The effectiveness of aid in achieving universal primary education will depend on how much is given to basic education and whether it goes to the most needy countries.
The Blair government has been more generous than its predecessor - committing pound;203 million more to basic education since the Dakar conference - but on 1998 figures it still has a long way to go to catch up with Germany or France. While the global aid total fell from $60.5 billion in 1992 to $48.3 bn in 1997 and rose to $50.8 bn in 1998, the share that the least developed (poorest) countries received dropped from 37 per cent to 32 per cent between 1988 and 19978. Sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the worst primary enrolment rates, also received less (down from 32.1 per cent to 29.5 per cent).
The proportion of bilateral (government to government) education aid devoted to basic education rose from 2 per cent in 1993 to 14 per cent in 1997. But the $700m total aid to basic education is less than a tenth of the $8bn that may be needed to fund universal primary education.
* Figures refer to aid from members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, which account for 95 per cent of aid.