Transforming the Financing of Education



New York, 19 September 2022  

Excellencies, Dear friends,

Education is the best investment any country can make in its people and its future.

But spending is low, and falling.

The average rich country spends over $8,000 per student compared to less than $200 in the average poor country.  

Differences within countries are also staggering and create inter-generational inequalities.  

Rich students attend the best schools and colleges and then go on to the best jobs. Poor students in under-funded schools are ill-equipped to compete for qualifications or opportunities.   

We must find a way to close these enormous gaps, together.

This is the purpose of today’s spotlight session.

I see two priority areas.

First, all countries must give greater priority to financing education. 

Even before the pandemic, less than half of all developing countries were meeting global benchmarks for education funding.

I urge all governments to make education a priority across departments, and to set ambitious targets aimed at increasing investment per student by 2025.

Governments should also look at the quality, equity and efficiency of their education spending, to get the most out of their tax revenues.

Second, developing countries cannot do it all on their own.  

Aid to education was just 5 percent of total donor spending before the pandemic and has since been cut. This should be increased to at least 15 percent.

I also urge international financial institutions to double their education portfolios.

I have consistently called for international financial institutions to make resources and fiscal space available to developing countries, including middle-income countries, to make progress on development priorities including education.

Financial institutions should also ensure their advice to governments supports increased education budgets, including teachers’ salaries.

Innovative financing can play a critical role, and I commend Special Envoy Gordon Brown and everyone involved in the establishment of the International Financing Facility for Education.

This innovative mechanism will provide low-cost financing to countries locked out of other concessional funding. It will complement existing funds and initiatives including the Global Partnership on Education and Education Cannot Wait.

I urge donors, philanthropies and development banks to come onboard.


Transforming education is indispensable to transforming our world.

I urge you to start investing more, more equitably and more efficiently in education for all.

Thank you.