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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Major countries and NGOs have cut back the proportion of aid for basic education in developing nations in recent years and their funding has been "inconsistent, uncoordinated and declining", a UK charity said on Friday.
Nine of the 10 largest donors, including the United States, Britain, France and Germany, have been reducing the proportion of aid going to primary schooling since 2010, and the only big bilateral donor that has increased it is Norway, it said.
Overall aid for basic education is "exactly the same as a decade ago", the charity A World At School said in a report, accusing donors of a "lack of ambition" to achieve the U.N. Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015.
The NGO described support from multilateral groups such as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), and the World Bank, which holds its annual meeting in Washington D.C. this week, as "erratic".
"Aid to basic education has fallen every year since 2010, which means that just when leaders should have been stepping up to achieve the 2015 target, they were pulling back," the charity's co-founder, Sarah Brown, said in a statement.
The eight U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set in 2000, expire later this year. Countries and NGOs are drawing up a new set of development targets they hope to meet by 2030.
Enthusiasm over the 2030 goals should not obscure the failure adequately to strive to meet the 2015 target "on which millions of children's lives depend", the report said.
The education goal is that by 2015 there should be "universal primary education," achieved only when "children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling."
There are currently 58 million children around the world who are not in education, A World At School said. It has previously estimated that $22 billion a year is needed to get all the world's children into primary classes.
These have been a "catastrophic few years for global education", the charity said, marked by attacks on schools in Kenya and Pakistan, high profile abductions in Nigeria and South Sudan, and schools destroyed in Syria and Gaza.
The financial crisis alone does not explain the slump in funding, the report said. "Since 2008, investments in health have risen 58 percent while education investments dropped by 19 percent".
Since 2010, 13 African countries have seen cuts to basic education aid, and continent-wide, aid for primary schools has fallen to 2008 levels, the charity's research showed. In Ethiopia, for instance, more than 3 million children do not go to school, it noted.
Reporting By Joseph D'Urso; Editing by Tim Pearce