending is only
$70 per pupil.226
But achieving quality also requires a policy focus on what is taught, how it is taught, by
whom it is taught, and what are valued as outcomes. Evidence from countries that
have made progress in delivering quality education in a short space of time shows that
they have a number of commonalities:227
• Their education systems are adequately resourced, with investment into a
professional teaching force that can teach diverse learners.
• They build high-quality curricula; in many countries, these must focus on supporting
children to learn in their own languages.
• They build systems with strong oversight and public accountability.
We outline the evidence in each of these areas below.
High-quality teachers
In many respects, the learning crisis is a teaching crisis. An empowered and
professionally trained teacher is the biggest contributor to ensuring quality in
education.229 For instance, a meta-analysis of randomized experiments in developing
countries estimates that teacher training and class sizes have the greatest impact on
learning.230 However, there is an acute shortage of professionally trained teachers in
most developing countries. A lack of investment in training and retaining a high-quality
teaching force has had a devastating impact on educational quality in many countries.
During the vast expansion in access in most developing countries, teacher education
was neglected.231 As a result, fewer than three-quarters of teachers are trained to any
accepted national standard.232 Thus, in some contexts, teachers are unable to perform
the type of numeracy and literacy tasks for which they are meant to be preparing their
students. For example, in Kenya, sixth grade teachers scored only 61% on tests of
sixth grade mathematics material.233 In far too many contexts, teachers are not able to
adapt to the challenges they face, such as the large numbers of first-generation
learners entering the classroom from a wide diversity of backgrounds.
The next wave of expansion at the secondary level in many countries could be even
more challenging, as it requires trained teachers with degree-level subject knowledge.
The pace of growth in recruitment required for the highest-need countries is
considerable. For instance, both Rwanda and Uganda would need to double current
recruitment rates: this challenge is made all the greater by the low proportion of adults
with a secondary school education.234 Globally, to ensure universal school enrolment
by 2030, it is estimated that an additional 24.4 million primary school teachers and 44.4
million secondary school teachers are needed.235
It is estimated that the
minimum cost to deliver
basic quality primary
education in low-income
countries is $200 per
student; however, on
average, current spending
is only $70 per pupil.
‘No one has yet realized
the wealth of sympathy,
the kindness and
generosity hidden in the
soul of a child. The effort
of every true education
should be to unlock that
treasure.’
Emma Goldman,
political activist and
author228
In Kenya, sixth grade
teachers scored only 61%
on tests of sixth grade
mathematics material.
39
All teachers – new recruits as well as those already in classrooms – need to be welltrained, have access to ongoing training, and be treated as professionals, with decent
pay and conditions. Better training could turn around learning in many countries. For
example, in Liberia, an intervention that included providing in-service training to
teachers to support weak learners resulted in a 130% increase in children’s reading
comprehension scores, with higher impacts on girls.236
Raising quality and achievement in public schools depends on professionalizing
teachers. Once qualified, the most experienced teachers need to be deployed to the
most disadvantaged areas. In too many countries, the opposite is currently true:
wealthier children are more likely to be taught by better prepared teachers. In Kenya,
46% of wealthier children have a teacher with some form of qualification, compared to
29% of poorer children. In Tanzania, 70% of wealthier children have a teacher with at
least three years of experience, in comparison with 55% of the poorest.237
Figure 6: Global number of teachers (in millions) required to meet SDG 4
by 2030 in five-year intervals
Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics. (2014). The World Needs Almost 69 Million New Teachers to Reach
The 2030 Education Goals. Factsheet No. 39. UNESCO. Available at:
http://uis.unesco.org/en/document/world-needs-almost-69-million-new-teachers-reach-2030-education-goals
In Liberia, an intervention
that included providing inservice training to
teachers to support weak
learners resulted in a
130% increase in
children’s reading
comprehension scores,
with higher impacts on
girls.
40
Box 11: Strategies for improving teachers’ time in classrooms
Teacher absenteeism receives a lot of attention in many countries, but the solutions
appear to be largely required at a system-wide level, rather than on the level of individual
recrimination of teachers. Teachers may stop going to work because they have not
received their pay for months, for example, or because they must travel and wait to receive
salaries, or because they do not have sufficient training or professional development
support.238
Recent research from UNESCO shows that in many developing countries teachers are
often not in school or teaching because they are expected to perform non-teaching tasks
(such as fundraising or administration); need to travel to receive pay or attend training
courses (which could have been delivered locally); or are subject to poor or non-existent
management and supervision.239 In very poor communities that lack literate professionals,
secondary school teachers are often expected to perform a variety of other civic and
political tasks, such as monitoring local elections, or invigilating and marking primary
school exams. As UNESCO stated in 2017, ‘a closer look shows that this is often a
problem of weak systems or teacher management’.240
For instance, in Senegal in 2014, schools were closed for 50 out of 188 official school
days, for a variety of reasons. However, systemic issues outside of teachers’ control cause
most teacher absenteeism in Senegal. Only 12 of the 80 missed school days were due to
individual teacher absence.241
Most lost days reflected systemic factors, such as school closure for weather damage,
renovations or wider planning issues.
Of course, as in all professions, there are teachers who are demotivated or uncommitted,
or are simply not good at their job; the right course of action is to manage them more
effectively. The number of hours of instructional time has been shown to be effective in
improving teaching quality and learning.242
High-quality curricula
In addition to improving the quality of the teaching workforce, research suggests an
appropriate curriculum, taught at the right pace and in an appropriate language of
instruction, is also critical.243 In many contexts, the pace of classroom instruction is
determined by the need to cover an overly ambitious curriculum, rather than by the
pace of student learning.244 Often curricula represent a dominant culture or language –
or at the very least have little relevance to the lives of children – and in too many
countries have been designed by, and for, elites (see Box 12).245
As the World Bank World Development report states, education systems around the
world expect students to acquire foundational skills such as reading by grades 1 or 2;
by third grade, children are expected to ‘read to learn’ in most public education
systems. This means that those who are not yet able to read get left further behind.246
As such, the system caters mainly to the students in the top 10% of achievers, who are
the only ones able to keep pace with the curriculum, while the bottom 10% could be
spending several years in school with little benefit in terms of their learning.247
Learning in Indian schools appears to stagnate over the school grades, while in
Vietnam, children’s learning has generally improved (though with some exceptions).
Comparing the two countries by drawing on data from Oxford University’s Young Lives
study, it was found that mathematics learning in Vietnam ‘keeps pace’ with a
curriculum, which was appropriate for different learning needs, and teachers were well
trained enough to adapt lessons to the pace of individual classrooms.248
Research from UNESCO
shows that in many
developing countries
teachers are often not in
school or teaching
because they are
expected to perform nonteaching tasks (such as
fundraising or
administration); need to
travel to receive pay or
attend training courses
(which could have been
delivered locally); or are
subject to poor or nonexistent management and
supervision.
41
Most countries need to also significantly improve the gender-sensitivity of education.
Materials and teaching tend to rely on outdated gender roles: textbooks in many
developing countries show women to be greatly underrepresented; men and women
are associated with certain personal traits, and in stereotyped roles.249 Yet ensuring
gender equality is reflected in teaching and learning materials across the education
system ‘may represent the strongest source of counter messages to traditional norms
learned in the family, community, and national media’.250
More generally, curricula must change to reflect 21st-century demands on education
systems and the priorities of the SDGs. Ultimately, a new emphasis on curriculum
development and higher-order skills is needed, along with a focus on socio-emotional
skills such as team work and perseverance. Such skills have also been shown to be
the catalyst of development,251 and are increasingly important as the world moves
towards the ‘fourth industrial revolution’.252
Box 12: Are education standards captured by powerful elites in developing
countries?
In many developing countries, elite groups develop education systems, instructional
materials and the language of instruction targeted at their own children.253 This elite focus
further exacerbates inequalities as children progress, making classes increasingly
irrelevant to a growing number of students who have yet to master the basics, and so do
not have the foundations for further learning.254 In India, for instance, the curriculum is and
always has been linked to an elite understanding of schooling; this has been shown to be
inappropriate for the majority of learner needs.255
When discussing the incoherence in many education systems, the World Bank has stated:
‘…misalignments aren’t random. Because of these competing interests, the choice of a
particular policy is rarely determined by whether it improves learning’. When discussing the
lack of learning in many public education systems, it has stated: ‘given these [powerful]
interests, it should come as no surprise that little learning often results’.256
Lower-income parents are not usually organized to participate in debates at the system
level, and may lack knowledge of the potential gains from different policies. Of course,
there is also often a power asymmetry between poor (frequently illiterate) parents and
those who set educational standards. By contrast, richer and wealthier families tend to be
better organized to act collectively and support education reforms in their favour. This is
often most starkly visible in countries in their choice of public spending on education: in
most developing countries, public education expenditure tends to favour wealthier, more
powerful groups, as discussed previously in this report.257
Far too many children are entering classrooms unable to understand their teachers’
words or the materials they are given because the language used in their schools is
different from the language used in their homes. It is estimated that as many as 40% of
the world’s school-going people may be being taught in a language other than their
mother tongue.258 In most sub-Saharan African countries, this is substantially higher –
according to some estimates as high as 90%.259 This has been strongly linked to a lack
of learning.260 In multi-ethnic societies, imposing a dominant language through a
school system is often part of a legacy of wider social and cultural inequality and
marginalization of non-dominant groups.
A number of studies have shown how damaging this is in education.261 Often, it can
take until the third or fourth grade for children to start to understand the language of
tuition, after which learning takes place.262
Materials and teaching
tend to rely on outdated
gender roles: textbooks in
many developing countries
show women to be greatly
underrepresented; men
and women are
associated with certain
personal traits, and in
stereotyped roles.
It is estimated that as
many as 40% of the
world’s school-going
people may be being
taught in a language other
than their mother tongue.
42
It is now well-established that children who receive schooling in their mother tongue in
early grades have better learning outcomes overall and, in particular, significantly
better literacy levels.263 This process should be backed by a culturally contextualized
curriculum with appropriate and adequate materials. The lack of such materials has a
hugely negative effect on children’s learning. At the same time, teachers need to be
equipped to teach multilingual curricula. Since many parents often prefer instruction in
colonial languages, the benefits need to be communicated to them to gain their
support.264
Figure 7: Mother-tongue learning can help children to learn the basics
Source: Taken from the 2018 World Development Report, using data from the Education Commission. World
Bank. (2018). World Development Report 2018. Learning to Realize Education’s Promise.
https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018
Box 13: Over-reliance on high-stakes testing does little to improve real quality
There is currently a strong global bias towards testing of students and teachers to improve
accountability for education outcomes, combining external evaluation with often ambitious
targets. Yet these ‘high-stakes’ examinations tend to provide very little insight to improve
learning and teaching, and have been shown to encourage ‘teaching to the test’ in the US,
while restricting the curriculum and lowering education quality by focusing too much on
narrowly-defined learning outcomes.265
Some forms of assessment can be useful as a catalyst for the development of educational
systems, for example, if a formative assessment goes hand-in-hand with a high-quality
curriculum and teaching, and has a positive feedback loop into the curriculum and local
teaching practice. However, such approaches are largely absent in developing
countries.266 If tests are disconnected from improving curricula and pedagogy, and instead
serve to evaluate an individual, teacher or school on one narrow aspect of learning or
quality – to determine which schools to close or teachers to fire – they will fail to support
system-wide and substantive quality reforms.267
Moreover, the increasing focus on standardized testing in developing countries runs the
risks of failing to recognize the huge challenges and dangers of standardizing comparison
across different languages, scripts, cultures and contexts.268 Such test-based
accountability is strongly rooted in the argument that, by providing the information by which
consumers can make choices, quality will be improved.
If tests are disconnected
from improving curricula
and pedagogy, and
instead serve to evaluate
an individual, teacher or
school on one narrow
aspect of learning or
quality – to determine
which schools to close or
teachers to fire – they will
fail to support system-wide
and substantive quality
reforms.
43
However, it feeds into a dangerously reductive concept of quality, narrowly focused on
reading and math outcomes, and (even more narrowly) using test scores as the key tool for
improvement and accountability. This can serve to distort both the outcomes it seeks to
achieve and the broader purpose of education. As an open letter in 2014 signed by more
than 70 leading academics in the field of education globally stated, if we emphasize only a
limited range of measurable aspects of education, we
‘…take attention away from the less measurable or immeasurable educational objectives
like physical, moral, civic and artistic development, thereby dangerously narrowing our
collective imagination regarding what education is and ought to be about’.269
Oversight and accountability
Currently, far too many public services are not accountable to those they are supposed
to serve, with minimal public oversight mechanisms.270 Improving educational quality
requires public education to become more accountable to children, their families and
citizens overall.
