Case for Investment: Replenishment 2020 | Partenariat mondial pour l'éducation
Open navigation



As never before, global citizens and leaders are raising their voices on the imperative of educating all the world’s children. They point with great alarm to the estimated 263 million girls and boys who are not going to school and, just as distressing, many more who are in school but not learning. That’s hundreds of millions of children who along with their families will struggle to rise out of poverty and escape the threat of poor health. And because they are not equipped with the learning needed for the modern workforce, their potential contribution to economic prosperity is lost.

New evidence shows that failing to invest in education today could slow economic growth, worsen social tensions and increase insecurity for a generation or more to come. Without a substantial increase in investments in education, it will be the end of the 21st century before all the children in the world’s low-income countries have the opportunity to complete even primary school.1 The right investment today will pay multiple dividends in the future.

Governments have the primary responsibility for their own national education programs, and some of the poorest countries have shown extraordinary vision and determination to invest more of their national budgets in education. But many countries need to invest more in education—as do donor governments, development banks, international organizations and philanthropists.

“Education is the right of every girl, every human being. I’m proud to be a champion for the Global Partnership for Education. I believe all countries can do more, rich countries must do their part and keep their promises, and developing countries must give more of their own budgets to education. Every student knows what it is like to take an exam. I hope world leaders will pass their own test and resolve to keep their promises every day, in every country, in every classroom.”

Malala Yousafzai Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, co-founder of the Malala Fund and GPE advocate

The replenishment of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is an opportunity to show a new commitment not just to the children of the developing world but to global security and prosperity.

Through its focus on strengthening education systems, GPE has already helped partner countries achieve remarkable results. GPE is entering a new phase of growth. After relaunching as an independent multistakeholder partnership in 2011 and after three years of substantial operational and financing reforms, GPE is ready to lead a much-needed step change in global education financing to transform school outcomes and opportunities for millions of children.

Spectacular improvements in global health have been made over the past 15 years—clear proof that the international community can bring about great transformation if it chooses to. Innovative partnerships such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, helped reset global health financing standards, saving tens of millions of lives.

Now it is education’s time.

11 years old, Côte d’Ivoire

“My parents never went to school. I am the first girl in my family to go to school. My favorite subjects are mathematics, science and geography.
I would like to be a teacher.”

After a decade of civil war, GPE supported Côte d’Ivoire to develop a new education sector plan. A US$41.4 million GPE grant helped to train teachers and build more schools in remote areas; including providing separate toilets for girls and boys. GPE’s support, together with help from the local community, means Juliana has a school closer to her home, making her walk to school safer, and giving her more time to spend on homework and helping her parents in the cocoa plantation. In September 2015, a new law made school compulsory for all girls and boys; in the same year, the government increased the education budget by 25%.

Photo Credit: GPE/ Carine Durand


GPE is the only multilateral partnership and fund dedicated exclusively to education in the world’s poorest countries. The partnership includes developing country partners, donor countries, multilateral agencies, civil society, teachers, philanthropic foundations and the private sector. GPE brings together and amplifies the skills and mobilizes the resources of many to help developing countries to deliver results in education.

GPE works to expand inclusive and equitable quality learning by helping low- and lower middle-income countries build stronger education systems. These are the goals of the 5-year strategic plan, GPE 2020. It includes a comprehensive results framework with 37 indicators, disaggregated by gender. The indicators also track comparative progress in countries affected by fragility and conflict. The results framework enables, for the first time, mutual accountability for all partners working in education.


Since its inception in 2002, GPE has worked with more than 60 developing country partners to improve education sector plans and implementation. With GPE support, governments have improved learning assessment systems and teacher training, and built management information systems. GPE grants have helped provide the basics in education, including building classrooms and providing learning materials in the most vulnerable communities.

Sixty percent of GPE’s spending is in countries affected by fragility or conflict. About two-thirds of the world’s out-of-school children live in countries affected by fragility and conflict, and 63% of child refugees are currently in GPE partner countries. Despite incredible barriers, the primary school completion rate in GPE partner countries affected by fragility or conflict rose from 58% in 2002 to 68% in 2014. This means that even in the most vulnerable communities, more than 5 million more children are finishing primary school.

