(14 September 2010) Iberoamerican countries should increase their annual education budget by 0.1% of GDP as of 2013 in order to finance the compliance of the 2021 education goals, according to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Organization of Iberoamerican States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI).
A preliminary report issued in 2009 was revised and presented this week in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the XX Iberoamerican Conference of Education Ministers and the Iberoamerican Congress on Education: 2021 Goals.
In these events, government officials, international experts and professors examined the proposal "2021 Goals: The education we want for the Bicentennial generations" resulting from the XVIII Iberoamerican Conference of Ministers of Education held in May 2008 and approved in the Ministerial Conference in Lisbon in April 2009.
The proposal establishes 11 general goals aimed at creating the permanent foundations for sustained and comprehensive economic, social and cultural development, stronger democracy and social citizenship and the solidary cooperation of the countries composing the Iberoamerican Sphere.
The joint study ECLAC/OEI, carried out with country participation, estimates the amount of funds needed for meeting most of the education goals included in the proposal.
It estimates that in the period 2011-2021 the average annual deficit in education programmes will reach almost US$ 1.1 billion a year (in 2005 dollars) in Iberoamerican nations as a whole, considering only the strictly educational goals, and nearly US$ 2.3 billion a year if other education-related goals of poverty reduction programmes (such as conditional transfer programmes) and greater investment in research and development are also included.
According to this report, some countries will not count with sufficient funds to fulfill these goals if they maintain only their current public spending on education, which is an average 5.1% of GDP in Iberoamerica. In these cases, additional sources of financing may be explored, both domestic and external, for general use or geared at specific goals.
External measures could include the establishment of Iberoamerican solidary mechanisms and the mobilization of multilateral cooperation through a Solidary Fund for Educational Cohesion.
This fund would have a binding solidary commitment, while multilateral cooperation would be complementary and would not replace domestic efforts. Cooperation funds should contribute between 20% to 40% of the needs of countries and regions lagging behind in education in order to meet the goals.
"A timely education, in learning, progression and achievements, is the foundation for becoming an active citizen and count with the tools to overcome poverty and join the labour market with clear possibilities of rising mobility," said Martín Hopenhayn, Director of the Social Development Division at ECLAC, during his presentation at the Iberoamerican Conference of Education Ministers.
The preliminary version of the ECLAC/OEI report is available on the ECLAC webpage.
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