Action is needed at all levels – from individual schools through to national governments
– from schools, teachers, elected officials, taxpayers and parents. In many public
education systems, this accountability loop is very poor (if not broken).271 Yet if schools
are to play their role in social cohesion, civic participation and nation-building, fixing
this this is necessary.
Some commentators argue that introducing more parental choice alone will introduce
greater accountability, driving up quality across the system in the process.272 This is
based on the assumption that providing parents with a choice means that they will take
their children out of failing schools, resulting in pressure to increase standards, and,
ultimately, the market will drive up quality.273 This concept underpins a number of
educational reforms across the world. However, this relies on parents having the right
information, and being able to identify indicators of good quality. This appears to be a
flawed assumption when tested.274 Moreover, given the capacity for the poorest and
most marginalized people to absorb information (especially if parents are functionally
illiterate) and act on that information (given a lack of political power), this seems blind
to the power asymmetries in communities. These asymmetries are likely to be
compounded in many low-income countries with limited information. This is why the
‘school choice’ agenda has been shown by the OECD to be associated with larger
differences in the social composition of schools.275
Instead, improving accountability across the whole system requires focusing on the
chain of accountability. At the school level, this requires involving parents more in
governance and decision making – whether in statutory bodies such as school
management committees or more informal structures, such as parent-teacher
associations. However, too often these structures are dominated by a local elite, rather
than being representative of all parents. Such interventions need to be fully cognizant
of local power and politics, as well as gender inequalities. For instance, research on an
intervention in Mali found that increasing local governance empowered some groups,
but further isolated nomadic groups.276 Local or district education authorities also have
a crucial role to play to ensure professional accountability, but this requires renewed
investment in district education, particularly in rural areas, to give effective support to
schools.277
44
Funding for schools also needs much tighter control and better governance oversight.
Too often allocated funds are not reaching schools.278 Ensuring effective scrutiny of
budgets by communities is crucial. There is a need to increase the monitoring and
accountability at every level to ensure that budget allocation is properly targeted,
arrives in full and on time, and is effectively spent. Action to ensure budgets are
transparent and funds are tracked independently can help to ensure that resources are
converted into real delivery on the ground.279
Box 14: The risks of results-based financing approaches
Results-based financing (RBF) is defined by UNESCO as ‘any programme that rewards
delivery of verified outputs, outcomes or impact with a financial or other incentive. The
reward recipients may be governments (results-based aid), service providers (results
based financing) or beneficiaries (e.g. conditional cash transfers).’280
Despite a relatively weak evidence base on the effectiveness of RBF approaches,281 the
World Bank in 2015 committed to channel $5bn over five years through such programmes
in education.282 When RBF approaches are used to incentivize or reward performance in
student learning outcomes, equity becomes a serious concern. Furthermore, the impact of
external factors, such as socioeconomic class, raises questions about attribution of
outcomes. RBF can risk deepening existing inequality and exclusion by rewarding those
schools that are performing well, and leaving those most in need with less support and
funding. It can lead schools to engage in behaviours that improve performance on
standardized tests, such as only admitting the best students, cheating and the
unnecessary expulsion of low-performing students. RBF approaches that seek to directly
address equity, for example by rewarding schools for enrolling poor students, may be
limited by low institutional and data capacity of local governments to verify income status;
these resources could perhaps be better used in providing capacity for stronger school
support, management and oversight.
There is a growing evidence base on the pitfalls of RBF linked to test results. Research in
the United States by the National Academy of Sciences looked at 15 incentive
programmes designed to link rewards or sanctions for schools, students and teachers to
students’ test results. It found that test-based incentives do not produce meaningful
improvements in student achievement.283 This form of financing also raises the challenge
of sustainability and unpredictability, which makes it difficult for schools and districts to
commit to hiring quality teachers and other personnel, who are critical to the task of
improving learning.
USING EDUCATION TO FIGHT FOR
WOMEN’S RIGHTS
Action on equalizing education must also pay attention to the role it can play in
supporting women’s economic empowerment. Across the world, women consistently
earn less than men and are concentrated in the lowest-paid and least secure work,
which is often part-time.284 They are often paid less than men for the same job, in rich
and poor countries alike, even in societies considered to have achieved high levels of
gender equality.285 Globally, women’s participation in the formal labour force is 26%
lower than men’s, and the average gender pay gap is 23%.286
45
Reduced economic opportunities for women in the workforce often start in the
classroom. While simply ensuring education for all girls will not in itself wipe out
disparities in wages, poverty, reproductive autonomy and political power, data
suggests it can play a powerful role.287 For example, in Pakistan, women with only a
primary education earn around 50% of men’s wages, while women with a secondary
education earn around 70% – still an unacceptable gap, but a far narrower one. It is for
this reason that investment in increasing education levels has a stronger impact on
future earnings for girls than boys, and thus can have a powerful impact on reducing
income inequalities between men and women.
Women are more often among the poorest people, particularly during their
reproductive years, because of the level of unpaid care work they are expected to
perform.288 Data from 66 countries shows that women on average spend more than
three times as much time on unpaid care as men do – in some countries up to 11 times
as much – and when unpaid and paid work are combined, women do significantly more
work than men, particularly in developing countries.289 This work can fall on mothers,
constraining their ability to work, and sisters, affecting their ability to continue their
education. It is widely recognized that addressing girls’ unpaid care responsibilities is
central to increasing girls’ participation and attainment in secondary education.290
Investing in early childhood care and education can have a particularly large impact on
young girls and women – with a double impact on inequality because it can also free
up women from unpaid childcare duties, contributing to greater economic
empowerment for women. For instance, when Kenya expanded its preschool
education to include four-to-five-year-old children, it was shown to have a significant
and positive impact on increasing female labour participation.291
Yet in low-income countries, preschool remains inaccessible to the vast majority of
children. Only one in five young children are enrolled in pre-primary education, and, for
the most part, these establishments are privately run, fee-charging centres in urban
areas that cater to urban elites.293 This leaves the world’s poorest children falling
behind right from the start, and it leaves the world’s poorest mothers struggling to
support their children’s early chances in life.
To benefit women, policies need not only to take account of the needs of children, but
also the needs of women, for example by fitting around their typical working hours,
which many policies do not.294 Only a handful of low- or middle-income countries,
primarily in Africa, have acknowledged women’s care needs in their early childhood
care programmes.295 In Ghana, for example, policy explicitly recognizes women’s need
for childcare support in addition to children’s need for education. In Namibia, early
childhood education and care policy specifically notes the importance of such support
for allowing older siblings to attend school.296
Box 15: Valuing the work of female teachers
While most of this report focuses on the benefits of public education for those being
educated and their societies, the impact for those working within the system is also notable
from an equality perspective. Recent figures show that more than 72 million people are
working as teachers at pre-primary, primary and secondary level globally;297 this does not
count teachers at other levels, nor the large numbers of non-teaching staff working in
education. International Labour Organization figures show that one in 23 people in
employment globally work in education.298
In Pakistan, women with
only a primary education
earn around 50% of men’s
wages, while women with
a secondary education
earn around 70% – still an
unacceptable gap, but a
far narrower one.
Only one in five young
children are enrolled in preprimary education, and, for
the most part, these
establishments are privately
run, fee-charging centres in
urban areas that cater to
urban elites.292 This leaves
the world’s poorest children
falling behind right from the
start, and it leaves the
world’s poorest mothers
struggling to support their
children’s early chances in
life.
In the USA, elementary
and middle school
teaching is the single most
common occupation for
working women. By
contrast, teaching and
school jobs do not feature
in the top 10 occupations
for men.
46
Moreover, education is a particularly significant employer for women, being a femaledominated profession in all regions outside sub-Saharan Africa.299 In the UK, for example,
one in 12 working women is employed in a school.300 In the USA, elementary and middle
school teaching is the single most common occupation for working women. By contrast,
teaching and school jobs do not feature in the top 10 occupations for men.301
Thus, the pay and conditions for teachers and education workers is very important for
ensuring decent work, which is a bulwark against inequality, especially between men and
women. While there are significant variations between schools – and between types of private
schools – evidence indicates that around the world there is a strong tendency towards lower
pay and benefits in private schools compared to public schools. This is often in a context in
which teachers are already underpaid in comparison to their similarly educated peers. Recent
research shows that, for example, teachers employed by major chains of private school
operators in the Philippines (APEC)302 and Uganda (Bridge International Academies)303 have
salaries around 50% lower than those of public school teachers, while the Omega private
school chain in Ghana pays teachers salaries equivalent to just 15% to 20% of the salaries
their public-school counterparts receive.304
In Pakistan, low-fee private schools tend to have a largely female teaching workforce; working
environments and the treatment of teachers tend to reflect the gendered division of labour in
wider Pakistani society. Working under mostly male principals, female teachers have hardly
any part in decision making, either in classes or at school level. By virtue of their gender,
female teachers are paid lower salaries than their male counterparts, and are mostly
restricted to teaching primary school children.305
This is not to say, of course, that conditions for teachers in public schools are always
acceptable. On the contrary, in far too many countries, teachers have poor conditions at
work.306 In the public system, however, there tend to be stronger unions, which can help to
push back against poor conditions.
Given the scale of employment in the education sector, for women in particular, an emphasis
on high-quality teaching jobs in public education that also provide training needs to be an
important element of a strategy to combat inequality among working people and tackle gender
pay differentials.
A teacher at Salam Girls’ Primary School in Aweil, South Sudan. Photo: William Vest-Lillesoe.
47
5 INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Delivering quality with equity requires both more and better spending. To ensure that
education can play a role in tackling broader inequalities in society, it also requires
large new injections of public funding, paid for by those who can most afford it.
Governments must tax wealth fairly as an investment in nations’ futures, so that every
child gets a chance to achieve their potential and contribute towards a better society –
as a down payment on creating more equal and happier societies.
INCREASED INVESTMENT IN PUBLIC
EDUCATION
Extra funding is required to scale up educational expansion to reach those still not in
school, and to spend more on each pupil. Achieving universal pre-primary, primary and
secondary education of good quality requires at least a tripling of current spending
levels in low- and middle-income countries.307 This necessitates an immediate radical
shift in financing; at current levels, it is estimated that it could take until at least 2080 to
ensure all children receive primary and secondary education.308
In many low-income countries, the need for increased investment is made even more
challenging by the predicted ‘youth bulge’. In Africa, the number of children is
projected to increase by 170 million between now and 2030, taking the number of the
continent’s under-18s to 750 million.310 The number of teachers in low-income
countries will need to nearly double to meet this demand.311 This has led some experts
to note that this will require investment – at least in the shorter term – above the
international benchmark for education spending of 6% of GDP or more, and more than
20% of public budgets.312
Without this investment, we will be letting down generations of the world’s poorest
children, stifling their talent and potential to contribute towards bettering their societies.
It will mean squandering the promise of education to fight poverty and inequality.
TAXING WEALTH AS A DOWN PAYMENT
ON A BETTER FUTURE
There is no getting away from the fact that spending more money on education
requires boosting the money available to governments. Of the $3 trillion per year
required by 2030 across low- and middle-income countries, 97% must come from the
public purse.313
Tax revenues can unlock considerable new resources, when countries combine this
with a focus on spending them on education. For example, Ecuador tripled its
education spending between 2003 and 2010 through effective tax mobilization policies
and prioritizing education in its budget.314
This means governments must find ways to raise more taxes to realise the right to
education for all. Fairer taxation of the wealthiest can help pay for this, thus ensuring
At current levels, it is
estimated that it could take
until at least 2080 to
ensure all children receive
primary and secondary
education.
‘How we [Africa] can
organize ourselves to
make sure that the wealth,
the huge wealth of this
great continent, at least, in
the first time in modern
history, is used on behalf
of the peoples of the
continent, and not those
outside…We are going to
have to make sure that
every young child, boy and
girl, has access to
education. Not only that
they have access to
education, but they have
access to an education
that will allow them to be
able to address the
challenges of the 21st
century.’
Speech by President
Akufo-Addo of Ghana at
the Global Partnership
for Education’s
financing conference309
48
that the wealth of those who have the most helps to build nations’ prosperity. We could
and should use wealth to build better and more equal economies and societies.
Taxes must fall on those most able to pay – wealthy individuals and companies. This
includes:
• taxing wealth and capital at fairer levels;
• stopping the race to the bottom on personal income and corporate taxes in poor
countries; and
• eliminating tax avoidance and evasion by corporates and the super-rich.
Currently, the tax dodging practices of multinationals are leading to a haemorrhaging of
resources from developing countries.315 This deprives their citizens of wealth that could
be invested in education. The impact of companies avoiding tax316 alone costs
developing countries at least $100bn every year – this is half the estimated annual total
cost of meeting the target of universal primary and lower-secondary education in lowincome countries.317 Companies making money in a country must give back through a
fair contribution in taxation that can be invested in building that country’s long-term
wealth through education for all.