GPE’s support has achieved the following results in partner countries:

  • 64 million more children in primary school in 2014 compared with 2002
  • 73% completed primary school in 2014 compared with 63% in 2002
  • 71% primary completion rates for girls in 2014 compared with 56% in 2002
  • 50% lower-secondary school completion rates in 2014 compared with 38% in 2002 (for girls: 47% compared to 38%)
“The Global Partnership for Education is getting quality education to marginalized children, coordinating education’s many players, offering aid without wasteful replication, and following local leadership.”

The UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

GPE 2020 STRATEGIC PLAN 2016-2020


To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.


To mobilize global and national efforts to contribute to the achievement of equitable, quality education and learning for all, through inclusive partnership, a focus on effective and efficient education systems and increased financing.


1. Improved and more equitable learning outcomes

2. Increased equity, gender equality and inclusion

3. Effective and efficient education systems



1. Strengthen education sector planning and policy implementation

2. Support mutual accountability through inclusive policy dialogue and monitoring

3. Ensure efficient and effective delivery of GPE support


4. Mobilize more and better financing

5. Build a stronger partnership


The GPE replenishment marks the beginning of a new era in education financing to reverse the trend of declining aid for education. Experts and world leaders say that a significant increase in financing is needed to tackle the global education crisis. The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (Education Commission) recommends that GPE be scaled up to US$2 billion a year in 2020 and US$4 billion a year in 2030. This would introduce to the education sector a fund similar to those that have demonstrated large-scale success in the health sector. GPE endorses that vision.

As a first step, GPE is seeking to replenish its finances for the three years 2018 to 2020, with a goal of reaching US$2 billion a year by 2020. This will enable the partnership to deliver better learning and equity outcomes for 870 million children and youth in 89 countries. GPE’s ambition over the following decade will require this amount to double to US$4 billion a year by 2030.

“Educating the next generation is the best investment we can make in our future prosperity. The Global Partnership for Education’s support to Malawi is vital. GPE’s focus on strengthening the education system helps to improve the effectiveness of my Government’s investments in education. My Government welcomes contributions from our development partners to the GPE fund.”

Arthur Peter Mutharika President of Malawi

Achieving this level of financing will require strong leadership from the world’s major donor countries and new nations to start making contributions. While the majority of the financing is expected to come from traditional and new donor governments, there is a clear role for other contributions, including philanthropic support.

Indeed, private foundations are already stepping up their engagement with GPE and signaling the potential for increased financial investment. In addition to donating to the pooled fund that enables GPE’s core work, there are now new opportunities for targeting thematic and geographic priorities as well as making investments in knowledge and innovation.

By 2020 we expect all donors—public and private, traditional and new—to reconvene and commit further support for reaping the benefits of a continuing investment in global education financing.

“We have the opportunity to create a learning generation. We cannot leave any child behind, and GPE’s successful replenishment is a crucial part of the scale up of education financing that is so urgently needed.”

Gordon Brown United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education and former prime minister of the United Kingdom

With new donor investments from 2018 to 2020 GPE will:

  • Support 89 developing countries to drive improved quality and access to education for 870 million children and youth
  • Provide education plan implementation grants to 67 developing countries, covering 64% of out-of-school children
  • Support 30 developing countries to develop new plans for education, covering 40% of out-of-school children
  • Develop education sector investment cases to attract additional financing and align it behind education plans, initially in 10 countries and scaling up to all 89 countries
  • Drive increased domestic resource mobilization, building on the success to date
  • Drive quality improvements through learning assessment support and
  • Drive data improvements through strengthened education management systems

GPE’s support to developing country partners would result in the following gains:

  • 19 million additional children completing primary school, including 9.4 million girls and over 10.8 million children in countries affected by fragility or conflict
  • 6.6 million additional children completing lower secondary school, including 3.9 million girls and 3.9 million children in countries affected by fragility and conflict
  • 1.7 million teachers trained2
  • 23,800 classrooms built2
  • 204 million textbooks distributed2

Achieving these outcomes will require all partners to increase their financing, with

  • Donor governments providing US$3.1 billion over 2018–2020
  • Developing country governments allocating 20% of government expenditure to education
  • Philanthropic foundations and private sector donors to step up their targeted contributions

These investments would see GPE operating at the recommended scale of US$2 billion a year by 2020 and start the scale-up of global education financing. It would bring new hope that the next generation of girls and boys will be equipped with the skills necessary to contribute to economic and social prosperity.



