Colombia has proposed a national education budget that will for the first time surpass that of the defense and police sector, local media reported.
According to a budget that is still to be approved by the congress, education funding will rise 4% for next year from $14.5 billion to 15.3 billion, according to Colombia’s Ministry of Finance.
The investment in education will reach about 4% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015, according to the national budget proposal announced on July 10th. In 2008, the OECD organization of developed nations was spending on average about 6.1% of its GDP on education, according to its own figures.
The defense budget is actually set to decrease next year from $15 billion to $14.9 billion, reflecting a decided shift in the national government’s focus as the post-conflict era draws near.
“[This] is an example of what should happen in the post-conflict period, all the money that can be used in education reflects a society much more at peace,” said Carlos Fonseca, former director of Colciencias, Colombia’s science institute, as quoted in Colombia’s La Republica newspaper.
Santos working towards ‘most educated country in Latin America’
President Santos’s 2014-2018 plan for education includes the high-reaching goal of turning Colombia into the most educated country in Latin America by 2025, La Republica reported.
Colombia has much to overcome, as the country has shown a decline in performance in the international Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA); Colombia finished at the bottom in both the 2012 regular PISA exam and the 2012 optional financial literacy test.
The proposed increase in the education budget comes on the heels of the announcement of the new bilingual education program, “Colombia Very Well,” with the intention of promoting bilingualism in Colombia.
Santos has made it clear that investments will increase to aid programs for early education and child development such as “Zero to Always,” program that aims to develop early childhood education for at risk populations. . It has impacted over one million children, according to Medellin‘s El Colombiano newspaper; the president hopes to increase the number of children under this program by 400 thousand in 2015 and reach two million by 2018.
100,000 new grants to support higher education and tuition costs are also included in the budget, as well as the investment to supply students and teachers with electronic tablets and computers.
For the budget in the science, technology, and innovation sector, the figure will also increase by $539 million to land at $204.4 million. However, the figure still only represents about .05% of the GDP, La Republica reported.
- Presupuesto 2015 por $167 billones garantiza inversión social (Ministerio de Hacienda)
- La educación desbanca a la defensa como el sector con más presupuesto en 2015 (La Republica)
- Presupuesto General de la Nación será de $167 billones para 2015 (El Colombiano)
- What proportion of GDP is spent on education? (OECD)