Regardless of a spectacular improvement of access to education since 2000, there are still about 75 million children worldwide who do not attend school.

Often these children are kept at home to help out with household chores. Sometimes schools are too expensive or children have to contribute directly to the family income. Apart from economic barriers there are also cultural constraints.

Access to good education is a universal right. Education is also an essential element in the fight against poverty and inequality. Education gives children and young people a chance to develop and obtain an income later. At school children obtain knowledge and skills that help them improve their quality of life (their health, for instance). Education also contributes to economic growth and the development of a country.

Education is a priority sector of Belgian development cooperation. Internationally, Belgium has committed to contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 2, achieve universal primary education by 2015.

Current needs

The access to primary schooling has improved considerably over the last few years. Indeed, in Africa the percentage of children attending primary education increased from 54% in 1990 to 74% in 2007. But because of this increase the quality of education has suffered. Moreover, because of the successful concentration of resources on primary schools the demand for continued education has increased. BTC is especially active in these fields.

BTC interventions

Together with authorities in the South, BTC intervenes in the education sector through dozens of interventions. One of the main concerns is to provide more access to better education and at the same time to ensure equal access for boys and girls. BTC is mainly active in building schools, in technical and vocational education, in teachers’ training, in schoolbooks (policy), and in financing and planning education. Via budget support and institutional strengthening of the whole education system BTC also supports primary education.

Budget support / sectoral aid

Belgium uses budget support and sector programmes more and more to support education. Doing so, it is the government of the partner country that becomes fully responsible for identifying and executing the activities. It can count on financial and technical support from Belgium though. This implies active participation of Belgian development cooperation to the sector dialogue in the partner country. In 6 countries BTC supplies the necessary expertise to follow-up the budget support and prepare the policy dialogue (Rwanda, Burundi, Niger, Mali, Uganda, Vietnam).