It is the responsibility of national governments to finance their public education programs and, globally, the vast majority of funds are provided from domestic sources. It is estimated that 97% of the additional global education financing needed by 2030 will be sourced from increased tax revenue, largely from economic growth and efforts to ensure that governments allocate an appropriate share of total spending to education.3 But the poorest countries and those facing humanitarian crises will continue to need external support so they do not fall further behind.

GPE’s focus on strengthening and financing education sector plans, provides a base and complements other new global financing mechanisms. The Education Cannot Wait Fund, which GPE is a key partner in developing, aims to reverse the long-standing neglect of education in humanitarian emergencies and ensure that crisis-affected children and youth receive a safe, free and quality education. The Education Commission is developing a new International Financing Facility for Education, which seeks to scale up financing from multilateral development banks.

14 years old, Ghana

Abdulrahman Ruhainatu lives in West Mamprusi, one of the poorest districts in the north of Ghana. She is top of her class in science and wants to be a nurse.

“In the last two years, there were so many people dying in this village from cholera and other diseases. If you want to be a nurse you have to study science.”

Ruhainatu wants to go to university and says,

“when I finish there I will come back to this community and help”

Ghana has received US$95 million in GPE support over the last decade; this helped improve policy and planning, and strengthen school supervision and teacher training. The most recent grant targeted 75 of the most deprived districts helping to institutionalize in-service training and provide small grants to schools to upgrade their facilities and learning materials. Ruhainatu and a million other girls and boys in Ghana have a better opportunity to find productive employment.

Photo Credit: GPE/ Stephan Bachenheimer


is a foundation for economic prosperity

  • If all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty—the equivalent of a 12% drop in global poverty.4
  • If every child in low-income countries completed secondary school by 2030, income per capita would increase by 75% by 2050 and poverty elimination would be brought forward by 10 years.5
  • An individual’s earnings increase by about 10% for each additional year of schooling: rates of return are highest in poorer regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, reflecting the scarcity of skilled workers.6
  • The return for each dollar invested in education is more than US$5 in additional gross earnings in low-income countries and US$2.50 in lower middle-income countries.7

improves stability, peace and security

  • Higher levels of schooling within a country can significantly cut the risk of conflict, but equity matters—unequal access to education can double the possibility of conflict.8
  • Increasing secondary school enrollment from 30% to 81% is estimated to reduce the probability of civil war by almost two-thirds if education is distributed equally across the population.9
  • Every year of schooling decreases the chance of youth engaging in violent conflict by 20%.10
  • Youth without an education can be nine times more likely to be recruited by rebel groups.11
  • A lack of opportunity for education for displaced and refugee children can perpetuate cycles of migration; this was one of the motivating factors for Syrian families seeking refuge in Europe in 2015.12

improves health outcomes

  • Educated youth and adults are more likely to be healthy, to make healthier choices for their families and to seek health care when needed.
  • An educated mother is much more likely to have her children vaccinated and to ensure her family sleeps under mosquito nets.
  • Out-of-school girls are three times more likely to be infected with HIV than girls who remain at school.13
  • A recent study showed that every additional year of secondary school significantly reduced the chances of individuals later contracting HIV.14

COUNTRIES ELIGIBLE FOR GPE FUNDINGare home to approximately 870 million children and youth and 78% of the world’s out of school children

Leverage Fund

Advocacy & Social Accountability

Knowledge and Innovation Exchange

Education Sector Plan Development Grants

Education Sector Program Implementation Grants

Low-Income Countries (30)

  • Afghanistan
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Comoros
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • The Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Haiti
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mozambique
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Uganda
  • Zimbabwe

Small Island and Landlocked Developing States (18)

  • Bhutan
  • Cabo Verde
  • Dominica
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Kiribati
  • Maldives
  • Marshall Islands
  • Samoa
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Solomon Islands
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu

Vulnerable Lower Middle-Income Countries (19)

  • Bangladesh
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Djibouti
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Laos
  • Lesotho
  • Mauritania
  • Myanmar
  • Nicaragua
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen
  • Zambia

Other Lower Middle-Income Countries (22)

  • Armenia
  • Bolivia
  • Congo Republic
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Kyrgyz Republic
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Philippines
  • Sri Lanka
  • Swaziland
  • Tajikistan
  • Tunisia
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • West Bank and Gaza


GPE adopted a new financing and funding framework in March 2017. It includes a leverage fund as part of a new scalable approach to raising significantly greater and more diverse finance. It invests in important global public goods such as tools for innovation and sharing knowledge, which were previously not supported in the education sector. It also promotes political commitment to education through a new dedicated advocacy and social accountability fund.

