Debt and austerity policies affect the financing of education. Countries that spend over 12% of national budgets on debt servicing have cut public spending in recent years – and the number of countries in this situation is rising rapidly, especially since Covid. Present proposals for debt suspension (the G20 DSSI) do not go far enough – efforts need to:
Reach more countries
Cover all creditors
Support longer term suspension or cancellation
Indebted countries often have to turn to the IMF whose policy advice tends to focus on fiscal consolidation – widely known as austerity. One of the flagship austerity policies is to hold down public spending especially through cutting or freezing public sector wage bills. In most countries, teachers are the largest single group on the wage bill so these constraints actively undermine the capacity of countries to pay teachers more or recruit more teachers – even where there are desperate shortages.
Debt and austerity's negative impact on education financing affects the most marginalised and vulnerable learners first. What can GPE and education advocates do to engage in more strategic discussions at national and international levels around debt and austerity?