Table of Contents

Handbook of International Development and Education

Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.

Chapter 26: International aid and schooling for the poor

Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Paul Marshall

Subjects: development studies, development economics, development studies, economics and finance, development economics, politics and public policy, education policy, social policy and sociology, education policy


Billions of aid agency dollars have been given for government schools in Africa and India with seemingly very little or no effect. Monies targeted for government schools have typically never reached the poorest but become the victim of corruption and waste, ending up in some corrupt official’s bank account rather than being spent on schooling or education (Dixon, 2013). The second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) – that is to achieve Universal Primary Education by 2015 – is not going to be realised. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 states that ‘despite impressive strides forward at the start of the decade, progress in reducing the number of children out of school has slackened considerably’ (UN, 2014, p.16). Just as disturbing, it is reported that one quarter of the children entering primary school in developing countries drop out; of the 58 million out-of-school children half live in conflict affected areas (UN, 2014). Accompanying such doom and gloom comes the desire by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation) to abolish user fees in order to achieve the target of ‘Education for All’ rather than focusing on the need for ‘Quality Education for All’. Without quality what is education? So what can be done? Are children in sub-Saharan Africa and India destined to acquiesce in squalid government school buildings with disenchanted teachers, growing up to lack basic literacy and numeracy skills? Can international aid ever make a difference to schooling in such a context? This chapter explores these questions.

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