Close to two-thirds of poorer nations have been slicing their education budgets amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent report by the World Bank – UNESCO Education Finance Watch (EFW).In instances when countries should have adjusted budgets proportionately to support distance learning and other challenges brought about by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, many nations chose to cut these previously dwindling budgets down to nubs amid the health crisis, according to the watchdog, warning that the downsizing of these educational systems becomes ever more dangerous as the trajectory continues. For comparison, before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, wealthier countries had been spending an average of $8,500 per child compared to $48 in lower income countries - evident disparities in the per-capita education spending gap that are only becoming more exacerbated by the novel coronavirus. Furthermore, around a third of wealthier countries have chosen to cut their budgets to fight the coronavirus pandemic, while two-thirds of poorer countries have chosen to do the same.The EFW notes that the challenge is not only in the ability to mobilize resources, but in the ability to improve the effectiveness of the funding provided. It found that despite increases in public education spending prior to the coronavirus, the funding has only resulted in "relatively small improvements" in educational outcomes. While it has improved access, benchmarks such as the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read short, age-appropriate texts in lower income countries stands at around 53% of the population, while in wealthier countries it averages only 9%. The watchdog estimates that school closures as a direct result of the pandemic will increase this category to 63% in poorer countries.“This is a critical moment where countries need to recover the learning losses the pandemic is generating, invest in remedial education, and use this window of opportunity to build more effective, equitable and resilient systems,” said World Bank vice president for human development Mamta Murthi.“The learning poverty crisis that existed before COVID-19 is becoming even more severe, and we are also concerned about how unequal the impact is," Murthi added. "Countries and the international development community must invest more and invest better in education systems and strengthen the link between spending and learning and other human capital outcomes.”The EFW notes that while global spending on education has been on an upward trend over the last decade, there are fears that the coronavirus pandemic will disrupt this as it has temporarily done already. The deterioration of economies and government finances across the globe will most likely lead to the decrease in funding provided to lower income countries to boost their educational programs - funding that mainly stems from donors of wealthier countries, who are also experiencing a hit to their wallets.Disbursement of educational aid from foreign countries has increased by 21% over the last ten years. From 2010-14, global spending on educational aid took a hit in the aftermath of the recession, but since then it has steadily increased and reached a record-setting total of $15.9 billion in 2019. It is likely that global spending on education in 2020-2021 will mirror the decrease it saw in the years following the recession."External financing is key to support the education opportunities of the world’s poorest,” said UNESCO Assistant Director-General Stefania Giannini. “Yet donor countries are likely – and some have already begun – to shift their budget away from aid to domestic priorities."Health and other emergencies are also competing for funds. We foresee a challenging environment for countries reliant on education aid," Giannini added. "UNESCO estimates that it may fall by $2 billion from its peak in 2020 and not return to 2018 levels for another six years."