If domestic resources increased to the ambitious target of 6% of GDP – which is what
the Education 2030 Framework for Action suggests318 – across low-income countries,
there would still be a funding shortfall of $39bn. In this context, aid remains central to
ensuring that the wealthiest nations help support the poorest children in the world in
the short term. However, aid falls far short; according to some estimates, it needs to be
multiplied six times to ensure equity and quality for all children by 2030.319
Box 16: Donors must commit to supporting education in developing countries
Lower-income countries need support to make the crucial investments required for
education. Yet donor aid to education has been falling for a number of years, is currently
stagnant, and is being diverted away from those countries that need it most.320
An estimated $340bn per year will be necessary to achieve universal pre-primary, primary
and secondary education of good quality in low- and lower middle-income countries.321
However, aid is increasingly not allocated according to need. Donor money for basic
education in sub-Saharan Africa, home to over half of the world’s out-of-school children,
has been halved since 2002. Sub-Saharan Africa now only gets 26% of total ODA to basic
education, barely more than the 22% allocated to Western Asia, where only 9% of children
are out of school. Bilateral donors need to increase their aid while giving greater support to
multilateral efforts, ensuring that they are supporting the countries and populations most in
need.322
PUBLIC SPENDING AS AN ENGINE FOR
FIGHTING INEQUALITY
How governments spend on education – where it is spent, on what kind of education,
and who benefits from it – matters greatly to the degree of impact it can have on
income inequality. Government financing of universal free education – paid for by
taxing the wealthiest and the most able to pay – has a large impact on promoting
equality and fighting poverty, to the benefit of the nation as a whole.
The impact of companies
avoiding tax alone costs
developing countries at
least $100bn every year –
this is half the estimated
annual total cost of
meeting the target of
universal primary and
lower-secondary
education in low-income
countries.
49
The IMF has identified spending on public services and social protection as among the
most important tools available to governments to reduce inequality and poverty.
Evidence from more than 150 countries, rich and poor alike, spanning over 30 years,323
shows that investment in education and other public services reduces inequality.324
The same effect is demonstrated in a study of 29 low- and middle-income countries,
which found that public spending has had an equalizing effect across all of them.
Within those countries, education helped fight poverty and make societies more
equal.325
This is because if a government provides education that is either completely free or
heavily subsidized at the point of delivery, the poorest people do not have to use as
much of their very low earnings to pay for it. This has been shown to boost to gross
incomes for lower-income households by as much as (if not more than) their regular
earnings: Oxfam compared public education spending and income data for 88
countries,326 and found that the amount of public education spending per pupil at
primary level327 is more than per capita income for the poorest 10% of households (see
Figure 8).328 In almost three-quarters of these countries, spending by the government
for each primary school child is more than twice the income per capita for the poorest
families; in more than a quarter of the countries surveyed, it is more than quadruple.
Figure 8: Income of the poorest compared to public spending per
primary student
Source: Comparison by Oxfam. This was calculated using household income data from the Global
Consumption and Income Project and education spending data from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics. See
endnote 14 for more information.
The IMF has identified
spending on public
services and social
protection as among the
most important tools
available to governments
to reduce inequality and
poverty.
50
In South Africa, government education spending for three children in primary school is
more than five times the household income for a poor family of five. For a single
mother with two children who are both in primary school, public spending on schooling
exceeds household income by five times in Colombia, nearly four times in Poland and
Cote D’Ivoire, and almost three-and-a-half times in Indonesia. Governments are thus
producing a powerful redistributive effect with their public education spending.329
This effect can vary greatly, thus showing the varied impact that the choice of
government policies plays. It is vital that education spending enables the poorest
children to access free quality education, because spending on free public services
benefits everyone, but provides relatively greater benefits to the poorest people.330 The
more unequal a country is and the greater its public spending, the more significant the
benefit for the poorest families is likely to be. This is best demonstrated in looking at
the difference between Latin America and advanced economies: Latin America has the
highest average income inequality in the world and advanced economies have the
lowest; more than three-quarters of the difference can be explained by the greater
extent of redistribution in advanced economies through taxing wealthier people and
redistributing the funds through spending on public services.331
Box 17: India’s education system is underfunded and unequal
India’s education system is unequal. The median number of years of education girls
belonging to rich families receive is nine, while the equivalent median number for girls from
poor families is zero.332 Girls are 20% less likely than boys to study in technical streams,
science or commerce compared with arts or humanities, blocking their access to better
paying jobs in life. Having studied in a technical stream rather than arts reduces the gender
gap in earnings by 28.2%.333 India’s marginalized social groups also tend to have lower
learning outcomes.334
While improved public education provision reduces inequality a lack of schools and health
centres has been found to be responsible for an approximately 30% increase in inequality
in ethnically fragmented districts in India.335 However, much of the education system in
India is under-resourced. Barely 12.7% of India’s schools comply with the minimum norms
under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE). There are huge
differences between states: while almost all teachers in schools in Delhi, Gujarat and
Puducherry have the requisite academic qualifications, 70% of teachers in Meghalaya
continue to lack them. The overall poor quality of education is accompanied by active
discrimination in classrooms.336 Lower caste children also experience longer travel time to
school since they are more likely to reside at the outskirts of their villages,337 and schools
with tribal populations often lack instruction in their mother tongue.
When private schools provide spaces for rich and poor students to mix, as has been
envisaged under the RTE Act in India, this makes rich students more pro-social, generous
and egalitarian, less likely to discriminate against poor students, and more willing to
socialize with them.338 However, the growth of private schooling has instead led to social
segregation as, unfortunately, private schools frequently create hurdles to avoid enrolling
children with disabilities and from marginalized communities.339 Girls are at a particular
disadvantage in the expanding private education market. The gender gap in private school
enrolment in India is rising, even as it is closing in government schools.340
For a single mother with
two children who are both
in primary school, public
spending on schooling
exceeds household
income by five times in
Colombia, nearly four
times in Poland and Cote
D’Ivoire, and almost threeand-a-half times in
Indonesia.
In India, girls belonging to
rich families receive an
average of nine years of
education, while on
average girls from poor
families get none at all.
51
SPENDING FOR EQUALITY
In the context of resource scarcity, equitable use of public funds in the education sector
is of paramount importance. It is possible to achieve more for the majority with similar
overall budget levels. For example, in Burundi the number of out-of-school primary
children dropped from 723,000 in 1999 to just 10,000 in 2009. Over the same period,
Burundi increased its investment in education from 3.2% of GDP to 8.3%. The most
important factor was dedicating a much larger chunk of the budget to primary
education.341
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest educational funding challenges facing most
developing countries will be to not leave behind the very poorest as education
expands. A delicate balance has to be found – especially if education is to play a role
in tackling inequality.
This may require using budgets for affirmative action to benefit the poorest and other
excluded groups, or to address gender inequality. Budgets are often formulated in
ways that fail to factor in the higher investment needed to reach those children who are
disadvantaged due to poverty, disability or other factors. Governments need to have a
far sharper focus on investing in equality in education, using complementary measures
to positively redress disadvantage. This will include going beyond spending on
education with complementary interventions: for instance, targeted financing to the
most vulnerable groups, which has been shown to support the poorest children to go to
school.342
This can include spending on areas that increase students’ capacity to learn. For
example, school-provided meals can have positive effects on learning in places where
children have limited access to food at home.343 Subsidies for uniforms, transport or
learning materials can help. Financial or in-kind incentives (such as housing) for
teachers to keep them in rural areas have been effective in Cambodia, Gambia and
Malawi.344
Such strategies are most beneficial when they are also part of wider efforts to target
education reforms. For instance, for more than ten years, Brazil was particularly
successful in both increasing its investment in education from 10% to 18% of its budget
and implementing transfers of federal funding to poorer states specifically to help them
focus on equity in education. 345 This was coupled with a conditional cash transfer
programme called Bolsa Família to support poor families. This helped tackle inequality
in the education system and led to one of the fastest increases in learning
achievements on record.346 Unfortunately, current restrictions on spending risk
endangering previous successes.
In Burundi, the number of
out-of-school primary
children dropped from
723,000 in 1999 to just
10,000 in 2009. Over the
same period,
Burundi increased its
investment in education
from 3.2% of GDP to
8.3%.
Brazil was particularly
successful in both
increasing its investment
in education from 10% to
18% of its budget and
implementing transfers of
federal funding to poorer
states specifically to help
them focus on equity in
education.
52
Box 18: How Vietnam is spending on education to improve equality and quality
Vietnam is a particularly instructive example of how much can be achieved when a lower
income country prioritizes equality and quality in educational spending. Previous decisions
to prioritize equitable investments in its public education system have helped children
access education and have led to the achievement of strong learning outcomes.
Vietnamese 15-year-olds perform at the same level as those in Germany.347 At the same
time, the basic learning attainment rates of children from the poorest households have
increased considerably, with the most substantial gains among children from the poorest
households.348 The previous gender gap has largely disappeared,349 though unfortunately
differences between urban and rural areas and challenges for ethnic minorities persist.350
Education plays a facilitating role in terms of social mobility (income, jobs, skills, mobility).
National statistics show that households headed by people with higher educational
attainment are more likely to move from the low-income quintile to higher-income groups.
23% of households headed by post-high school education graduates moved up from the
40% of lowest-income households to higher income groups in 2010–2014. Meanwhile, this
rate was only 8% among households headed by primary school graduates.351
Recently, the progress of previous years has been frustrated by continued enrolment gaps
among socioeconomic groups352 and by government policies to focus more investment in
tertiary education. This has stifled the otherwise impressive progress in Vietnam and has
led to the risk of expansion of private education in urban areas.
However, there are many lessons to be learned from the situation and experience of
Vietnam. Unlike many other lower-income countries, Vietnam largely managed to maintain
educational quality during rapid expansion. It did this by ensuring that disadvantaged
students received relatively equitable access to quality schooling, and funding was logically
and coherently assigned towards addressing equity and quality simultaneously.
Programmes emphasized a minimum standard of quality for schooling, focusing on
disadvantaged communities and providing extra government resources to poorer
districts.353
The relative success of Vietnam can also be attributed to far-reaching reforms in teacher
recruitment, training drives and in spending in a way that ensured good-quality teachers in
the regions with the most disadvantaged pupils. Teachers of more disadvantaged children
were absent less often, and provided feedback more regularly to their students, enabling
greater learning to take place.354 Teachers were also able to assess students’ levels more
accurately than in many other countries with a similar income, and were seen to be more
aware of and responsive to their students’ learning levels, providing evidence for the
importance of appropriately paced curricula combined with support to teachers to use it
effectively.355 As a result, the share of children in the most disadvantaged district in
Vietnam who answered questions in fourth-grade correctly rose from 18% at the beginning
of the school year to 47% at the end.356
Vietnam also invested heavily in early-learning programmes for the very worst off, including
children from minority language groups. This has been coupled with complementary
spending to address malnutrition. Vietnam has shown prolonged commitment to inclusive
education by gradually developing adequately resourced large-scale programmes,
including strategies for curriculum reform and teacher training that targets inclusion.
Finally, Vietnam focused on expanding universal, fee-free government provision of
education, leading to an increase in the enrolment ratio, while private enrolment dropped.
Education is still not entirely without some hidden costs in Vietnam, but they are by-and
large much lower than in other countries: for instance, in Nepal, it was estimated in 2016
that households paid almost 40% of the cost of primary education; by contrast, in Vietnam,
households paid 13% of the total cost of primary education, which is much closer to levels
observed in high-income countries.357
53
6 CONCLUSIONS AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
Economic inequality is growing. The kind of education system a country has will have a
major impact on its capacity to respond. Access to good-quality education for individual
children offers a pathway to liberation from poverty and illness, towards the fulfilment of
basic rights. It can transform lives and bring children out of the shadows of poverty and
marginalization. For societies, it acts as a leveller and an agent for greater equality.
Yet, as this report shows, the only road to this is through reform of public education
systems focused on quality and equality. This must be achieved through the necessary
policy approaches identified in this report. Approaches that focus on privatization,
competition and a false sense of ‘choice’ will lead to greater inequality in and through
education. This is a dangerous path, not least as today’s young people face a radically
and rapidly changing world. What’s more, it will do little to deliver on the SDG promise
of ensuring an equitable and good-quality education for all by 2030, which requires a
radical shift in current policies and spending in the vast majority of poor countries. For
instance, India, currently home to nearly 40 million out-of-school children at secondary
level, is only forecast to meet the target for universal access to secondary school in
2085.358 In Mozambique, it will take a predicted 500 years.359 Some countries will only
deliver for their wealthier citizens: in Nicaragua, Armenia, Cameroon, Guatemala,
Zambia and Chad, learning for the poorest children (whether they are in school or not)
is actually decreasing, while for the wealthiest it is improving. This is leading to
predicted inequality-widening patterns by 2030.360 It is a negative and potentially
dangerous vision.
