(CMC): A new joint report by the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has found that Caribbean and other countries are cutting their education budgets due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Washington-based financial institution and the Paris-based UNESCO Education Finance Watch (EFW) said that education budgets are not adjusting proportionately to the challenges brought about by COVID-19, especially in poorer countries.
Despite additional funding needs, the new reports says that two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries, such as those in the Caribbean, have, in fact, cut their public education budgets since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In comparison, only one-third of upper-middle and high-income countries have reduced their budgets, the report says.
“These budget cuts have been relatively small thus far, but there is a danger that future cuts will be larger, as the pandemic continues to take its economic toll, and fiscal positions worsen,” the report says. “These differing trends imply a significant widening of the already large spending disparities seen between low- and high-income countries.”
According to the new report, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2018-19, high-income countries were spending annually the equivalent of US$8,501 for every child or youth’s education compared to US$48 in low-income countries.
The report says COVID-19 is only widening this huge per-capita education spending gap between rich and poor countries.