New Paper Explores What It Will Cost To Provide Free Secondary Education For All Children by 2030

July 06, 2015Duncan McCullough

The international community has made a commitment to every boy and girl across the world. Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for access to early childhood education and the completion of free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education for every child.  However, there are uncertainties around how to mobilize additional financing for upper secondary education, and how to mitigate against negative impacts a focus on fee-free upper secondary education could have on the quality and equity at lower levels of education.

In an effort to address these uncertainties, The Malala Fund - a non-profit organization focused on empowering girls through secondary education - commissioned Results for Development (R4D) to develop a technical paper on financing upper secondary education in the post-2015 education agenda. The study builds on the analysis by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR) to shed further light on the cost of providing fee-free access to both upper and lower secondary school by 2030.

R4D’s technical study identifies the approximate range of the global cost for achieving universal upper secondary school access and delves into lessons learned from country experiences in providing universal fee-free secondary education. Through interviews with expert stakeholders, a literature review, and cost modelling, the study explores the cost of universal upper secondary education, lessons that can be drawn from different countries that embarked on this process, and options for financing fee-free education. The research also investigates strategies to mitigate negative impacts of fee-free upper secondary education on equity and quality at the lower levels.

Most importantly, the paper identifies a funding gap that shows universal, fee-free education through secondary school within our grasp.  $39 billion is not a small amount of money, but it is a manageable amount that can be found if the proper political will is present.  For example, the world spends $39 billion in just 8 days on military expenditures.  Considering the monumental benefits to a world where every child has the opportunity to receive an equitable, quality education for a full 12 years, it is an investment for our children’s future that can and must be made.

To read the background paper in its entirety, click here.

Photo Credit: Malala Fund

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