Issue Deep Dive
France / Education
Last updated: May 23, 2023
France ranks highly in terms of its total spending on global education. However, 52% of France’s education ODA, or US$927 million, consisted of in-country student costs and scholarship costs for students from recipient countries studying in France in 2021. Excluding these costs, France was the fourth-largest donor to education, spending US$848 million in 2021.
Despite absolute increases, ODA for education has experienced small decreases as a portion of the budget from 2017-2021, contrasting slightly with government statements positioning education as a key sector priority. There was France’s educational ODA decreased by 6% between 2020 and 2021.
In 2021, 80%, or US$1.4 billion of French ODA for education was provided bilaterally, making it the largest sector of France’s bilateral ODA.
According to the conclusions from the latest French CICID meeting in 2018, within education, France focuses on
- Universal basic education;
- Inclusion of youth in the workforce;
- Women and girls’ empowerment;
- Democratization of higher education, research, and innovation; and
- Support for French culture and promotion of the French language.
Nearly all of the ODA France spent on ‘post-secondary education’ in 2021 (US$979 million) consists of costs associated with students from LICs studying in France. Along with ‘vocational training’, ‘post-secondary education’ is considered important in supporting youth employability and strengthening the economy, a key priority of France’s development policy. France will likely increase funding to these sub-sectors in the future.
‘Basic education’, which includes ‘primary education,’ received 12% of France’s bilateral education ODA. ‘General education,’ which includes activities aimed at strengthening education systems accounted for 11%, while ‘secondary education' accounted for 8%.
French core funding to multilaterals made up 15%, or US$273 million, of ODA to education in 2021, well below the DAC average of 28%.
President Emmanuel Macron has made education a key priority of his government’s international development policy. France considers global education both a pillar of international development and an instrument of France’s cultural diplomacy in the world. The 2021 Development Law denotes education as a key sectoral priority.
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