Globally there are some fundamental challenges in education –with 121 million primary or lower secondary age children out of school (EFAGMR 2015) and 250 million children who are in school but not learning. The new Sustainable Development Goal on education establishes ambitious targets and to finance the achievement of these we need a radical shift, a rebuilding of confidence in the capacity of the governments to finance public education that is of good quality – and that can only come from a substantial scaling up of investment.
Fundamentally education is a long term investment that requires predictable financing. It is not a short term, one-off, quick win. The major returns to investment in education accrue over 10 or more years (when a child completes their education and contributes to their society). The biggest single costs are recurrent costs – especially for teacher salaries. Aid is seen as both too short term and too unpredictable to cover such costs. We need systemic solutions and sustainable financing – features that are most closely identified with tax.