The allocation listed for education in the Budget Estimates 2023 is far too small. Out of a Total Expenditure of EC$1,445,886,623, only EC$ 29,621,320 have been labelled as education expenditure. This is only 2.05% of the Total Expenditure.
A paper by the Global Education Monitoring Report at UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – has revealed that low and lower-middle income countries are facing a significant financial shortfall in meeting their national Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4 benchmark targets. The paper, ‘Can countries afford their national SDG 4 benchmarks?’ estimates that 21% of the financing required to achieve these targets remains unaccounted for, resulting in a funding gap of US$97 billion.
With only 2.05% of Total Expenditure being spent on education, SVG is clearly one of the countries with a financial shortfall in education funding. The children of SVG deserve much more investment in their education and future. The level of education one receives has a significant impact on the opportunities in life a person may get and how prosperous a life they may live.
According to UNESCO, since 2015, UNESCO Member States agreed on a level of educational funding of 4 to 6% of GDP or 15 to 20% of public expenditure. SVG is falling far short of this threshold at only 2.05% of public expenditure.
Capital expenditure for education in 2002 was $24 million, yet here we are over 20 years later and the capital expenditure for education has barely increased.
Taiwan and the super-rich foreigners in Mustique and Canouan are given tax and customs duty exemptions by the ULP regime. If the ULP regime collected this hundreds of millions of dollars of tax every year, the education budget for the children of SVG could have been increased much more.
Why is the ULP regime not passing an Act to enforce Taiwan to offload its Atlantic Ocean tuna fish catch in SVG? This would create revenue for public expenditure. Taiwan is using SVG’s fish licence and SVG’s national flag on its fleet of fishing vessels in the Atlantic Ocean. Taiwan should pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fish tax every year to SVG.
When past USA President, Barack Obama, came to the Caribbean in April 2015, his advice to the CARICOM leaders to resolve their problems of high levels of debt, crime and unemployment, was to educate their people. Obama told the CARICOM leaders that if they had a highly-educated workforce they will attract a lot of foreign investment.
Obama said ‘One of the most important things Singapore did is that they made a massive investment in their people and, if you have got a highly skilled [and] highly educated workforce – if you set up rules of law and governance that are transparent and non-corrupt, then you can attract actually a lot of service industries…’.
SVG Green Party Leader, Mr Ivan O’Neal, has a BSc (Hons) in Accounting and Finance and Economics from Oxford Brookes University, England, an MSc in Macro Economics, Policy and Planning from Bradford University, England, and an MBA from Leicester University, England, and has always said that SVG should follow Singapore’s example and educate our people and build universities.
Investing so little into education shows how economically ignorant the ULP regime is.
It is important to significantly increase the education budget to provide free, high-quality education for all SVG’s children and build our own SVG university. We must act quickly.