In early 2008, the new U.S. administration indicated willingness to lead a renewed effort to mobilize and channel development assistance to support education in developing countries. As a candidate, President Obama publicly stated his desire for the United States to make a significant commitment to education and promised to capitalize a $2 billion global education fund. The commitment to global education was restated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and by Congresswoman Nita Lowey in her capacity as Chair of the Foreign Operations Appropriations Committee.
The action since then? Disappointing. The high-level U.S. political commitment has eroded, partly because of a lack of clear vision in the education community on how best to use potential support. This paper argues that we cannot continue with business as usual in the face of the vast financing needs in the sector. The current funding arrangements have demonstrated limitations, and many believe that a new aid architecture is needed to ensure that any new funding would be used for the right programs in the right countries and yield the right results. In this essay, visiting fellow Desmond Bermingham describes the framework for a better “global education compact” between donor and recipient nations and four possible arrangements to mobilize and allocate development assistance for education. He highlights the advantages and disadvantages of these options—all with the motivation of informing decisions that must be taken by the United States and other G-20 countries if donor commitments are to be met.