This strategy guides Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) expenditure in education, one of the priority sectors identified in the overarching development policy framework, Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability, released by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in June 2014.
Effective education systems can contribute directly to poverty reduction, economic growth and stability. The acquisition of knowledge and skills through education improves individuals’ earning potential and ability to invest wisely in their future and those of their families. Educating women and girls is particularly transformative; every additional year of schooling makes a difference to marriage age, fertility rates and health outcomes for women and their children.
Since 2000, impressive gains have been made globally in access to schooling (particularly primary school), but evidence shows that many enrolled children are deriving limited benefits in terms of learning. This lack of learning is now receiving widespread attention, in large part due to the demonstrated positive link between economic growth and learning (not years spent in a classroom). Challenges remain in extending adequate education services to all children, with girls, poor children, children with disabilities, and other groups faced with disadvantage being disproportionately affected. Access to early childhood care and education, as well as secondary schooling lags well behind primary schooling in many countries.
Australia will invest in better education outcomes for all children and youth across the Indo-Pacific region, to contribute to reduced poverty, sustainable economic growth, and enhanced stability.
Taking a systems-based approach to education, Australia’s investments will contribute to human development through increased opportunities to access high-quality education and training. Australia will be guided by international evidence and respond to context. Support for policy dialogue and reform, evidence-based decision making, and effective partnerships (including with the private sector) will be key to efforts to promote reform. Australia will:
- Invest in early childhood care and development, which has been shown to deliver high returns, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised children.
- Invest in quality at all levels of the education system, because it is what students know and can do that matters for poverty reduction and economic growth.
- Prioritise equity, with a particular focus on gender and disability inclusiveness, because fairer education systems are also the most effective.
- Align education and skills with labour market needs, through investing in relevant and high-quality secondary and post-secondary education.