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By Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education. This blog is part of a series of last minute reflections before a new education goal is set in stone.    For several years now, we in the development community have been talking about and working on the “post-2015” agenda – that moment when the new Sustainable Development Goals would pick up where the landmark Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off. Now, at long last, that moment is upon us, and the question is: “Are we ready?”

Credit: UNICEF

Education is at the heart of the global development agenda and, as we had hoped, the fourth goal on education is much more ambitious than its predecessor. The global and national infrastructure supporting education in developing countries is much more sophisticated and effective today than it was even 15 years ago when the MDGs and Education For All first emerged. Stronger systems and best practices are now in place in many countries. Collaboration and critical coordination among all the internal and external partners is strong. An increasing number of developing countries have committed to major education reforms and initiatives. Many are implementing new approaches and are making exciting progress. But much more needs to be done to ensure the poorest countries can achieve a step change in education progress as is contemplated in the new goal.   Helping to build strong education systems
Picture/Karel Prinsloo/ ARETE

Credit: Karel Prinsloo/ ARETE

The Global Partnership for Education supports countries in the development of national education sector plans and is committed to long-term strengthening of national education systems by investing in multi-year capacity development. It promotes government leadership and accountability in education planning, sustained finance, and the delivery of education services. Established in 2002, it now has a substantial track record of supporting developing countries to amplify the impact of all the resources external and internal partners provide to developing countries. Over the years ahead, the Global Partnership will actively support the new ambitious post-2015 education agenda and will play a key role in the implementation of that agenda, if provided the resources needed. This was noted in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda where the Global Partnership was cited as a central mechanism to be strengthened and scaled up to realize the new ambitious education SDG. In May at the World Education Forum in Korea, hosted by UNESCO, the Global Partnership was invited to be a key coordinating partner for the education SDG.   A country-led development model is key The Global Partnership is a country-led development model, a partnership globally and within developing countries. It aims to be increasingly able to leverage technical capability, advocacy, resource mobilization and mutual accountability for education impact. To strengthen its operational platform, the Global Partnership:
  • Launched a new funding model that provides 70% of funding based on national education sector plans and 30% based on results in the areas of learning quality, education system efficiency and equity for all children as agreed by the government and other development partners.
  • Supports developing country partners’ efforts to improve the collection and analysis of education data that help them plan and evaluate the impacts of their interventions. With more and improved data, the education sector will be better positioned to make the case to donors that their investments are making a difference.
  • Focuses on solving the problem of educating children in fragile and conflict-affected countries, as well as children with disabilities or who are part of a disadvantaged community. This is what SDG4  intends: offering opportunities to “all.”
  More funding urgently needed But to achieve the ambitious goals ahead, the Global Partnership and the education sector will need significantly more funding. UNESCO/GMR estimates that there is an annual financing gap of US$39 billion to ensure that every child received a pre-primary, primary and secondary education by 2030. This is above and beyond of what developing countries expect to spend and current financing from donor countries and other entities. It is a daunting number, but if you break it down, it comes down to this: educating all the children in the world through secondary school will cost US$1.18 per child per day for the next 15 years. The largest share of this cost – 88 percent or US$1.04 per day – will be borne by developing countries themselves. Therefore the actual financing gap is a mere 14 cents per child a day. Is the world ready to fill this gap? The current trajectory is not encouraging. Between 2010 and 2013, overseas development aid for education dropped by almost 8 % as overall development aid rose by 8.5%.Some donor governments that had once given large sums of money to help poor countries educate their children have, in recent years, suddenly gutted and even zeroed out their contributions. We have to turn this trend around. However, there is one major promising development – the new Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunities – convened by Norway and headed by Gordon Brown — to invigorate global education financing and identify more effective and better coordinated ways to deploy resources.  This important new Commission deserves the support of every partner concerned about global education. Are we collectively ready for the vast and complex challenge of getting all the world’s children in school and delivering to them a quality education? We must be if we are to achieve progress not just for the sake of education, but to secure achievement across all of the new sustainable development goals. Alice Albright is Chief Executive Officer of the Global Partnership for Education, which supports 60 developing countries to ensure that every child receives a quality basic education, prioritizing the poorest and most vulnerable and those living in fragile and conflict-affected countries.
This work has been reprinted from the World Education Blog and is therefore made available under the same license. Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Are We Ready for the new Sustainable Development Goals?


