Briefing for Global Campaign for Education (June 2017, published online October 2017)
Publications > Education
Policy brief for ActionAid (August 2017)
According to international human rights law, primary education should be free of charge, and secondary education should be made progressively free. Yet in developing countries education is rarely entirely free: despite international obligations, many states continue to impose fees to access primary education. At the same time, families, many among the poorest in the world, have to pay the ‘indirect’ costs of education, such as for school books, uniforms or school maintenance. This briefing provides new figures on the costs incurred by parents when sending their children to school. These costs must be paid by the state, and no child should ever be denied access to education because of inability to pay the fees. Governments need to invest much more in providing a quality education for all their children – one which is truly free.
Missed Opportunity: How could funds lost to tax incentives in Africa be used to fill the education finance gap?
Policy brief for ActionAid (August 2017)
How much revenue do African governments lose from providing tax incentives, such as giving companies tax holidays and exemptions on paying taxes on import duties and value added tax? And if these precious national budget resources were set aside to fund quality, public education instead, how much greater could education spending be? This brief provides figures for revenue losses from tax incentives for several African countries. It concludes that governments in sub-Saharan Africa may be losing US$38.6 billion a year, or 2.4% of their GDP, to tax incentives. This is equivalent to nearly half (47%) of their current education spending. Having a much clearer pro-poor policy for granting incentives and using some of these resources to fund education could provide a much-needed and significant boost to education budgets across Africa.
Report with Dr Bernadette O’Hare (July 2017)
This research estimates how much revenue six low income countries – of which five are in sub Saharan Africa – are losing unnecessarily from various potential revenue streams that could be used to fund public services. Developing countries can lose revenue in a variety of ways. Here we estimate how much is being lost from the following sources:
Tax avoidance by multinational companies; Providing tax incentives (for example, reductions or exemptions from the payment of corporate taxes) which constitute government ‘tax expenditure’; Not collecting taxes from a proportion of business activity in the informal sector; Corruption in the national budget; and Debt interest payments to international creditors. The research finds that revenue losses are large in all countries, which has significant implications for development. The priorities for low income countries are to end corporate tax avoidance, reduce corruption and raise tax collections. These areas are far more important than aid inflows: The six countries under analysis are losing 6.4% – 12.9% of their GDP; In most cases, this amounts to more than the combined national health and education budgets, meaning that expenditure on these areas could more than double; Revenue losses are larger than aid in two of the six countries and over 60% of the amount of aid in a further three.
Report for ActionAid (April 2017)
Report for ActionAid (February 2017)
This Citizens’ Education Report identifies the extent to which Tanzania’s children, especially girls, are accessing good quality primary education, and recommends improvements, notably in government policies. It is based on extensive collaborative research among communities and school stakeholders in 30 schools in two districts, Kilwa and Singida.
Report for ActionAid (February 2017)
This Citizen’s Education Report, witten with ActionAid Nepal, identifies the extent to which Nepal’s children, especially girls, are accessing good quality primary education, and recommends improvements, notably in government policies. It is based on extensive collaborative research among communities and school stakeholders in 25 project schools in two districts, Kailali and Doti, located in western Nepal. The task of improving primary education in Nepal is urgent since, as the research has found, few children are receiving a good quality education despite some progress in recent years.
Report for ActionAid and International Commission on Financing Global Education (November 2016)
This report, part-written by Curtis Research, outlines how increased taxation in developing countries should fund public education. The task is urgent given that 121 million primary or lower secondary age children are out of school while 250 million children who are in school but not learning. Many tax incentives provided by developing country governments cause far more harm than good. First, and most importantly, they can massively reduce government revenues by removing the requirement for companies to pay fair levels of tax. Second, they can encourage corruption and secrecy when negotiated in highly discretionary ‘special deals’ with individual companies. Third, they mainly attract ‘footloose’ firms which move their investments from one country to another, and therefore do not encourage stable long term investments. Fourth, where they favour foreign investors, they can disadvantage domestic investors and deter them from entering markets or expanding. The ostensible reason for governments providing tax incentives to business is to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), yet the evidence suggests that tax incentives are not needed to attract FDI. There are four types of incentives that are particularly problematic: discretionary incentives, tax holidays, tax incentives in free trade zones and stability agreements. Developing countries are estimated to lose US$139 billion a year just from one form of tax incentive – corporate income tax exemptions. This could easily fill the annual global finance gap for basic education.
Report for Islamic Relief (September 2016)
This report focuses on the plight of female Syrian refugees who are trying to survive and make a living in two countries neighbouring Syria – Lebanon and Iraq. Over 1.5 million Syrians are now in Lebanon and over a quarter of a million are in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. A large proportion are women and girls. Women now find themselves not only as refugees but often as heads of household and bread-winners, away from their traditional sources of support. This report focus on the barriers they face in providing for their families, such as: A lack of good employment opportunities; gender-based violence in communities and in the workplace; and extremely limited access to good education for their children, including girls. At the same time, not only has the international community failed to bring about an end to the war in Syria, but it is also failing to adequately support those who are fleeing it. UN financial appeals for Lebanon and Iraq remain massively under-funded.
Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is increasingly funding and supporting private education in developing countries. Indeed, it has become the world’s leading bilateral donor in promoting not only ‘low cost’ private schools but also in promoting the role of multinational companies as funders of education in developing countries. This report documents how DFID is promoting an increasing role for the private sector in education in three main ways: by promoting an enhanced role for multinationals in funding education; by funding a range of private education providers and ‘low-cost’ private schools in other bilateral projects; and by funding research and dissemination of information on private education and aiming to change government policies