But against this backdrop, some countries show what is possible, including countries
that perform far better than income levels would predict, such as Vietnam, thanks to
delivering a public education system with a sustained focus on quality with equality.
While there are still areas to improve upon, they shine a light on the actions required to
deliver on the promise of the SDGs by 2030.
We can ensure that every young person gets to experience the incredible liberation of
learning, and unlock the levelling impact of good-quality education. Governments must
act with urgency because, in education, a dream deferred all too often becomes a
dream denied.
RECOMMENDATIONS
To build equitable and good-quality public education that can help fight economic and
gender inequality, policy makers must focus on the following actions:
1. Deliver universal, fee-free education from preprimary to secondary
• Set out plans to ensure free, equitable and high-quality primary and secondary
education for 12 full years, as agreed in SDG 4 on education.
• Eliminate fees at all levels, including informal fees, progressively achieving fee-free
secondary education. This must be carefully planned so as not to jeopardize
54
quality. Progressively expand access to at least one year of fee-free, quality preprimary education.
• Support the poorest, minorities and children with disabilities with extra help to
redress disadvantage, so that they stay in school and learning.
• Support poor and vulnerable girls to go to school and stay in school.
2. Focus on policies that can help to deliver quality
for all
• Develop a fully costed and funded strategy to deliver a trained, qualified and wellsupported professional workforce, with enough teachers and other personnel to
deliver education for all up to secondary school.
• Invest in relevant and non-discriminatory teaching materials, taking into account
mother tongues; the changing needs of the majority; and the need for schools to be
places where sexist and patriarchal rules are challenged, not learned.
• Develop local accountability mechanisms between schools and their communities,
parents and children; build better safeguarding and accountability mechanisms from
national to local levels, including ensuring budgets and other information is
available publicly and transparently for citizen scrutiny.
• Use appropriate assessments that encourage a feedback loop for curriculum
development and classroom adaptations at the local level; do not simply equate
higher test scores with improved quality.
3. Deliver more equal education systems
• Develop national education plans that focus coherently and comprehensively on
identifying pre-existing inequalities in education, producing data on gaps and
needs, and developing appropriate strategies.
• Ensure equitable teacher deployment, coupled with equitable spending on school
infrastructure and learning inputs, to help redress disadvantage. This may require
affirmative action in poorer or more marginalized districts or regions.
• Ensure additional spending targeted at redressing disadvantage for marginalized or
poor children in ways with proven impact.
• Ensure schools and teachers are supported to address the unique learning needs
of all students, including children with disabilities. This will require training teachers
on differentiated instruction as well as proper data collection and diagnosis.
4. Focus on building public systems first; stop
supporting privatization
• Devote the maximum available resources to public education provision, to ensure
adequately and equitably financed public schools; do not direct public funds to
commercial or for-profit private schools, or market-oriented PPPs. Avoid diverting
scarce public resources and attention away from the essential task of building
good-quality, inclusive public schools that are free and accessible for all students.
• Ensure adequate regulation of private education providers, especially commercial
schools, to ensure educational quality and standards are being upheld.
• Safeguard the labour rights of teachers, especially female teachers, in the public
sector and the private sector as well.
55
• Donors and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank should support the
improvement and expansion of public education delivery, and should not direct
public aid funds to commercial or for-profit private schools, or market-oriented
PPPs.
5. Ensure education works to strengthen equality
for girls and women
• Address the particular barriers that keep girls out of school or learning, such as
providing separate bathrooms for boys and girls, addressing the non-fee related
costs of schooling, and ensuring curricula and teacher training promote positive
gender roles and avoid stereotypes.
• Invest in early childhood care and education programmes that take account of the
needs of women (i.e. fit around typical working hours), and young girls who are
expected to care for children: this can free up women’s time by easing the millions
of unpaid hours they spend every day caring for their families and homes.
6. Fully fund public education systems to deliver
quality and equality for all
• Governments must scale up spending to deliver quality and equity in education; in
low- and middle-income countries this will require at least 20% of government
budgets, or 6% of GDP allocated to education. Those with the furthest to go, and
large youth populations, may need to invest more than this in the short term.
• Government spending must proactively redress disadvantage, including by
adopting equity-of-funding approaches to address the historical disadvantage faced
by the poorest groups.
• Invest in building robust structures, from school to local to national levels, for the
effective oversight and accountability of education budgets.
• Tax wealth and capital at fairer levels. Stop the race to the bottom on personal
income and corporate taxes. Eliminate tax avoidance and evasion by corporations
and the super-rich. Agree a new set of global rules and institutions to fundamentally
redesign the tax system to make it fair, with developing countries having an equal
seat at the table.
Donors should substantially increase their official development assistance (ODA)
commitments to education, especially to basic education and in countries with the
greatest needs, in order to ensure developing countries are able to devote adequate
resources to build quality public education provision.
56
NOTES
1 See e.g.: F. Alvaredo, L. Chancel, T. Piketty, E. Saez and G. Zucman. (2017). The World
Inequality Report 2018. World Inequality Lab. http://wir2018.wid.world/; Lawson, M et al.
(2019). Public good or private wealth? Universal health, education and other public services
reduce the gap between rich and poor, and between women and men. Fairer taxation of the
wealthiest can help pay for them. Oxfam. https://policypractice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/public-good-or-private-wealth-universal-health-educationand-other-public-servi-620599
2 E. Seery. (2014). Working for the Many: Public services fight inequality. Oxfam. https://policypractice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/working-for-the-many-public-services-fight-inequality-
314724
3 Lawson, M et al. (2019). Public good or private wealth? Op. cit.
4 Rhodes, F. (2016). Women and the 1%: How extreme economic inequality and gender
inequality must be tackled together. Oxfam. https://policypractice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/women-and-the-1-how-extreme-economic-inequality-andgender-inequality-must-be-t-604855
5 See, for example, OECD. (2011). Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising.
https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/dividedwestandwhyinequalitykeepsrising.htm
6 See, for example, M. Lawson and M. Martin. (2018). The Commitment to Reducing Inequality
Index 2018: A global ranking of governments based on what they are doing to tackle the gap
between rich and poor. Development Finance International and Oxfam. DOI:
10.21201/2018.3415. https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/the-commitment-toreducing-inequality-index-2018-a-global-ranking-of-government-620553
7 Nelson Mandela speech at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Institute for Education and Rural
Development, November 2007.
8 Data from UNESCO Education Inequalities Database: https://www.educationinequalities.org/indicators/comp_upsec_v2#?sort=mean&dimension=all&group=all&age_grou
p=comp_upsec_v2&countries=all For details, see methodology note
9 Ibid, see: https://www.educationinequalities.org/indicators/comp_upsec_v2#?sort=mean&dimension=all&group=all&age_grou
p=comp_upsec_v2&countries=all. This is for children from the richest quintile and the poorest
quintile.
10 Rose, P. and Alcott, B. (2015). Assignment Report: How can education systems become
equitable by 2030? Department for International Development. https://www.gov.uk/dfidresearch-outputs/assignment-report-how-can-education-systems-become-equitable-by-2030
11 National Family Health Survey India. http://rchiips.org/nfhs/NFHS-4Report.shtml
12 K.M. Bous and J. Farr (2019) False Promises: How delivering education through publicprivate partnerships risks fueling inequality instead of achieving quality education for all.
Oxfam International Briefing Paper https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/falsepromises-how-delivering-education-through-public-private-partnerships-ris-620720
13 Taken from the foreword by Nellie Kumambala in: Lawson, M et al. (2019). Public good or
private wealth? Op. cit.
14 These figures were calculated by Oxfam by comparing education spending per pupil data and
per capita income. The education data was from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics using the
following indicator: ‘Initial government funding per primary student, constant $PPP’. See:
http://data.uis.unesco.org/. We used the most recent data available (2013 or later in all
cases). Per capita income was taken from the Global Consumption and Income Project. See:
http://gcip.info/. The mean per capita income in 2014 for poorest decile of the population was
used (US$ in 2005 PPP terms).
15 UNESCO and Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Reducing global poverty through
universal primary and secondary education. Policy Paper 32/Fact Sheet 44.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000250392
16 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for people & planet: Creating
sustainable futures for all. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gemreport/report/2016/education-people-and-planet-creating-sustainable-futures-all
57
17 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives. UNESCO.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000223115
18 See, for example, a review of data from Polity IV index and of related academic literature in
Glaeser E., Ponzetto G. and Shleifer A. (2006). Why does democracy need education?
National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 12128. DOI: 10.3386/w12128.
https://www.nber.org/papers/w12128.
19 See a review in D. Campbell. (2006). What is education’s impact on civil and social
engagement? In: OECD. (2006). Measuring the Effects of Education on Health and Civic
Engagement: Proceedings of the Copenhagen Symposium, pp 25–119.
20 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Girls’ education – the facts. Fact Sheet,
October 2013. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/girlsfactsheet-en.pdf
21 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives, op. cit.
22 Ibid.
23 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Girls’ education – the facts, op. cit.
24 For instance, in assessing the achievements of the Education for All (EFA) goals between
2000–2015, the EFA Monitoring Report notes that: the number of primary school age out-ofschool children dropped by 42% between 2000 and 2015; 50 million more children are
enrolled in school; and more than half of countries and regions worldwide have met or are
close to achieving universal primary education, with a 95% enrolment rate, overall. Moreover,
the EFA goal for meeting gender parity in primary education has been met. However, the
challenges in some countries should not be overlooked. For instance, an estimated 57 million
children, mainly the poorest and most marginalized – remained out of primary school in 2015.
See: Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and Challenges. UNESCO.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000232205
25 In September 2015, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, Member States
formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. SDG 4 aims to ensure
‘inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’
and has seven targets. This includes a commitment to ‘the provision of 12 years of free,
publicly-funded, inclusive, equitable, quality primary and secondary education’. See:
Sustainable Development Goal 4. https://www.sdg4education2030.org/the-goal
26 See speech given by Ghanaian President Akufo Addo, available here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_PNJjpw-Qb4. Accessed, 21st February 2018.
27 K. M. Bous and J. Farr. (2019). False Promises, op. cit.
28 It is an explicit goal of this World Bank-funded programme ‘to expand outreach of the Punjab
Education Fund to 2.8 million out-of-school children’. World Bank (2016). Third Punjab
Education Sector Project. Project Appraisal Document.
http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/967701468198234577/pdf/PAD1641-PADP154524-R2016-0090-1-Box394887B-OUO-9.pdf
29 M. Afridi. (2018). Equity and Quality in an education public private partnership: A study of the
World Bank-supported PPP in Punjab, Pakistan. Oxfam.
https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/equity-and-quality-education-public-private-partnership-0
30 Global Campaign for Education and Education International. (2012). Closing the trained
teacher gap. Global Campaign for Education.
http://www.campaignforeducation.org/docs/reports/ECNAT%20Report_RGB.pdf
31 For a discussion of the evidence on some of the core arguments for a lack of teacher
accountability in developing countries being at the core of the learning crisis, see: B. Barbara,
D. Filmer and H Patrinos. (2011). Making Schools Work: New Evidence on Accountability
Reforms. World Bank. http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-
1298568319076/makingschoolswork.pdf
32 See the World Bank Human Capital Project:
https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/human-capital
58
33 Own calculations based on the World Bank’s WDI database. GDP per capita figures for
Ethiopia were rebased from 2011 PPP USD to 1990 PPP USD. Canadian GDP figures taken
from J. Bolt, et al. (2014). GDP per capita since 1820. In: How Was Life? Global well-being
since 1820. https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/economics/how-was-life/gdp-per-capita-since-
1820_9789264214262-7-en; and P. Espinoza Revollo, et al. (2019). Public Good or Private
Wealth? Methodology Note.
https://oxfamilibrary.openrepository.com/bitstream/handle/10546/620599/tb-public-good-orprivate-wealth-methodology-note-210119-en.pdf?sequence=15
34 Based on a pupil teacher ratio of 55:1 and a primary school population of 25 million, using
UNESCO Institute for Statistics data from World Bank Data. See:
https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.ENRL.TC.ZS?locations=ET
35 Z. Paulos and A. Zeyede. (2017). National Education Sector Budget Brief: 2006–2016.
UNICEF Ethiopia. https://www.unicef.org/esaro/UNICEF_Ethiopia_–_2017_–
_Education_Budget_Brief.pdf
36 Ibid.
37 M. Lawson and M. Martin. (2018). The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018, op.
cit.
38 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and Learning:
Achieving quality education for all, p.18 and p.120. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gemreport/report/2014/teaching-and-learning-achieving-quality-all. This edition of the Report has
a useful discussion of country efforts to improve tax mobilization and increase expenditure on
education.