by Aaron Benavot and Manos Antoninis

Education 2030 Framework for Action

The Education 2030 Framework for Action was adopted on 4 November 2015 in a high level meeting alongside the 38th UNESCO General Conference. What is this document and what does it mean for our work over the next fifteen years?   What is the Education 2030 Framework for Action? This framework — painstakingly drafted over many months with input from governments, international agencies, civil society and experts — provides guidance for implementing the education commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a national, regional and global level. In particular:
  • it aims at mobilizing all countries and partners around Sustainable Education Goal 4 and its targets;
  • it proposes ways of implementing, coordinating, financing and monitoring the new commitments; and
  • it proposes indicative strategies which countries may wish to draw upon in developing their plans, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
The Education 2030 Framework for Action – Towards Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All succeeds the Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments, which guided international efforts between 2000 and 2015. While the text may not always manage to inspire, it deftly accommodates the interests of a multiplicity of constituencies involved in repeated layers of consultation. Indeed, it is an extremely valuable snapshot of international consensus on issues of education and development.

2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report Cover

In the 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report, we reflected on the impending new Framework for Action and asked:
  • how it could propose more effective mechanisms for global coordination and accountability than those envisaged in Dakar? and
  • how could the Dakar strategies be amended for greater success in the future?
  These questions drew out five key lessons relevant for the signatories of today’s new Framework for Action. They represent the need to:
  1. Sustain political commitment: Formal coordination mechanisms were not always effective in the 2000s. But, in recent years, the UNESCO secretariat and the convening agencies have worked hard to reinvigorate this process. Countries will need to sustain these efforts with stronger representation that truly reflects regional interests in the proposed coordination mechanisms.
  1. Strengthen national policy and practice: The new agenda’s success will ultimately be judged at the country level. National plans will need to (i) better recognize relationships between levels of education and across sectors; (ii) address equity more directly; and (iii) elaborate measures to improve quality more clearly. The Framework for Action is very explicit on all three aspects.
  1. Effectively mobilize more financial resources: Compared with the famous pledge made in Dakar that “no countries seriously committed to Education for All will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources”, the new Framework for Action is less bold in tone. Rather, it defers relevant actions until the conclusions of the International Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities are submitted to the UN Secretary General in September 2016.
  1. Bring the monitoring and reporting of progress to a new level: The Framework for Action takes a bold step of including an annex with a proposed (though not endorsed) set of indicators for the new education targets. This offers a chance to reflect on how progress can and should be defined – something our Report will be looking at in 2016. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on institutional developments needed to address the many monitoring challenges at the national level.
  1. Link monitoring with action: Improving monitoring will not by itself bring about real progress in education. We need to enable countries to learn from each other and trigger action. Some governments may be reluctant to join such efforts since they may note that they are being asked to account for international commitments to which they are not legally bound.
That said, the Education 2030 Framework for Action boldly responds to the call of the UN Secretary-General for thematic reviews to chart global progress at regular intervals. For the GMR, the new document further solidifies our mandate for the next 15 years. Paragraph 101 specifically states: “he EFA Global Monitoring Report will be continued in the form of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report. … The GEM Report will be the mechanism for monitoring and reporting on SDG 4 and on education in the other SDGs, with due regard to the global mechanism to be established to monitor and review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will also report on the implementation of national and international strategies to help hold all relevant partners to account for their commitments as part of the overall SDG follow-up and review.” We are honored by the confidence of the international community in our work. We are determined to continue to earn this confidence in the coming years as an authoritative, high quality and editorially independent report monitoring the new education goal and targets. Furthermore we welcome the emphasis of paragraph 103 on a “research and evaluation culture … to learn lessons from the implementation of strategies and policies and feed them back into actions”. In particular, that:
  • Countries commit to “evaluate the effect of their education policies on achieving the Education 2030 targets”; and
  • Convening agencies commit to “evaluating the effectiveness of their coordination mechanisms and the extent to which their programmes support countries in implementing Education 2030”.
These are solid foundations to help achieve an ambitious and transformative agenda in education.  
This work has been reprinted from the World Education Blog and is therefore made available under the same license. Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Education 2030 Framework for Action: let’s get started