The framework opens opportunities for new partnerships bringing previously untapped resources to education from both public and private sources. It builds on GPE’s strength in pooling grant financing for countries most in need by extending country eligibility and providing a new fund to incentivize governments to leverage additional development finance to support their sector plans. A refined education sector investment case approach at the country level will also crowd in and better align new resources behind the priorities set out in national education plans.

The new financing and funding framework better targets GPE funds to countries and communities where the needs are the greatest. Eighty-nine low- and lower middle-income countries are now eligible for grants to help analyze and strengthen their education sector plans. Sixty-seven countries can also apply for large-scale grants to help implement their education plans. Allocations are determined by needs, based on primary and secondary school completion rates and economic status (gross domestic product per capita), with an additional weighting for countries affected by fragility and conflict.15 All 89 countries can benefit from the new leverage fund.

“We will scale up investments and international cooperation to allow all children to complete free, equitable, inclusive and quality early childhood, primary and secondary education, including through scaling-up and strengthening initiatives, such as the Global Partnership for Education.”

Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, July 2015


In addition to the GPE Fund’s core grants to support education sector analysis, plan development and implementation, the financing and funding framework includes three new features:

Leverage Fund

A dedicated pool of funding to incentivize low- and lower middle-income countries to leverage additional financing from other sources such as multilateral development banks, bilateral donors and private sector investors. GPE will offer extra grant funds where governments show additionality and co-financing from external sources of at least US$3 for every US$1 of GPE grant funds. In this way, the leverage fund crowds in additional financing to support high quality education sector plans.

GPE is working closely with the World Bank, the Islamic Development Bank and the African Development Bank, and other regional development banks are expected to join. The Leverage Fund also provides a mechanism for channeling finance from the Education Commission’s proposed International Finance Facility for Education to support government sector plans.

Knowledge and Innovation Exchange

Progress in education hinges on the capacity of developing country governments to develop better policy solutions, improve their use of data and analysis, and to draw on other countries’ experience. By dedicating funds to knowledge and innovation exchange, GPE will harvest and share experience from across the partnership to scale up and fund innovative approaches, especially in equity and learning.

Early investments have concentrated on strengthening learning assessment systems, integrating more effective early childhood care and education into education sector plans and policies, and ensuring gender-responsive sector planning. Funding allocations are driven by needs identified by developing country partners and primarily support global and cross-national activities.

Advocacy and Social Accountability

Securing long-term and sustainable learning outcomes for children requires building the commitment of political leaders to prioritizing and investing more resources in education. A more actively engaged civil society, including think tanks, research organizations and nongovernmental organizations, is vital to build the political will needed to adopt good policies, sound practices and inclusive approaches.

Two complementary programs are supported through this fund—one that focuses on country-level social accountability and one that advances global and transnational advocacy on issues such as aid effectiveness, finance and cross-sector development synergies.


Vestine Nyirazuba, a preschool teacher at the Jean de la Mennais School in rural Rwanda, spends time with her students as a group and individually.

“Early childhood education is important because it helps children to develop their mind and their talents. They learn how to create and manipulate different things. It prepares them for primary school,” she said.

GPE encourages countries to focus on early childhood care and education to ensure that children under the age of 5 develop according to their age, and to increase pre-primary enrollment.

© GPE/Alexandra Humme


For children to become engaged and productive citizens, they need a quality education and a job. The private sector, as the engine of economic growth, needs a skilled workforce and that requires strong and responsive education systems. In many countries, there is a growing mismatch between skills acquired through formal education, the skills to be active citizens and the skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce. Getting that pathway right, and ensuring its foundation on basic secondary school skills, is a shared interest of the private sector, governments and citizens, particularly in fast-growing developing countries.