39 UNESCO and Global Education Monitoring Report. (2018). Aid to education: a return to
growth? Policy Paper 36. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000263616
40 As cited in Venkatasubramanian, K. (4 December 2001). Education and poverty. The Hindu.
[Paywall]. https://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/op/2001/12/04/stories/2001120400060100.htm
41 Horace Mann, 1848, cited in R. Growe and P. Montgomery. (2003). Educational Equity in
America: Is Education the Great Equalizer? Professional Educator, 25(2) p23-29, 2003.
https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ842412
42 De Gregorio, J., and J-W Lee. (2003). Education and Income Inequality: New Evidence from
Cross Country Data. The Review of Income and Wealth, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 395–416.
https://doi.org/10.1111/1475-4991.00060
43 For a summary of the evidence, see: Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education
for people and planet: creating sustainable futures for all. UNESCO.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000245752
IMF. (2013). Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality.
https://www.imf.org/external/np/pp/eng/2014/012314.pdf; OECD. (2011). Education at a
Glance. 2011: OECD Indicators. http://www.oecd.org/education/skills-beyondschool/educationataglance2011oecdindicators.htm; OECD. (2011). Divided We Stand: Why
Inequality Keeps Rising, op. cit.
44 Lawson, M et al. (2019). Public good or private wealth? Op. cit.
45 See the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE). Available here:
https://www.education-inequalities.org/
46 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2019). Building bridges for gender equality: gender
report 2019. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/2019genderreport
47 See for example: World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018. Learning to
Realize Education’s Promise. https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/wdr2018; Global
Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our
commitments. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2017/accountability-education
48 See: Sustainable Development Goal 4. https://www.sdg4education2030.org/the-goal
49 OECD. (2017). Educational Opportunity for All: Overcoming Inequality throughout the Life
Course. https://www.oecd.org/publications/educational-opportunity-for-all-9789264287457-
en.htm
59
50 Mandela, N. (1994). Long Walk to Freedom. USA: Little Brown & Co.
51 UNESCO and Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Reducing global poverty through
universal primary and secondary education, op. cit.
52 Ibid.
53 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
54 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives, op. cit.
55 For a summary of evidence, see: Global Partnership for Education. Replenishing our financial
resources. Replenishment campaign for 2018–2020.
https://replenishment.globalpartnership.org/en/case-for-investment/
56 See, for example, E. Dabla-Norris, et al. (2015). Causes and consequences of income
inequality: a global perspective. IMF. https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/Staff-DiscussionNotes/Issues/2016/12/31/Causes-and-Consequences-of-Income-Inequality-A-GlobalPerspective-42986; E. Gould and A. Hijzen. (2017). In equality, we trust. Finance &
Development, March 2017, Vol. 54, No. 1. IMF.
https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2017/03/gould.htm (on cohesion and democratic
functioning); and J. Kunst, et al. (2017). Preferences for group dominance track and mediate
the effects of macro-level social inequality and violence across societies. Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences of the USA, vol. 114 no. 21. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1616572114.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28484013
57 IMF. Inequality: we can do something about it? . Accessed April 2017.
http://www.imf.org/external/spring/2017/mmedia/view.aspx?vid=5406736503001
58 OECD. (2011). Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, op. cit.
59 Ibid. Special Focus: Inequality in Emerging Economies (EEs).
https://www.oecd.org/els/soc/49170475.pdf
60 F. Alvaredo, L. Chancel, T. Piketty, E. Saez and G. Zucman. (2017). The World Inequality
Report 2018, op. cit.
61 Coady, D. and Dizioli, A. (2017). Income Inequality and Education Revisited: Persistence,
Endogeneity, and Heterogeneity. IMF.
https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2017/05/26/Income-Inequality-and-EducationRevisited-Persistence-Endogeneity-and-Heterogeneity-44854. Their analysis showed that a
net expansion of education – across all countries and regions – works to reduce income
inequality over time. This is hindered when inequality in education is high (or expansion has
not been fully realised at lower levels), and it could be enhanced ‘through a stronger focus on
reducing inequality in the quality of education’.
62 Ibid.
63 Ibid.
64 See D. Wadhwa. (19 September 2018). The number of extremely poor people continues to
rise in Sub-Saharan Africa. Data Blog. World Bank blogs.
https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/number-extremely-poor-people-continues-rise-subsaharan-africa. Accessed June 2019.
65 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for people & planet. Gender review.
UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/node/2606
66 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2018). Meeting our commitments to gender equality in
education. Gender review. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/2018_gender_review
67 Ibid.
68 See UNICEF. (2018). Child Marriage: Latest trends and future prospects.
https://data.unicef.org/resources/child-marriage-latest-trends-and-future-prospects/; ICRW
and Girls Not Brides. (2015). Taking action to address child marriage: the role of different
sectors. https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/resource-centre/child-marriage-brief-role-of-sectors/
69 ICRW and World Bank. (2017). Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis
Report. https://www.icrw.org/publications/economic-impacts-child-marriage/
60
70 Plan International. (2013). A girl’s right to say no to marriage: Working to end child marriage
and keep girls in school. https://plan-international.org/publications/girls-right-say-no-marriage
71 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives,
op. cit.
72 Demographic and Health Survey data from 29 countries across Africa and Latin America
showed a range of age differences between young wives and their husbands: from
Guatemala (where five years is the mean difference) to Guinea (where it is 14.2 years). See:
S. Clark, A. Bruce, A. Dude. (2006). Protecting Young Women from HIV/AIDS: The Case
Against Child and Adolescent Marriage. International Family Planning Perspectives, 2006,
32(2):79–88. https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/pubs/journals/3207906.pdf
73 UNFPA. (2013). Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy.
State of World Population 2013. https://www.unfpa.org/publications/state-world-population-
2013.
WHO. (2011). Preventing early pregnancy and poor reproductive outcomes among
adolescents in developing countries. WHO Guidelines.
https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/preventing_early_pregnancy/en/
74 Ibid.
75 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Girls’ education – the facts, op. cit.
76 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2010). Reaching the Marginalized. UNESCO.
https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2010/reaching-marginalized
77 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives, op. cit.
78 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
79 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives, op. cit.
80 Ibid.
81 Alvaredo, F. Chancel, L. Piketty, T. Saez, E & Zucman, G. (2017). The World Inequality
Report 2018, op. cit.
82 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
83 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018. Learning to Realize Education’s
Promise, op. cit.
84 J.B. Davies, J. Zhang, J. Zeng. (2005). Intergenerational Mobility under Private vs. Public
Education. The Scandinavian Journal of Economics. Volume 107, Issue 3, pp 399–417.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9442.2005.00415.x
85 See a review of evidence in D. Campbell. (2006). What is education’s impact on civil and
social engagement? In: OECD. (2006). Measuring the Effects of Education on Health and
Civic Engagement, op. cit.
86 See, for example, A. Smith, K. Lehman Shlozman, S. Verba and H. Brady. (2009). The
internet and civic engagement. Pew Research Center.
https://www.pewinternet.org/2009/09/01/the-internet-and-civic-engagement/
87 Afrobarometer. The online data analysis tool. http://afrobarometer.org/online-dataanalysis/analyse-online
88 See, for example, a review of data from Polity IV index and of related academic literature in
Glaeser E., Ponzetto G. and Shleifer A. (2006) Why does democracy need education? Op.
cit.
89 Ibid.
90 Afrobarometer. The online data analysis tool, op. cit.
91 Ibid.
92 Glaeser E., Ponzetto G. and Shleifer A. (2006) Why does democracy need education? Op.
cit.
61
93 Gradstein, M. and Justman, M. (2002). Education, Social Cohesion and Economic Growth.
American Economic Review, Vol. 92, No. 4, 2002.
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=361323
94 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018. Learning to Realize Education’s
Promise, op. cit.
95 S. Robertson. (23 April 2018). Recovering the Political in the Idea of Education as a Public
Good – and Why This Matters. Unite4Education. Education International.
https://www.unite4education.org/global-response/recovering-the-political-in-the-idea-ofeducation-as-a-public-good-and-why-this-matters/
96 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and challenges, op. cit.
97 Data from UNESCO Education Inequalities Database: https://www.educationinequalities.org/indicators/comp_upsec_v2#?sort=mean&dimension=all&group=all&age_grou
p=comp_upsec_v2&countries=all For more details, see methodology note
98 Ibid.
99 In the 67 such countries for which data is available. See: Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and
Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries to Achieve Global Convergence in
Learning. University of Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.7673
100 This refers to the richest quintiles and the poorest quintiles. Ibid.
101 Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd. (2018). Den sociale arv afspejler sig tydeligt i børns
karakterer. https://www.ae.dk/sites/www.ae.dk/files/dokumenter/analyse/ae_den-sociale-arvafspejler-sig-tydeligt-i-boerns-karakterer.pdf
102 Ibid.
103 According to the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) (op. cit.), 59% of rural
children are out of school, compared to 30% of urban children. The gap is wider for children
who have never attended school: 47% of rural children have not, compared to 14% of urban
children. See: https://www.educationinequalities.org/countries/senegal#?dimension=community&group=|Urban|Rural&year=latest
104 J. Walker. (2014). Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Inclusive Education for Children with
Disabilities. Global Campaign for Education.
http://campaignforeducation.org/docs/reports/Equal%20Right,%20Equal%20Opportunity_WE
B.pdf
105 Ibid.
106 See the following blog from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics on new data releases for
girls: S. Montoya. (7 March 2019). Data to Celebrate 50 Years of Progress on Girls’
Education. UIS Blog. http://uis.unesco.org/en/blog/data-celebrate-50-years-progress-girlseducation
107 National Family Health Survey India, op. cit.
108 Rose, P. and Alcott, B. (2015). How can education systems become equitable by 2030? Op.
cit.
109 OECD. (2011). Education at a Glance. 2011: OECD Indicators, op. cit.; OECD. (2011).
Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, op. cit.
110 International Trades Union Congress. (2017). ITUC Global Poll 2017. https://www.ituccsi.org/ituc-global-poll-2017
111 Narayan, A., et al. (2018). Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the
World. Equity and Development. World
Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/28428
112 GDIM. (2018). Global Database on Intergenerational Mobility. World Bank.
https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/brief/what-is-the-global-database-onintergenerational-mobility-gdim
113 The database ranks countries on two aspects of economic mobility: absolute, which
measures the share of people who exceed their parents’ standard of living or educational
62
attainment; and relative, which measures the extent to which a person’s position on the
economic scale is independent of his or her parents’ position. Ibid.
114 Ibid.
115 Narayan, A., et al. (2018). Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the
World, op. cit.
116 OECD. (2018). A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility.
http://www.oecd.org/social/broken-elevator-how-to-promote-social-mobility-9789264301085-
en.htm
117 Z. Faircloth. (15 September 2015). David Grusky on Social Mobility. The Samuel Dubois
Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. https://socialequity.duke.edu/news/davidgrusky-social-mobility
118 Greenstone, M., et al. (2013). Thirteen Economic Facts About Social Mobility and the Role
of Education. Brookings. The Hamilton Project. https://www.brookings.edu/research/thirteeneconomic-facts-about-social-mobility-and-the-role-of-education/
119 Nevins, A. (1968). James Truslow Adams: Historian of the American Dream. Urbana:
University of Illinois Press.
120 OECD. (2017). Educational Opportunity for All: Overcoming Inequality throughout the Life
Course, op. cit.
121 See, for example, F. Alvaredo, L. Chancel, T. Piketty, E. Saez and G. Zucman. (2017). The
World Inequality Report 2018, op. cit.
122 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2009). Overcoming Inequality: why
governance matters. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2009/overcominginequality-why-governance-matters
123 Raj, C., Hendren, N., Kline, P. and Saez, E. (2014). Where Is the Land of Opportunity? The
Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States. Quarterly Journal of Economics
129 (4): 1553–1623. https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qju022
124 Fair Progress? Economic Mobility Across Generations Around the World, op. cit.
125 Education Commission. (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a
changing world. https://report.educationcommission.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/09/Learning_Generation_Full_Report.pdf
126 Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries
to Achieve Global Convergence in Learning, op. cit. Education Commission Background
Paper; The Learning Generation.
127 That is, from the wealthiest 40%.
128 Taken from the World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), op. cit. The three lowest
quintiles all register as 0%, showing they have less than a 1% chance of completing a tertiary
education. The richest children have a 20% chance, and the second wealthiest quintile a 3%
chance.
129 Zubairi, A. and Rose, P. (2016). Raising domestic resources for equitable education. The
Education Commission. http://www.educationequity2030.org/resources-2/2017/3/23/raisingdomestic-resources-for-equitable-education
130 Ibid.
131 OECD. (2014). Indicator B1: How much is spent per student? in Education at a Glance
2014: Indicators by chapter. http://www.oecd.org/education/education-at-a-glance-2014-
indicators-by-chapter.htm
132 See for example rankings and analysis of country spending efforts on education in: M. Laws
and M. Martin. (2018). The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018, op. cit.
