February 02, 2018

Tax Justice needed to achieve educational justice

©Angela WellsJRS

Today, educational leaders from governments around the world are meeting in Dakar, Senegal, to commit the necessary funding for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). But what is the GPE? It is a multilateral fund that brings together countries from the South, donors, the private sector and civil society to mobilize funds to improve the quality and access to education in developing countries.

The goal of this meeting is for donors to commit to contributing $3.1 billion for educational policies in at least 65 developing countries. It is expected that many governments of lower income countries will also comply with the commitment to increase domestic funding for education.

Ensuring greater and better basic education, ending illiteracy, increasing the number of teachers and dignifying their profession are challenges that must be addressed together and require comprehensive responses.

Civil society demands that developing countries commit at least 20% of national budgets to education. However, in countries with low or very low incomes, this means an investment well below that necessary to guarantee the right to education for all people.

How can we increase the available income in a sustainable manner so that the governments of the most impoverished countries invest what is necessary in education? A measure as urgent as it is inescapable is the development of fair internal and global fiscal policies. Action Aid estimates that governments in developing countries lose at least $100 billion each year due to dubious tax practices by multinational companies. This international organization estimates that developing countries “give away” more than $138 billion each year in harmful tax incentives, even though research shows that securing such incentives is near the bottom of the list of criteria companies use to choose where to invest.

Investing more in education is the first step that must be taken to achieve educational justice, but it is not enough. The solution is to invest MORE and BETTER. Investing better means that governments are more thoughtful when setting priorities. We cannot achieve educational justice without equity, which is why governments have an obligation to allocate resources to the groups that are most disadvantaged and need them the most, such as girls, people with special needs or indigenous groups.

On the other hand, guaranteeing access is the first necessary step, but the quality gap in education continues to grow and educational inequality between countries and within the same countries is a scourge that must be addressed urgently. Governments must allocate resources to improve quality and that means teacher training, better pedagogical tools and practices, curricular adaptations, …

Therefore, increased investment and improvement through the prioritization of groups and educational stages is needed to meet equity criteria and investment in improving quality.

The Global Partnership for Education that is taking place this week in Dakar and will set funding commitments for the next three years, can play a key role in supporting governments and donors to get involved in the fight for educational justice that can only be achieved if it first ensures a fair redistribution of wealth through fair fiscal policies.