and education: the Dutch approach in a nutshell
Briefing notes for Minister Eveline Herfkens for Development Co-operation
27 April 2000
Investing in basic education is one of the best ways of reducing
poverty. With that in mind, the Netherlands would like to spend
more of its development funding on improving primary education.
But the Netherlands can't do it alone. Spending more money on
education is pointless unless the recipient country itself is
serious about achieving education for all by 2015.
today, one hundred and thirteen million children have never
seen a school from the inside. Sixty percent of them are girls.
In developing countries, many children drop out before finishing
primary school. In many countries the quality of education is
distressingly low and equal opportunity for boys and girls is
a long way from becoming a reality. And even today, there are
eight hundred and eighty million adults in the world who cannot
read and write.
figures show how far away we still are from our objective of
Education for All, a goal we set for ourselves at a major conference
in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. To achieve that goal we'll need
more investment in basic education. Because lack of basic education
is one of the most formidable barriers to poverty reduction
and sustainable development.
the year 2015 it shall be a different story. Then every child
shall attend - and finish -primary school! In 2015 girls all
over the world will have the same opportunities as boys to get
a good education and they will be treated as equals. By then,
the quality of education will have improved tremendously. Early
childhood education and adult education will also have made
course, this progress won't be made automatically. First of
all, it will require political will in countries which are still
behind in the provision of basic education. Second, it will
take money - a lot of money. And the countries in question will
have to demonstrate - in their budgets - that they are seriously
committed. They should also begin to involve communities and
wider civil society in planning and decision making, and acknowledge
the responsibility they have for realising the immense contribution
education can make to development. If they are seriously committed,
donors must not hesitate to open their wallets.
The World Education Forum in Dakar will have to produce a powerful
reaffirmation of our educational objectives. Governments, international
organizations and NGOs will need to tell what they are going
to do to attain those objectives. But words alone are not enough.
We need to be clear about how we will implement the measures
we agree on, and how we will monitor that implementation.
a developing country lacks the necessary political will, it
won't do much good for outsiders to pump money into that country's
education system through its government. That's why the Netherlands
does not support the earmarking for basic education in its ODA
budget ex ante. A developing country needs to draw up a good
plan and have a transparent budget before we'll send a check.
country committed to achieving the goal of education for all
will be unable to do so because of lack of resources. This is
the principle guiding the Dutch involvement in the area. Real
political commitment of recipient countries is best demonstrated
by the amount they themselves spend on basic education. If a
country shows it is ready to take action and asks the Netherlands
to lend a hand, we are more than willing to help, including
through budgetary support.
support for basic education includes a lot more than just direct
Dutch financing in that sector. Many developing countries are
struggling under a heavy debt burden. The money governments
must spend on debt servicing cannot be used for social investments
in their own country. That is why The Netherlands spends hundreds
of millions of guilders annually on debt relief . Through the
PRSP process in HIPC countries we know that resources that come
available through this will be spent on poverty reduction including
year, the Netherlands decided to limit the number of developing
countries receiving structural bilateral aid to around 20. These
countries were given the opportunity to decide for themselves
in what sectors they wanted Dutch support. To date, the following
countries have requested support for their education programs:
Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, South
Africa, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Macedonia, the Palestinian Territories
organizations, including Oxfam International and the World Bank,
have suggested that a small group of developing countries join
together, with the help of a select group of donors, to achieve
our educational objectives ahead of schedule, before the year
2015. These countries could serve as guiding lights. The Netherlands
is pleased to support this initiative. On the understanding
that the recipients take the lead.
the conference in Jomtien, the Netherlands has greatly increased
the amount of support it gives to basic education in poor countries.
Direct expenditure has risen from nineteen million guilders
in 1992 to one hundred and fifty-six million in 1999. Lobbyists
in the Hague are hard at work trying to get us to increase this
figure even further. They should be talking to the recipient
countries. The money is available, but we don't give out more
than countries ask for.
again, our basic principle is that governments themselves must
set priorities. That is the only guarantee that additional funding
for debt reduction will truly be invested in basic social services.
If a country's overall budget is sound, it shouldn't matter
to you as an individual donor whether you finance education
or debt relief.