133 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Pricing the right to education: The cost of
reaching new targets by 2030. Policy Paper 18, July 2015 update. UNESCO.
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002321/232197E.pdf
134 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2017). More Than One-Half of Children and Adolescents
Are Not Learning Worldwide. Fact Sheet No. 46. UNESCO.
63
http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/fs46-more-than-half-children-not-learningen-2017.pdf
135 For a summary discussion of the evidence, see: J. Walker, et al. (2016) Private Profit Public
Loss: why the push for low-fee private schools is pushing quality education off-track. Global
Campaign for Education. https://www.campaignforeducation.org/en/2016/01/08/private-profitpublic-loss-why-the-push-for-low-fee-private-schools-is-throwing-quality-education-off-trackglobal-campaign-for-education-2016/
136 Ambrus, S. (22 February 2017). Can Voucher Schools Improve Education? Ask Chile. InterAmerican Development Bank blog. https://blogs.iadb.org/ideasmatter/2017/02/22/canvoucher-schools-improve-education-ask-chile/
137 Ibid.
138 Mizala, A and Torche, F. (2012). Bringing the schools back in: the stratification of
educational achievement in the Chilean voucher system. International Journal of Educational
Development. Volume 32, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 132–144.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2010.09.004
139 McEwan, PJ., Urquiola, M. and Vegas, E. (2008). School Choice, Stratification, and
Information on School Performance: Lessons from Chile. In: Economia: Journal of the Latin
American and Caribbean Economic Association, 8:1, 2015.
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/4754?locale-attribute=es
140 Hsieh, C. and Urquiola, M. (2006). The effects of generalized school choice on achievement
and stratification: Evidence from Chile’s voucher program. Journal of Public Economics, 90
(2006) pp1477–1503. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2005.11.002
141 Ibid.
142 McEwan, PJ., Urquiola, M. and Vegas, E. (2008). School Choice, Stratification, and
Information on School Performance, op. cit.
143 Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries
to Achieve Global convergence in Learning, op. cit.
144 The World Development Report 2018. (2018). Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, op.
cit.
145 Ibid.
146 OECD. (2011). Private schools: Who benefits? PISA in Focus 2011/7.
https://doi.org/10.1787/5k9h362mhtkd-en
147 Day, A. et al. (2014). The role and impact of private schools in developing countries: a
rigorous review of the evidence. Education Rigorous Literature Review. Department for
International Development.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_dat
a/file/439702/private-schools-full-report.pdf
148 Srivastava, P. (2013). Low-fee private schooling: issues and evidence. In: P. Srivastava
(Ed.) Low-fee Private Schooling: aggravating equity or mitigating disadvantage? Symposium
Books. http://www.symposium-books.co.uk/bookdetails/84/
149 Romero, M., et.al. (2017). Can a public-private partnership improve Liberia’s schools?
Center for Global Development and Innovations for Poverty Action.
https://www.cgdev.org/publication/can-public-private-partnership-improve-liberias-schools
150 Various country studies which demonstrate this, for example:
Barakat, S., Hardman, F., Rohwerder, B. and Rzeszut, K. (2012). Low-Cost Private Schools
in Afghanistan and Pakistan: What evidence to support sustainable scale-up? EPPI-Centre,
Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.
https://www.gov.uk/dfid-research-outputs/protocol-low-cost-private-schools-in-afghanistanand-pakistan-what-evidence-to-support-sustainable-scale-up
Heyneman, S.P., Stern, J.M.B. and Smith, T.M. (2011). The Search for Effective EFA
Policies: The Role of Private Schools for Low-income Children. USAID.
https://docplayer.net/21509662-The-search-for-effective-efa-policies-the-role-of-privateschools-for-lowincome.html
64
Riep, C. (2014). Omega Schools Franchise in Ghana. In: Macpherson, I., Robertson, S. and
Walford, G. (eds) (2014). Education, Privatisation and Social Justice: Case studies from
Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. Symposium Books. http://www.symposiumbooks.co.uk/bookdetails/88/
Joint CSO statement: “Just” $6 a month? The World Bank will not end poverty by promoting
fee-charging, for-profit schools in Kenya and Uganda. http://download.eiie.org/Docs/WebDepot/JoinstatementreactiontoWBstatementonBridge_EN.pdf
151 J. Walker et al. (2016). Private Profit Public Loss, op. cit.
152 World Bank. (2016). SABER (System Approach for Better Education Results) Senegal
country report 2016.
http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/104341492493448770/SABER-engaging-theprivate-sector-in-education-country-report-Senegal-2016
153 Macpherson, I., Robertson, S. and Walford, G. (eds) (2014). Education, Privatisation and
Social Justice: Case studies from Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, op. cit.
154 See World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE), op. cit.
155 Afridi, M. (2018). Equity and Quality in an Education Public-Private Partnership: A study of
the World Bank-supported PPP in Punjab, Pakistan, op. cit.
156 Balarin, M. (2015). The Default Privatization of Peruvian Education and the Rise of Low-fee
Private Schools: Better or Worse Opportunities for the Poor? Open Society Foundations.
http://www.grade.org.pe/en/publicaciones/the-default-privatization-of-peruvian-educationand-the-rise-of-low-fee-private-schools-better-or-worse-opportunities-for-the-poor/
157 Cuellar Marcelli, H. (2002). Decentralization and Privatization of Education in El Salvador:
assessing the experience. International Journal of Educational Development. Volume 23,
Issue 2, March 2003, Pages 145–166. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0738-0593(02)00011-1
158 A. Termes, Bonal, X. Verger, A. and Zancajo, A. (2015). Public-Private Partnerships in
Colombian Education: The Equity and Quality Implications of ‘Colegios en concesión’.
University of Amsterdam. https://dare.uva.nl/search?identifier=732c108e-442b-4181-80c9-
4e2b5a5f16a0
159 Adamson, F. (2016). Privatization or Public Investment in Education? Stanford Center for
Opportunity Policy in Education, Stanford University.
https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/scope-investment-public-ed-brieffinal.pdf
160 Verger, A. and Moschetti, M. (2016). Public-Private Partnerships in Education: Exploring
Models and Policy Options. http://s3.amazonaws.com/inee-assets/resources/OSFINEE_PPP-roundtable_Framing-paper_Verger-Moschetti_ePPPs_(1).pdf
161 Day Ashley L, et al. (2014). The role and impact of private schools in developing countries.
Education Rigorous Literature Review. DFID, University of Birmingham, IOE London, ODI.
162 Such as: Sahoo, S. (2015). Intra-household gender disparity in school choice: evidence from
private schooling in India. University of Goettingen; Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.
https://www.isid.ac.in/~soham9r/doc/pvt_paper.pdf
Maitra, P., Pal, S. and Sharma, A. (2016) Absence of Altruism? Female Disadvantage in
Private School Enrolment in India. World Development. Volume 85, September 2016, Pages
105–125. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2016.04.005
Alcott, B. and Rose, P. (2015) Schools and learning in rural India and Pakistan: Who goes
where, and how much are they learning? Prospects, 45 (2015), 345-363.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-015-9350-5
163 Macpherson, I. Robertson, S. and Walford G (eds). (2014). Case studies from Africa, South
Asia and South East Asia, op. cit.
164 Ibid.
165 E. Seery. (2014). Working for the Many: Public services fight inequality, op. cit.
166 See endnote 24 for a full explanation.
65
167 UNESCO. (9 July 2019). UNESCO projections show countries are off track for meeting their
education commitments for 2030. Press release. https://en.unesco.org/news/unescoprojections-show-countries-are-track-meeting-their-education-commitments-2030
168 Winthrop, R. and McGivney, E. (2015). Why wait 100 years? Bridging the gap in global
education. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/why-wait-100-years-bridging-thegap-in-global-education/
169 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018. Learning to Realize Education’s
Promise, op. cit.
170 Ibid.
171 The Lancet. (2016). Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale. 2016
Early Childhood Development Series. https://www.thelancet.com/series/ECD2016
172 Favara, M. et al. (2017). Pre-school Education and Skills Development in Peru, Vietnam,
Ethiopia, and India: Evidence from Young Lives. World Bank.
173 Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B. and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries
to Achieve Global convergence in Learning, op. cit.
174 Ibid.
175 Black, et al. (2017). Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and
middle-income countries. The Lancet, Maternal and Child Nutrition | Volume 382, Issue
9890, pp 427–451. August 03, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60937-X
176 See: chapter 5 in the World Development Report 2018, op. cit, for a good discussion of the
available evidence.
177 See, for example, OECD. (2017). Starting Strong 2017: Key OECD Indicators on Early
Childhood Education and Care. https://www.oecd.org/education/starting-strong-2017-
9789264276116-en.htm; or OECD. (2017). Educational Opportunity for All: Overcoming
Inequality throughout the Life Course, op. cit.
178 World Development Report 2018, op. cit. and Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S.
(2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries to Achieve Global convergence in
Learning, op. cit. This has been shown to be the case in Bangladesh. See: Aboud, F. E., and
Hossain, K. (2011). The impact of preprimary school on primary school achievement in
Bangladesh. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 26(2), 237–246.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2010.07.001. The same is true in Bolivia and Colombia. See:
Rose, P and Alcott, B. (2015). How can education systems become equitable by 2030? op.
cit.
179 Education Commission (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a
changing world, op. cit.
180 See: Right to Education. Privatisation of Education. http://www.right-to-education.org/issuepage/privatisation-education. Accessed July 2019.
181 The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) – Article 13,
General Comment 13 (as summarized in Right to Education project. (2015). International
Instruments: Right to Education and the Role of Private Actors in Education.
https://www.right-to-education.org/sites/right-to-education.org/files/resourceattachments/RTE_International_Instruments_Privatisation_Nov_2015_0.pdf) and the Abidjan
Principles on the Right to Education. (2019). https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/
182 The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966, Article
13; CESCR General Comment 13, 1999: Para. 30: https://www.right-toeducation.org/resource/cescr-general-comment-13-right-education-article-13
183 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018, op. cit.
184 United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to education. (2019). Right to education: the
implementation of the right to education and Sustainable Development Goal 4 in the context
of the growth of private actors in education. https://documents-ddsny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G19/104/10/PDF/G1910410.pdf?OpenElement
185 K.M. Bous and J. Farr. (2019). False Promises, op. cit.
66
186 W.C. Smith and T. Baker. (2017). From Free to Fee: Are For-Profit, Fee-Charging Private
Schools the Solution for the World’s Poor? RESULTS Educational Fund. https://www.right-toeducation.org/resource/free-fee-are-profit-fee-charging-private-schools-solution-world-s-poor
187 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
188 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and challenges, op. cit.
189 See calculations in Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming
Inequalities Within Countries to Achieve Global convergence in Learning, op. cit
190 UNICEF. (7 September 2016). Nearly 50 million children “uprooted” worldwide. Press
release. https://www.unicef.org/media/media_92725.html
191 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018, op. cit.
192 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2019). Migration, displacement and education:
building bridges, not walls. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2019/migration
193 F. Menashy and Z. Zakharia. (2017). Investing in the crisis: Private participation in the
education of Syrian refugees. Education International. https://www.right-toeducation.org/resource/investing-crisis-private-participation-education-syrian-refugees
194 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for all Global Monitoring report
background paper 21: Humanitarian Aid for Education: Why It Matters and Why More is
Needed. UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/humanitarian-aid-education-why-itmatters-and-why-more-needed
195 Bell Weixler, L., Barrett, N., Harris, D.N. and Jenning, J. (2017). Did the New Orleans
School Reforms Increase Segregation? Education Research Alliance for New Orleans,
Tulane University. https://educationresearchalliancenola.org/publications/did-the-neworleans-school-reforms-increase-segregation
196 Ibid.
197. F. Heubler and E. Legault. (June 2017). The World’s Families: Hidden Funders of
Education. UNESCO Institute of Statistics blog. http://uis.unesco.org/en/blog/worlds-familieshidden-funders-education
198 World Bank and UNICEF. (2009). Abolishing School Fees in Africa: lessons from Ethiopia,
Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.
http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/780521468250868445/Abolishing-school-fees-inAfrica-lessons-from-Ethiopia-Ghana-Kenya-Malawi-and-Mozambique
199 Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network and the World Bank.
(2002). The Policy Roots of Economic Crisis and Poverty: A Multi-Country Participatory
Assessment of Structural Adjustment. http://www.saprin.org/SAPRI_Findings.pdf
200 World Bank and UNICEF. (2009). Abolishing School Fees in Africa, op. cit.
201 This is taken from UNESCO Institute of Statistics database (http://uis.unesco.org), using
regional averages for out-of-school children (primary school). This grew from 28,062,744 to
32,311,031.
202 World Bank and UNICEF. (2009). Abolishing School Fees in Africa, op. cit.
203 This is taken from UNESCO Institute of Statistics database (http://uis.unesco.org), using
regional averages for out-of-school children (primary school). This declined from 32,311,031
to 19,778,732.
