UNESCO says money spent on education is not commensurate with its importance

Priyadarshani Joshi, a research official in UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report group, said the amount of money spent on education does not match the view that education is important.

No one is arguing that education isn’t important, “but the money doesn’t seem to be going up,” Joshi tells CNBC Squawk Box Asia Last Friday when she spoke on the GEM report released by the United Nations agency in April.

About $4.7 trillion is spent on education worldwide every year, with only 0.5% of that being spent in low-income countries, according to 2019 version of the GEM Report.

Over the long term, Joshi says, the GEM Report will show that the annual financial gap needed for basic education could be “commensurate with three days of military spending”.

Education is one of the most effective ways to train or empower women to empower their communities.

Priyadarshani Joshi

UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report

‘Gender consequences’

“Education is one of the most effective ways to train or empower women, to empower their communities,” Joshi stressed that women in low-income countries are disproportionately affected. due to inadequate educational funding.

That has happened during the Covid-19 pandemic, she added, because boys and girls in developing countries don’t face the same setbacks when schools are closed.

Girls, she said, face “gender consequences” such as lack of access to electronic devices, limited time use and an increased risk of early pregnancy.

Despite the reduction in the gender gap in schooling and attendance over the past two decades, illiteracy among women in developing countries remains a dilemma.

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While parents in countries like Bangladesh, Jordan and Pakistan don’t want their daughters to use smartphones, “boys have a little better accessibility … this could help. they keep learning.”

She says there is a need for “very basic things” in girls’ education, such as better textbooks, gender-sensitive training and leadership modeling, which are valuable. “a few million and a few billion can add trillions to the global economy.”

Teachers also bear the brunt of school closures as many are forced to quit or have their pay cut.

“Teaching is a very feminized profession,” said Joshi. “So in many countries, teachers really have to suffer from ‘paying less’.”


The gender gap in schooling and attendance has narrowed over the past two decades, but illiteracy among women in developing countries remains a dilemma.

Some 771 million adults lack basic literacy skills by 2020, with women accounting for 63 percent of all adult illiterate, the report said.

The gender gap in adult literacy is largest in Central and South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“The slow progress in increasing literacy rates means that in absolute terms, the number of illiterate people has remained virtually unchanged,” UNESCO said.

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