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Save the Children’s recently published report, Time to Act, estimated it would cost $21.5 billion over five years to provide all refugees in low and middle-income countries with education, $11.9 of which should come from the international community. However, current humanitarian aid data are not sufficiently fine grained to allow the international community to report on progress – or the lack thereof. Tracking international financing of refugee education is a challenge. The Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report studied two international databases – the Financial Tracking Service (FTS) of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and OECD’s Creditor Reporting System (CRS) to analyse the international aid component of refugee education. The analysis mapped the databases against each other and extracted information to estimate the amount of aid that supported refugee education.
The FTS is a voluntary mechanism used by all humanitarian donors and implementing agencies to track humanitarian response plans and appeals almost in real time. According to FTS, $433 million was spent in humanitarian funding on education in 2016. In analysing tracking of international aid to refugee education this paper finds that between 2014 and 2017 4.2% of humanitarian aid to refugee situations was for education, although this is heavily skewed by the Syria region. Outside of Syria only 1.4% goes to education. Also the proportion of humanitarian aid assigned to education increases during over time. Humanitarian aid in the CRS database showed that $425 million was disbursed through 225 humanitarian aid projects in 2016 on refugee education, an amount potentially consistent with the information from FTS.
But this is an imprecise amount for at least two reasons. Only a subset of that education aid is for refugees; the rest is directed at education in other emergencies, which means the above number over-estimates the amount refugee education receives. And more than 40% is classified as multi-sector or ‘unspecified’, making it difficult to distinguish what is spent on education, and could be under-estimating the humanitarian aid going to education, including for refugees. The study highlighted a need for better tracking of spending on refugee education.