204 See speech given by Ghanaian President Akufo Ado, op. cit.
205 Omoeva, C., Chaluda, A., Smith, W., Wael, M., Hatch, R. and Smith, W.C. (2016). Financing
Education Equity: A Study of Three Country Cases.
http://www.educationequity2030.org/resources-2/2017/1/26/financing-education-equity-astudy-of-three-country-cases. Background paper for: Education Commission (2016). The
Learning Generation: Investing in education for a changing world, op. cit.
206 Lawson, M. and Martin, M. (2017). The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index.
Development Finance International and Oxfam. DOI: 10.21201/2017.0131. https://policy
67
practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/the-commitment-to-reducing-inequality-index-a-newglobal-ranking-of-governments-620316
207 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and challenges, op. cit.
208 F. Heubler and E. Legault. (June 2017). The World’s Families: Hidden Funders of
Education, op. cit.
209 Omoeva, C., Chaluda, A., Smith, W., Wael, M., Hatch, R. and Smith, W.C. (2016). Financing
Education Equity, op. cit.
210 UNESCO Institute of Statistics Database: http://uis.unesco.org
211 J. Walker, et al. (2016). Private Profit Public Loss, op. cit.
212 C. Riep and M. Machacek. (2016). Schooling the Poor Profitably: the innovations and
deprivations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda. Education International. Available
at: http://bit.ly/2cSQidq. Accessed July 2019.
213 Ibid.
214 High Court of Uganda, Civil Division, Ruling on Misc. Cause No 160 of 2016. Bridge
International Academies (K) Ltd versus Attorney General. Available at: http://bit.ly/2ftsYIy.
Accessed July 2019.
215 OECD. (2011). Equity and Quality in Education – Supporting Disadvantaged Students and
Schools. http://www.oecd.org/education/school/equityandqualityineducationsupportingdisadvantagedstudentsandschools.htm
216 This is based on the international benchmarks from the PISA OECD scores. Education for
All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all.
https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2014/teaching-and-learning-achieving-quality-all
217 OECD report on PISA 2012 Results. Excellence through Equity: Giving Every Student a
Chance to Succeed. Volume 2. http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-resultsvolume-ii.htm
218 Partanen, A. (29 December 2011.) What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School
Success. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americanskeep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/
219 OECD. (2011). Education at a Glance. 2011: OECD Indicators, op. cit.; OECD. (2011).
Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising, op. cit. OECD. (2011). Equity and Quality in
Education – Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools, op. cit.
220 On the 2012 OECD PISA exams. This is highlighted in World Bank. (2018). World
Development Report 2018, op. cit.
221 Partanen, A. What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success, op. cit.
222 See Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Education, PISA webpage:
https://www.hm.ee/en/activities/statistics-and-analysis/pisa. Accessed July 2019.
223 See: ERR News. (22 November 2017). Estonia leads PISA study’s teamwork ranking.
https://news.err.ee/644150/estonia-leads-pisa-study-s-teamwork-ranking. Accessed July
2019.
224 See: Republic of Estonia, Ministry of Education, PISA webpage, op. cit.
225 See: S. Butrymowicz. (23 June 2016). Is Estonia the New Finland?
https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/06/is-estonia-the-new-finland/488351/.
Accessed July 2019.
226 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Pricing the right to education: The cost of
reaching new targets by 2030, op. cit. Note: if lower-middle income countries are included,
the minimum cost rises to $403 per student.
227 There is also a good discussion of case studies that exemplify these messages in:
Adamson, F.; Astrand, B.; Darling-Hammond, L. (eds). (2016). Global education reform: how
privatization and public investment influence education outcomes. Routledge.
https://www.routledge.com/Global-Education-Reform-How-Privatization-and-PublicInvestment-Influence/Adamson-Astrand-Darling-Hammond/p/book/9781138930568
68
228 Goldman, E. (1931). Living My Life. New York: Alfred A Knopf, Inc.
229 Global Campaign for Education and Education International. (2012). Closing the trained
teacher gap, op. cit.
230 McEwan. (2015). Improving Learning in Primary Schools of Developing Countries: A MetaAnalysis of Randomized Experiments. Review of Educational Research. September 2015,
Vol. 85, No. 3, pp. 353–394. https://doi.org/10.3102%2F0034654314553127
231 Ibid.
232 Ibid.
233 Ibid.
234 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality
for all, op. cit.
235 UIS Factsheet. (2016). The World Needs Almost 69 Million New Teachers to Reach The
2030 Education Goals. http://uis.unesco.org/en/document/world-needs-almost-69-millionnew-teachers-reach-2030-education-goals
236 Davidson, M. and Hobbs, J. (2013). Delivering reading intervention to the poorest children:
The case of Liberia and EGRA-Plus, a primary grade reading assessment and intervention.
International Journal of Educational Development, Vol. 33.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2012.09.005
237 Refers to the wealthiest and poorest quintiles. Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B. and Ilie, S.
(2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries to Achieve Global convergence in
Learning, op. cit.
238 Global Campaign for Education and Education International. (2012). Closing the trained
teacher gap, op. cit.
239 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our
commitments, op. cit.
240 Ibid.
241 Ibid.
242 Global Campaign for Education and Education International. (2012). Closing the trained
teacher gap, op. cit.
243 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality
for all, op. cit.
244 Pritchett, L, and Beatty, A. (2012). The Negative Consequences of Overambitious Curricula
in Developing Countries. CGD Working Paper 293. Center for Global Development.
https://www.cgdev.org/publication/negative-consequences-overambitious-curriculadeveloping-countries-working-paper-293
245 Ibid.
246 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018, op. cit.
247 Muralidharan, K., and Zieleniak, Y. (2013). Measuring learning trajectories in developing
countries with longitudinal data and item response theory. Presentation for Young Lives
Conference, Oxford.
248 Rolleston, et al. (2013). Exploring the effect of educational opportunity and inequality on
learning outcomes in Ethiopia, Peru, India, and Vietnam.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000225938. Background paper prepared for:
Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality
for all, op. cit.
249 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2019). Building bridges for gender equality: gender
report 2019, op. cit.
250 Blumberg, R. (2007). Gender bias in textbooks: a hidden obstacle on the road to gender
equality in education. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000155509
69
251 OECD. (2017). PISA 2015 Collaborative Problem-Solving Framework. https://www.oecdilibrary.org/education/pisa-2015-assessment-and-analytical-framework/pisa-2015-
collaborative-problem-solving-framework_9789264281820-8-en
252 World Economic Forum. (2017). Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial
Revolution an Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work.
https://www.weforum.org/whitepapers/realizing-human-potential-in-the-fourth-industrialrevolution
253 Glewwe, P., et al. (2011). School Resources and Educational Outcomes in Developing
Countries: a review of the literature from 1990 to 2010. National Bureau of Economic
Research. DOI: 10.3386/w17554. https://www.nber.org/papers/w17554; and Fox, J. A.
(2015). Social accountability: what does the evidence really say? World Development,
Volume 72, August 2015, Pages 346–361. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.03.011
254 Pritchett, L., and Beatty, A. (2015). Slow down, you’re going too fast: Matching curricula to
student skill levels. International Journal of Educational Development, 40(2015), 276–288.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2014.11.013
255 Ibid.
256 World Bank. (2018). The World Development Report 2018, op. cit.
257 Zubairi, A. and Rose, P. (2016). Raising domestic resources for equitable education, op. cit.
258 Walter, S. and Benson, C. (2012). Language policy and medium of instruction in formal
education. In Spolsky, B. (ed). The Cambridge Handbook of Language Policy, pp 278–300.
Cambridge University Press.
259 Education Commission. (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a
changing world, op. cit.
260 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Policy Paper 24. If you don’t understand, how
can you learn? UNESCO. https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/if-you-don%E2%80%99tunderstand-how-can-you-learn
261 Ibid.
262 Mackenzie, P. and Walker, J. (2013). Mother-tongue education: policy lessons for quality
and inclusion. Global Campaign for Education.
https://www.campaignforeducation.org/en/2013/03/05/mother-tongue-education-policylessons-for-quality-and-inclusion/
263 Ibid.
264 Ibid
265 Nichols, S. and Berliner, D. (2007). Collateral Damage: How High-Stakes Testing Corrupts
America’s Schools. Harvard Education Press.
266 Lewin, K. (2017). The Educational Challenges of Transition: Key Issues Low- and LowerMiddle-Income Countries and GPE Toward 2030. Global Partnership for Education working
paper. https://www.globalpartnership.org/content/educational-challenges-transition-keyissues-2030
267 Greaney, V. and Kellaghan, T. (2008). Assessing National Achievement Levels in
Education. National Assessments of Educational Achievement. World Bank.
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6904
268 Lewin, K. (2017). The Educational Challenges of Transition, op. cit.
269 The Guardian. (6 May 2014). OECD and Pisa tests are damaging education worldwide –
academics. Open letter. https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/may/06/oecd-pisatests-damaging-education-academics
270 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our
commitments, op. cit.
271 Ibid.
272 See Hirschman, A.O. (1970). Exit, voice, and loyalty: responses to decline in firms,
organizations, and states. Harvard University Press.
70
273 C. Pearce, et al. (2017). Public good over private profit: A toolkit for civil society to resist the
privatisation of education. Global Campaign for Education.
https://www.campaignforeducation.org/docs/privatisation/Public_Good_Over_Private_Profit_
TOOLKIT_EN.pdf
274 Day, A. et al. (2014). The role and impact of private schools in developing countries: a
rigorous review of the evidence, op. cit.
275 OECD. (2007). No More Failures: Ten Steps to Equity in Education.
http://www.oecd.org/education/school/nomorefailurestenstepstoequityineducation.htm
276 Laugharn, P. (2007). Negotiating education for many: enrolment, dropout and persistence in
the community schools of Kolondièba, Mali. CREATE Research Monograph No. 14.
University of Sussex. http://www.create-rpc.org/pdf_documents/PTA14.pdf
277 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our
commitments, op. cit.
278 Ibid.
279 Walker, J. and Mowé, K. (2016). Financing Matters: A Toolkit on Domestic Financing for
Education. Global Campaign for Education, Education International and ActionAid.
https://www.campaignforeducation.org/docs/resources/GCE%20Financing_Matters_EN_WE
B.pdf
280 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Accountability in education: Meeting our
commitments, op. cit.
281 UNESCO. (2018). Walk before you run: the challenges of results-based payments in
education. Policy Paper 33. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000261149; see also
Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid in Education and Results for Development. (2016).
Paying for Performance: An Analysis of Output-Based Aid in Education. pp. 1.
http://www.gprba.org/sites/gpoba/files/Docs/Paying_for_Performance_-
_An_Analysis_of_Output-Based_Aid_in_Education_R4D_Final.pdf
282 World Bank. (18 May 2015). World Bank Group Doubles Results-Based Financing for
Education to US$5 Billion over Next 5 Years. Press release.
https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2015/05/18/world-bank-group-doublesresults-based-financing-for-education-to-us5-billion-over-next-5-years
283 National Research Council. (2011). Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education.
DOI: ttps://doi.org/10.17226/12521. https://www.nap.edu/catalog/12521/incentives-and-testbased-accountability-in-education Also see discussion of findings in V. Strauss. (28 May
2011). Report: Test-based incentives don’t produce real student achievement. The
Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/report-testbased-incentives-dont-produce-real-studentachievement/2011/05/28/AG39wXDH_blog.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.14992e93d4cb
284 Rhodes, F., Parvez, A., and Harvey, R. (2017). An Economy that Works for Women:
Achieving women’s economic empowerment in an increasingly unequal world. Oxfam. DOI:
10.21201/2017.9019. https://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/an-economy-thatworks-for-women-achieving-womens-economic-empowerment-in-an-inc-620195
285 Human Development Report. Gender Inequality Index.
http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/gender-inequality-index-gii
World Economic Forum. (2018). The Global Gender Gap Report. 2018.
http://weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap
286 D. Vázquez Pimentel, I. Macías Aymar and M. Lawson. (2018). Reward Work, Not Wealth:
To end the inequality crisis, we must build an economy for ordinary working people, not the
rich and powerful. Oxfam. DOI: 10.21201/2017.1350. https://policypractice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/reward-work-not-wealth-to-end-the-inequality-crisis-wemust-build-an-economy-fo-620396
287 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2013). Education Transforms Lives, op. cit.