Private foundations have demonstrated a crucial role in international development with investments that have spurred innovation in areas where government donors fear the risk of failure. Foundations are increasingly drawn to partnering with GPE as it builds a platform to support global public goods in education. In 2016, seven foundations contributed to GPE, investing in building knowledge of what works in early childhood care and education, learning assessments and advancing gender equality. And more foundations are expressing interest in GPE’s knowledge and innovation exchange mechanism.

The business community and foundations are also increasing their engagement on GPE’s Board of Directors, where they have been active since a Board seat was established for them in 2011, bringing an important voice and skills to GPE.

“The African private sector has a responsibility to support the transformation of the education system for current and future generations. Ecobank and its foundation support the Global Partnership for Education’s investments to transform education as an enabler of prosperity and economic inclusion.”

Ade Ayeyemi Group CEO, Ecobank Transnational

Strengthening the system makes the difference for all school children

GPE supports strengthening the fundamental elements that ensure the strong and resilient functioning of a country’s education systems. Having focused on getting more children in school for the past two decades, Ghana has dramatically increased school enrollment and the quality of education through its patient and persistent investment strengthening of the education system.

Ghana received three GPE grants totaling US$95.4 million over the past decade. That support played a vital role in the creation and implementation of the country’s 2010–2020 education plan. Ghana has improved the planning, monitoring and delivery of basic education services in 75 deprived districts. It has used its GPE support to train over 58,000 teachers and to buy essential teaching and learning material for its most disadvantaged schools.

Ghana has also improved its school supervision and accountability systems, resulting in better student and teacher attendance, higher enrollment rates and higher transition rates from primary to lower-secondary school. The impact of GPE’s support to Ghana goes beyond funding, with GPE playing an essential role in the country’s long-term sector planning, education sector analysis, and policy development and coordination across all partners.

Photo Credit: GPE/ Stephan Bachenheimer

Civil war heightens need to keep children learning

Since 2015, Yemen has been devastated by a civil war that has displaced 2.2 million people and led to the deaths of close to 4,000 civilians, including over 1,300 children. UNICEF estimates about 70% of Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and more than 460,00016 children face severe malnutrition.

Before the conflict began, Yemen had made strides in expanding access to basic education and improving gender equality. Since the conflict, however, gender disparities have widened, enrollment and retention rates have fallen, 3,600 schools closed and half of all school-age children (3.4 million) have been out of school.

In response, GPE supported preparatory efforts in Yemen to develop new science and math curricula, buy 35,000 school kits for distribution in areas where drop-out rates for girls are highest, train nearly 600 education specialists and social workers, create a recruitment strategy for female teachers to encourage girls to go to school, and provide basic school furniture and supplies for 37,380 children.

Photo Credit: USAID/ Clinton Doggett


Today, 263 million children and young people are out of school and approximately 130 million more children are attending primary school but not learning. Children in low-income countries are the most at risk, with only two out of three completing primary school.

The world is facing an education crisis. Without immediate action, more than half of the upcoming youth generation—825 million of the estimated 1.6 billion young people in 2030—will not be on track to acquire basic secondary education skills. They will be shut out of economic opportunities through a lack of education. Again, children in low-income countries will suffer the most; only about one in 10 of them will likely acquire secondary education skills. In other words, 90% of young people in some of the most vulnerable communities in the world will face very limited prospects for their future livelihoods.

An investment in education pays extraordinary dividends, but it is necessarily a patient investment. While a new mosquito net or vaccination shot provides immediate protection, an education lasts from childhood to youth. One cannot calculate its unit cost or count the returns as quickly or in the same way. Yet, the right investment in education has a high return, and the benefits flow well beyond the individual. Abundant empirical evidence shows that improved education outcomes, particularly for girls and women, reduce poverty and boost economic prosperity, improve peace and security, strengthen public health and food security, and lead to better stewardship of the environment.

“I feel strongly that all children everywhere should be afforded the opportunity of a quality education. Therefore I’m proud of the Clara Lionel Foundation’s partnership with education advocacy leaders like the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen. Working together, I know we can amplify our efforts and ensure that millions of children gain access to education globally.”

