Sweden scales up its flexible funding to UNESCO’s education programmes

Sweden has awarded an additional $3.7 million to UNESCO, upscaling the contribution of some $48 million (430 million Swedish Kronor) it gave the Organization in July 2018 as part of the strategic partnership. Sweden is the first country to provide UNESCO with a voluntary un-earmarked contribution to UNESCO's education programmes.

The additional contribution and partnership were discussed by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoualy, and Sweden’s Minister of Education, Anna Elsa Gunilla Ekström during the Minister’s visit to UNESCO on 14 November.

“Sweden support helps us to strengthen our action in critical areas. Sweden’s decision to provide non-earmarked funding is extremely important to ensure flexibility and predictability for UNESCO’s work”, said the Director-General.

During their meeting the Director-General stressed the importance of the strategic partnership that UNESCO enjoys with Sweden, and commended the country’s strong financial and political support for UNESCO, recalling Sweden’s positive, and encouraging evaluation of the Organization’s work.

"Sweden’s un-earmarked funding to the education sector will enable UNESCO to scale up SDG4 implementation and to reach those furthest behind”, declared Minister Ekström during the meeting, in reference to the 4th Goal—on education—of the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030.  

The additional contribution will bolster support for all of UNESCO’s education activities, notably programmes aiming to bring quality inclusive education to populations affected by crisis or displacement.

Through the Programme Cooperation Agreement (2018 – 2021), Sweden has been providing, inter alia, approximately USD 36.5 million of un-earmarked global support to the Education Sector, contributing to sector-wide policy and planning; technical and vocational education and training (TVET); literacy and foundational skills; teachers; comprehensive sexuality education; education for sustainable development; as well as research and foresight. Such flexibility of funding is critically important for promoting programmatic coherence and efficiency, as well as for giving a longer-term perspective, which is vital for the Organization.

In 2018, Sweden was the largest donor to UNESCO and to the Education Sector. Through its generous multi-year financing commitments, the Organization has been able to strengthen its planning and streamline its programmes, resulting in improved delivery.