288 Rhodes, F., Parvez, A., and Harvey, R. (2017). An Economy that Works for Women, op. cit.
289 E Samman, E Presler-Marshall, N Jones et al. (2016). Women’s work: mothers, children and
the global childcare crisis. Overseas Development Institute.
https://www.odi.org/publications/10349-women-s-work-mothers-children-and-global
71
childcare-crisis. Additionally, according to the UN The World’s Women 2015 report, women
spend 30 minutes a day longer than men on paid and unpaid work in developed countries
and 50 minutes longer in developing countries. See United Nations Statistics Division. The
World’s Women 2015: Trends and Statistics.
http://unstats.un.org/unsd/gender/worldswomen.html
290 Man-Kwun, C. (2018). Unpaid Care – Why and How to Invest: Policy briefing for national
governments. Oxfam. DOI: 10.21201/2017.1602. https://policypractice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/unpaid-care-why-and-how-to-invest-policy-briefing-fornational-governments-620406
291 Cassirer and Addati (2007) in: OECD Development Centre. (2014). Unpaid Care Work: The
missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes, p. 9.
https://www.oecd.org/dev/development-gender/Unpaid_care_work.pdf
292 UNICEF. (2019). A World Ready to Learn: Prioritizing quality early childhood education.
https://www.unicef.org/reports/a-world-ready-to-learn-2019
293 UNICEF. (2019). A World Ready to Learn: Prioritizing quality early childhood education.
https://www.unicef.org/reports/a-world-ready-to-learn-2019
294 E Samman, E Presler-Marshall, N Jones et al. (2016). Women’s work: mothers, children and
the global childcare crisis, op. cit.
295 Ibid.
296 Ibid.
297 Calculated from figures available in: Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education
for People and Planet, op. cit. School year ending in 2014.
298 Education represented 4.4% of total global employment. See: ILO. (2015). World
Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2015. https://www.ilo.org/global/research/globalreports/weso/2015/lang–en/index.htm. See also: ILO. Which sector will create the most jobs?
http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/multimedia/maps-and-charts/WCMS_337082/lang–
en/index.htm
299 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
300 S. Coughlan. (10 April 2014). Highest ever number of school staff. BBC News. Accessed
July 2019. www.bbc.com/news/education-26973916
301 U.S. Department of Labor. Most Common Occupations for Women in the Labor Force.
https://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/employment-earnings-occupations.htm#mostcommon
302 Riep, C. (2015). Corporatised education in the Philippines: Pearson, Ayala Corporation and
the emergence of Affordable Private Education Centers (APEC). Education International.
https://www.right-to-education.org/resource/corporatised-education-philippines-pearsonayala-corporation-and-emergence-affordable
303 Riep, C. and Machacek, M. (2016). Schooling the Poor Profitably: the innovations and
deprivations of Bridge International Academies in Uganda. Education International.
https://www.right-to-education.org/resource/schooling-poor-profitably-innovations-anddeprivations-bridge-international-academies.
304 Macpherson, I., Robertson, S. and Walford, G. (eds) (2014). Education, Privatisation and
Social Justice: Case studies from Africa, South Asia and South East Asia, op. cit.
305 M. Afridi. (2017). Understanding the Work of Female Teachers in Low Fee Private Schools
in Punjab, Pakistan. University of Toronto. http://hdl.handle.net/1807/80747. See here for a
summary: M. Afridi. (22 September 2017). Pakistan: Questioning Gender and Teachers’
Work in Low Fee Private Schools. Unite4Education blog. Education International.
https://www.unite4education.org/global-response/pakistan-questioning-gender-and-teacherswork-in-low-fee-private-schools/
306 Global Campaign for Education and Education International. (2012). Closing the trained
teacher gap, op. cit.
307 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Pricing the right to education: The cost of
reaching new targets by 2030, op. cit. In low- and lower middle-income countries the cost is
projected to increase from $149bn in 2012 to $340bn by 2030.
308 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2016). Education for People and Planet, op. cit.
72
309 See video: English webcast: GPE Financing Conference.

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310 UNICEF. (2017). Generation 2030 Africa 2.0 Prioritizing investments in children to reap the
demographic dividend. https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_101219.html
311 Education Commission (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a
changing world, op. cit.
312 Lewin, K. (2017). The Educational Challenges of Transition, op. cit.
313 Education Commission (2016). The Learning Generation: Investing in education for a
changing world, op. cit.
314 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and Learning:
Achieving quality education for all, op. cit.
315 See Cobham, A. and Klees, S. (2016). Global Taxation: Financing Education and the Other
Sustainable Development Goals. Background Paper for the Education Commission.
https://www.globaltaxjustice.org/sites/default/files/Global-Taxation-Financing-Education.pdf
316 For an explanation of tax avoidance, which is legal, but often deemed morally questionable,
see: Tax Justice Network. Tax Avoidance. https://www.taxjustice.net/faq/tax-avoidance/
317 This is based on UNESCO estimates that, between 2015 to 2030, $50.4bn is required
annually to scale up quality education from pre-primary to upper secondary in low-income
countries. See Table 2 in: Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2015). Pricing the right
to education: The cost of reaching new targets by 2030, op. cit.
318 See: Education 2030. Incheon Declaration.
http://uis.unesco.org/sites/default/files/documents/education-2030-incheon-framework-foraction-implementation-of-sdg4-2016-en_2.pdf
319 Global Education Monitoring Report. (2017). Aid to Education is Stagnating and Not Going
to Countries Most in Need. UNESCO. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000249568
320 Ibid.
321 Ibid
322 Ibid
323 Martinez-Vazquez, J., Moreno-Dodson, B., and V. Vulovic. (2012). The Impact of Tax and
Expenditure Policies on Income Distribution: Evidence from a Large Panel of Countries.
https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2188608. Uses a global panel study by Martinez-Vazquez and
Moreno-Dodson of incidence studies covering 150 countries, over a 30-year period (1970 to
2009).
324 This includes public spending on health and social protection. See: OECD. (2015). In It
Together: Why Less Inequality Benefits All. https://www.oecd.org/social/in-it-together-whyless-inequality-benefits-all-9789264235120-en.htm
325 Lustig, N. (2015). The Redistributive Impact of Government Spending on Education and
Health: Evidence from Thirteen Developing Countries in the Commitment to Equity project.
Commitment to Equity. http://repec.tulane.edu/RePEc/ceq/ceq30.pdf. Note: spending can be
equalizing and not pro-poor. In developing countries in this study, it was shown that
education, as a whole, is pro-poor and equalizing, but the former effect weakens in later
levels of education. Thus, primary school spending was both pro-poor and equalizing;
secondary school spending was less so, and tertiary education spending tends to be
progressive only in relative terms (i.e. equalizing but not pro-poor).
326 In the two countries for which this is not the case – Afghanistan and Cambodia –education
spending is still more than 90% of per capita income for the poorest.
327 See endnote 14 for a full explanation.
328 Ibid.
329 E. Seery. (2014). Working for the Many: Public services fight inequality, op. cit.
330 Ibid.
73
331 Bastagli, F., D. Coady, and S. Gupta. (2012). Fiscal Policy and Income Inequality. IMF Staff
Discussion Note 12/08. https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sdn/2012/sdn1208.pdf
332 Data on the 20% richest families vs. the 20% poorest families. National Family Health
Survey India, op. cit.
333 Sahoo, S. and S. Klasen. (2018). Gender segregation in education and its implications for
labour market outcomes: Evidence from India.
https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/179967/1/1025479432.pdf
334 Borooah, V. K. (2012). Social Identity and Educational Attainment: The Role of Caste and
Religion in Explaining Differences between Children in India. The Journal of Development
Studies, 48(7), 887–903. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2011.621945
335 Chadha, N. and Nandwani, B. (2018). Ethnic fragmentation, public good provision and
inequality in India, 1988–2012. Oxford Development Studies. Volume 46, 2018, Issue 3, pp
363–367. https://doi.org/10.1080/13600818.2018.1434498
336 The Probe Team. (1999). PROBE: The Public Report on Basic Education in India. Oxford
University Press.
https://www.undp.org/content/dam/india/docs/public_report_basic_education_india.pdf
337 Nambissan GB and Sedwal, M. Education for All: The Situation of Dalit Children in India. In:
Govinda R. (ed). (2002). India Education Report. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp.
72–86.
338 Rao, G. (2018). Familiarity Does Not Breed Contempt: Generosity, Discrimination and
Diversity in Delhi schools. https://scholar.harvard.edu/rao/publications/familiarity-does-notbreed-contempt-diversity-discrimination-and-generosity-delhi
339 S. Chettri. (23 December 2018). With just 3 months left in session, DoE yet to fill over 1,200
seats for children with special needs. Times of India.
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/with-just-3-monthsleft-in-session-doe-yet-to-fillover-1200-seats-for-children-withspecial-needs/articleshow/67222271.cms
340 T. Kumar. Household-level effects of affordable housing: Evidence from Mumbai. Ideas for
India. https://www.ideasforindia.in/topics/human-development/india-seducation-quandarylearning-from-learning-outcomes.html
341 UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (2011). Financing Education in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Meeting the Challenges of Expansion, Equity and Quality.
https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000192186.
342 Walker, J. (2017). Spending Beyond Education: Supporting Education Through
Complementary SDG Spending. https://report.educationcommission.org/wpcontent/uploads/2016/11/Spending-Beyond-Education.pdf. Education Commission
Background Paper for The Learning Generation, op. cit.
343 World Bank. (2012). Do School Feeding Programs Help Children?
http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTHDOFFICE/Resources/SchoolFeedE2P.pdf
344 Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving quality
for all, op. cit.
345 Unfortunately, these successes are now under threat due to new spending restrictions. See
Brazil text box in Watkins, K. and Alemayehu, W. (2012). Financing for a Fairer, More
Prosperous Kenya: A review of the public spending challenges and options for selected Arid
and Semi- Arid counties. Brookings. https://www.brookings.edu/research/financing-for-afairer-more-prosperous-kenya-a-review-of-the-public-spending-challenges-and-options-forselected-arid-and-semi-arid-counties/. See also OECD PISA 2012 data on Brazil:
https://www.oecd.org/brazil/PISA-2012-results-brazil.pdf
346 Ibid.
347 On 2012 OECD PISA exams. This is highlighted in World Bank (2018). World Development
Report 2018, op. cit.
348 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and challenges, op. cit.
349 Ibid.
74
350 UNDP Vietnam. (2015). Growth that works for all: Viet Nam Human Development Report
2015 on Inclusive Growth.
http://www.vn.undp.org/content/vietnam/en/home/library/poverty/human-development-reportviet-nam-2015/
351 VHLSS data quoted in Oxfam in Vietnam. (2018). Social Mobility and Equality of Opportunity
in Vietnam: Trends and impact factors. https://cng-cdn.oxfam.org/vietnam.oxfam.org/s3fspublic/file_attachments/Oxfam_Social%20mobility%20and%20equality%20of%20opportunity
%20in%20Vietnam_ENG.pdf
352 Lo Thi Duc and Nguyen Thi Ngoc. Findings from the Vietnam Household Living Standards
Survey 2012. GSO–World Bank.
353 Education for All Global Education Monitoring Report. (2015). Education for All 2000–2015:
Achievements and challenges, op. cit.
354 Rolleston, et al. (2013). Exploring the effect of educational opportunity and inequality on
learning outcomes in Ethiopia, Peru, India, and Vietnam, op. cit. Background paper prepared
for: Education for All Global Monitoring Report. (2014). Teaching and learning: Achieving
quality for all, op. cit.
355 Ibid.
356 Ibid
357 Ibid.
358 Rose, P. Sabates, R. Alcott, B and Ilie, S. (2017). Overcoming Inequalities Within Countries
to Achieve Global convergence in Learning, op. cit.
359 Ibid.
360 Ibid.
75
www.oxfam.org
OXFAM
Oxfam is an international confederation of 19 organizations networked together
in more than 90 countries, as part of a global movement for change, to build a
future free from the injustice of poverty. Please write to any of the agencies for
further information, or visit www.oxfam.org
Oxfam America (www.oxfamamerica.org)
Oxfam Australia (www.oxfam.org.au)
Oxfam-in-Belgium (www.oxfamsol.be)
Oxfam Brasil (www.oxfam.org.br)
Oxfam Canada (www.oxfam.ca)
Oxfam France (www.oxfamfrance.org)
Oxfam Germany (www.oxfam.de)
Oxfam GB (www.oxfam.org.uk)
Oxfam Hong Kong (www.oxfam.org.hk)
Oxfam IBIS (Denmark) (www.oxfamibis.dk)
Observer:
KEDV (Oxfam Turkey)
Oxfam India (www.oxfamindia.org)
Oxfam Intermón (Spain) (www.oxfamintermon.org)
Oxfam Ireland (www.oxfamireland.org)
Oxfam Italy (www.oxfamitalia.org)
Oxfam Mexico (www.oxfammexico.org)
Oxfam New Zealand (www.oxfam.org.nz)
Oxfam Novib (Netherlands) (www.oxfamnovib.nl)
Oxfam Québec (www.oxfam.qc.ca)
Oxfam South Africa (www.oxfam.org.za)

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