This one small change could transform education for millions

classroom 2019
Children in class at Namu Keeling, Indonesia (Unsplash, 2019)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Manos Antoninis, Director, Global Education Monitoring report, UNESCO & Breon Corcoran, CEO, WorldRemit


On paper, Ally starts his school year in Tanzania in January. However, his aunt Susan, an engineer living in Sweden, has been preparing for this day for months, working hard to send money home to pay his school fees. For many school-age children like Ally living in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the journey to the classroom doesn’t begin when the sun rises. It starts with the efforts of family and friends, from Australia to Austria and the UK to the US, sending home nearly $528 billion to developing countries in 2018 in Tanzania – a figure more than triple official development aid.

With 220 million children out of school in low- and middle-income countries, it is vital that governments and businesses come together to tackle the first and last mile in the remittance journey, to ensure even more children complete their education. This matters because, as we learned in the most recent edition of UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report, out of all spending on education, one in four dollars in middle-income countries and one in three dollars in low-income countries comes from families, not governments. To put it into context, the report found that lowering remittance costs to 3% from the current average of 7% would allow households to spend an additional $1 billion on education per year. Families can also make their funds go further by switching to low-cost digital transfers – WorldRemit estimates that this could unlock $825m for education in developing countries.

Improving the first mile

So how can we do things better? Digital disruption is shaking up the industry, but sending remittances is all too often a slow, costly and opaque experience.

For starters, the financial literacy of migrants needs to be improved. While newly arrived families in host countries often find the education of their children is catered for, the education of adults is frequently overlooked, despite the importance it carries for their household decisions, including how to best navigate new welfare systems and avenues for remittances.

Companies catering for migrants must also offer products that meet their needs. The shift towards digital, for example, saves on time as well as cost. If you work as a taxi driver, nurse or care assistant, you can send from your smartphone instead of having the inconvenience and expense of taking time out of work to find a bureau to send cash.

Technology also empowers customers with more information about their transfers. Regular updates on foreign exchange rates and transparency on fees help the customer to make more informed choices. Equally important is knowing the speed of transfer and confirmation that funds have arrived. Experience shows that remittance senders are often responding to last-minute requests – e.g. a child’s school fees and equipment – that must be paid in a day not a month.

Digitizing the last mile

The GEM Report shows that remittances increased education spending by over 35% in 18 countries in Africa and Asia and by over 50% in Latin America. Complementary research by WorldRemit finds that remittances kept 3.5 million children in school worldwide in 2018.

For the hardest to reach groups, like girls and rural communities, technology is also making a difference in the form of mobile money accounts. Take lawyer Joy Kyakwita, for example: her education was supported by her sister living in Europe, who put her through school and university back home in Uganda. At that time, to receive the funds, Joy had to travel into town to a bureau or to wait for the cash to arrive with someone travelling home. Now working in the UK, she has supported nine children in Uganda. But instead of the cumbersome and risky options she faced, Joy sends mobile money transfers to the children or pays fees directly to their schools’ mobile money accounts. Technology has eliminated the last mile of the remittance journey, which allows these children to focus on their education.

This trend is set to continue. The mobile telecoms industry body GSMA records that mobile money accounts have doubled in 2017, and more than half of Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be connected by 2025. However, for this potential to be fully realized, governments in remittance-receiving countries must be careful about how they tackle the taxation of mobile money services, cognizant of the wider effects on families. As an example, Uganda’s newly introduced excise duty of 0.5% on mobile money transactions translates into two years’ worth of school books, based on an average year of school fees sent via mobile money.

The cost of expensive remittances

In some ways, we are just at the beginning of this transformation. Remittances are projected to have grown globally by 10.3% to a record $689 billion in 2018. But transaction costs for many remain far too high, and the vast majority of remittances are still offline. The money that migrants send home is vital to the education of millions of children. But to enable more children to benefit, businesses and governments must leverage the benefits of technology to make the journey of remittances from senders to recipients simpler and faster.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

It’s time to move: 5 ways we can upgrade our SDG navigation systems

What lies ahead for the Korean Peninsula?

Lies and reality about incomes and wealth in the EU

More electric cars on EU roads by 2030

‘Education transforms lives’ says UN chief on first-ever International Day

The Ultimate Career Choice: General Practice Specialist

VW diesel scandal and climate change: can increased independent car checks lead to cleaner mobility?

These are the 3 key skill sets workers will need to learn by 2030

Forward Agenda: What can we expect from 2019?

Privacy is a human right, we need a GDPR for the world: Microsoft CEO

Eurozone: Despite anemic growth and shaky banks marks record trade surplus

This billion-dollar campaign wants to protect 30% of the planet by 2030

Chart of the day: These countries have the highest share of electric vehicles

Ukraine undecided over a strategic partnership with the EU

When did globalization begin? The answer might surprise you

Trump beats Clinton but Americans will learn the hard way that the US can’t change with an election

MEPs list conditions for new EU-Azerbaijan deal

This is how AI can help you make sense of the world

ECB doesn’t dare touch Eurozone’s big banks

Youth for Climate Change

Ambassador Zhang Ming: “Work Together for a Better Globalization”

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

Health Committee MEPs back plans to boost joint assessment of medicines

Saudi Arabia must halt air strikes in Yemen, says UN panel

Any doubt?

Algeria must stop arbitrary expulsion of West African migrants in desert: UN migration rights expert

How populist and xenophobic movements in the EU tear apart European businesses and startups

A Sting Exclusive live from Brussels: Solheim’s consequential visit leading the world and the UN

First EU collective redress mechanism to protect consumers

Quicker freezing and confiscation of criminal assets in the EU

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

Shifting Tides: Policy Challenges and Opportunities for the G-20

First Western Sahara talks at UN in six years, begin in Geneva

TTIP: why it is worth not to pull the covers over your head?

Here are three ways blockchain can change refugees’ lives

Libya: $202 million needed to bring life-saving aid to half a million people hit by humanitarian crisis

Why and how Germany had it again its own way in Cyprus

UN chief calls for ‘increased commitment’ to resolution on 10th anniversary of Georgia conflict

Ambassador Zhang wishes from Brussels great success and prosperity for the China-EU relations in the Year of the Dog

MEPs back plans to halt spread of drug resistance from animals to humans

This afternoon Britain will be once more isolated from mainland Europe

Conflict and climate change challenge sustainable development effort: UN report

EU Top Jobs summit ended with no agreement: welcome to Europe’s quicksand!

EU to lead one more fight against climate change at G7 summit

‘Repeated attacks’ could close down key hospital in eastern Libya, says WHO

The strong version of the EU banking union gains momentum

7 ways for businesses to capture the youth dividend

A European student just sets the question of the day: What kind of education policies are missing in Europe?

Contact the Sting

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

Global Talent – Professional Internships

Using ‘leprosy’ metaphors in political rhetoric ‘fuels public stigma’ and discrimination: UN rights expert

EU Commission: Germany can make Eurozone grow again just by helping itself

Can indoor farming feed the world?

The US bugged Europe: Is this news?

Why CFOs need to rethink what it means to create value

EU makes key TTIP document public as protests get louder

Key Brazilian border crossing for Venezuela refugees reopens as asylum numbers pass last year’s total

Miguel Arias Cañete European Commission

EU should invest more in climate and not sit back on its laurels and watch

Trump ostracized by his party and world elites but still remains in course; how can he do it?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s