Rihanna GPE Global Ambassador

Improving domestic financing

Since joining GPE in 2012, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has substantially increased its financing for education, with the share of the national budget allocated to education increasing from 9% in 2010 to almost 16.8% in 2013 and 17.8% in 2014.17

GPE supported the DRC to prepare its first transitional education sector plan, Plan Intérimaire de l’Education (PIE), covering 2012–2014. The Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education used the plan to negotiate an increased allocation for education with the Ministry of Budget and the Ministry of Finance. In 2015, with an education sector plan development grant from GPE, and support from the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, the DRC developed its first sector-wide education plan for 2016–2025 that engaged all three ministries in charge of education.

Under the plan’s financial projections, the Ministry of Budget and Ministry of Finance committed to continue increasing education’s budget allocation so that it reaches 20% by 2018 giving new hope to the country’s 5.3 million out-of-school children.

In addition, the government has committed to ensuring that at least 10% of domestic resources are devoted to education for disadvantaged and marginalized groups such as girls, children with disabilities, children of indigenous people and children living in remote areas.

Photo Credit: GPE/Federico Scoppa

Investing in early childhood to improve school outcomes

Delivering quality early childhood care and education is one of the most important and cost-effective investments a country can make to achieve better learning outcomes from school.

Cambodia has made remarkable progress in reducing the number of out-of-school children with a net enrollment rate at 98% in the 2015/16 school year. And it aims to improve on returns from its investment in schools by building up preschool programs. Cambodia has allocated over 60% of its US$38.5 million GPE grant to expand access to early childhood care and development.

The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is building 100 formal preschool buildings, introducing 1,000 community-based early childhood education programs and 500 home-based parental education programs.

The goal is to have over half of Cambodian children aged 3–5 years enrolled in preschool by 2017.

Photo Credit: GPE/ Livia Barton

Investing in Girls’ Education

GPE works to help partner countries tackle gender equality gaps in their education programs because all girls and all boys should benefit from school. From 2002 to 2014, the number of out-of-school girls in GPE partner countries fell by 9.3 million. But more needs to be done because girls are still less likely to start or stay in school than boys.

Another reason to invest in educating girls and women is that the returns are even more widespread than for boys. Educated girls tend to marry later and choose to have fewer children. Maternal mortality and child mortality are dramatically reduced when girls stay in school and learn.

We know that a child born to a mother who can read has a 50% greater chance of living past the age of 5 years, and that half the decrease in child mortality since 19709 and almost one-third of the reduction in adult mortality3 can be attributed to gains in girls’ education. Educating girls saves lives and delivers better economic opportunities—for girls, their families and the economy.

“To end the AIDS epidemic we need women and girls to be empowered through education. Did you know that in Botswana, every additional year of secondary school reduces the risk of HIV infection by 11.6% among girls? GPE is showing that education is a smart investment.”

Michel Sidibe Executive Director of UNAIDS


In 2016, the Education Commission made a powerful case for greater investment in education. Eminent people, including Nobel laureates, former heads of government and luminaries in economics, education, business, development, health and security, came together to review the state of global education and chart a pathway. Their report makes a compelling case for increasing investment in education. It outlines a financing compact rooted in national governments committing to education system reforms and increased national education spending bolstered by more and better international support.

Analyzing the flows of official development assistance for education, the Education Commission found that aid needed not only to increase but also to be better targeted, notably by strengthening education systems. The Education Commission recommended three shifts. A greater proportion of funding needed to be spent first in the poorest countries; second, in the earlier years of education; and third, through multilateral channels.

Low-income countries receive less than one quarter of education aid. The Education Commission proposes that these countries receive two-thirds of external funds by 2030. And it makes the case that these funds be directed to the earlier years of education to ensure that every child has access to quality education by offering it free of charge from primary to secondary school. The Education Commission reported that “to increase efficiency and effectiveness, a much higher share of official development assistance should go through multilateral institutions, including … The Global Partnership for Education.” It added that “rather than funding a large number of small projects as is common in international assistance, multilateral support is key to financing system strengthening, identified by the Commission as a critical priority.”

Shakuntala Badi is 13 years old and studies in Class 5B at Adarsha Saula Yubak Higher Secondary School, Bhainsipati, Nepal. She is the only blind student in her class.

Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of discrimination and poverty that children with disabilities often face. GPE promotes disability inclusion to be mainstreamed in all policies and plans.

© GPE/NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati


Investing in education through GPE means new resources are delivered to the countries that need support the most. It also addresses the heart of the education crisis—and doing it at scale—by strengthening education systems to achieve equitable and quality learning outcomes.

