International development funds must secure universal access to quality education for all

The Department for International Development (DFID) must do more to ensure the money spent by the UK on international aid and development is successfully securing the goal of universal access to quality education for all children, regardless of ability to pay.

The NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has today published a Report examining the Department for International Development’s (DFID’s) international development strategy, particularly in relation to education.

The Report highlights the significant shift since 2010 in DFID’s international development strategy to increasingly promote private sector involvement in the design and delivery of education services, despite the fact that DFID’s own research evidence questions the impact of such interventions in relation to education quality and equity for learners.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Since 2010, the UK Government has made ‘boosting economic development’ its number one priority for international aid and development, in spite of evidence which indicates that this might further disadvantage the world’s poorest children.

“The Conservative Government is clearly encouraging a more commercialised and marketised approach to education development and is deliberately promoting a strategy which its own evidence suggests risks undermining the provision of high quality public education in developing countries.

“The findings from DFID-commissioned research published in recent years indicates that there is weak evidence that market competition enhances the quality of schools in the private or public sectors. Instead, the evidence indicates that the Government’s strategy of encouraging low-fee private schools is a real impediment to children’s educational participation.

“While the Government should be commended for guaranteeing spending for international development, it must put ethical concerns and children’s rights ahead of commercial trade interests and profit margins.

“The promise of securing universal access to quality education for all children has been agreed as a key global priority by the UK Government and other governments in the United Nations.

“The UK Government must demonstrate whether it is serious about its promise to ensure quality education for all children, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Notes to editors
A copy of the report can be found at