Eighty-nine low- and lower middle-income countries are eligible for GPE support. Between them they are home to 78% of the world’s children who are missing out on school. GPE prioritizes support to the poorest countries, particularly those affected by fragility and conflict, and those with the lowest school completion rates.

Financial support is demand driven and geared to achieving results in learning, efficiency and equity. Initial grants support education sector analysis and planning, enabling countries to develop evidence-based, costed approaches to strengthening their education systems. These robust national education sector plans drive effective policies and interventions. And they are the basis for a country’s own “case for investment,” around which additional financing can be raised and more effectively coordinated, be it from government budgets or external aid contributions. GPE strengthens accountability by closely monitoring its own grants and bringing all stakeholders together (and these include civil society and teachers’ organizations) to support the development of government education policies, national planning and monitoring. Beyond the value of its partnership approach, GPE is a global fund for education that mobilizes financing—domestic and international—and provides large-scale grants to support the implementation of education sector plans.


At the core of a good education is a good teacher. But even the best teacher can struggle when there simply too many children in class. One way we measure the impact of stronger education systems is the ratio of students to trained teachers. Results data from 2016 show the need to reduce class sizes remains high.

Here, GPE is making a difference: in 2016, 29% of GPE developing partner countries had a ratio of fewer than 40 students per teacher, up from 25% in just one year.

“Support from GPE enabled Nepal to intensify our efforts in developing a need based equity approach that allows us to reduce disparities through targeted interventions. GPE also contributed to establishing strong evidence and analysis for the Education Sector Plan for Nepal after the devastating earthquake.”

Dhaniram Paudel Minister of Education, Nepal

GPE Grants

Implementation grants are structured to drive change and focus on results. They are contingent on both an independently assessed, high quality education sector plan, which specifically covers data needs and information management systems, and the government increasing (or maintaining already high) domestic expenditure on education. GPE applies the internationally accepted benchmark of 20% of government expenditure on education, and encourages at least 45% of this is spent on primary education.

Grant funding is results-based as an incentive to drive education plan priorities. The release of 30% of the value of each multimillion dollar grant is dependent on countries achieving pre-agreed results in three areas: equity, efficiency and learning outcomes.


Pre-requisite for support:

  • quality sector plan
  • domestic finance commitment
  • data system

Performance tranche linked to results in:

  • equity
  • efficiency
  • learning outcomes
“In times of displacement, education is crucial. It offers children hope when they need it most, and builds skills that are a lifeline to the future. GPE is providing much needed support to countries to include refugee children in local schools and to provide opportunities for all children to learn. It can be done.
Their future depends on it.”

Filippo Grandi United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Improving data to secure better learning outcomes

Kenya is poised to make substantial progress in education over the coming years because of its domestic financing commitment to education consistently above 20% of general government expenditure, a strong focus on improving learning outcomes and a vibrant civil society.

This improvement has been supported by a US$88.4 million GPE grant to improve numeracy skills in children in grades 1 and 2. In collaboration with a literacy program supported by USAID and DFID, GPE’s country program has distributed over 6 million textbooks and teacher guides, and will have trained 60,000 teachers in new teaching methodologies by the end of the program.

The ministry is considering how best to sustain and expand the gains made by GPE’s program—and this is where data systems are so critical. To this end, GPE is supporting an improved education information management system so that policy and program decisions can be built on reliable evidence, giving tens of millions school children a better chance at a quality education.

Photo Credit: GPE/Mediabase

Helping educate a growing number of refugee children - and its own

Chad is surrounded by conflicts in neighboring countries and still feeling the reverberations of famine and financial crisis that recently swept through the Sahel region.

As a result, one of the world’s poorest countries hosted around 400,000 refugees in early 2017.18 GPE, which allocates about half of its grant funding to support education in countries affected by fragility and conflict, has supported Chad’s efforts to improve a school system that was weak even before large numbers of refugees arrived.

In the Lake Chad region alone, where the refugees are concentrated, 62% of Chad’s children were out of school, the average primary school class size was 75, and the rate of adult illiteracy 96%. With GPE’s support, Chad is not only addressing the immediate humanitarian needs of its refugees but also creating a stronger and more enduring education infrastructure that benefits Chadians and refugees alike.

This support includes building 86 classrooms and essential facilities; food and nutrition; 60,000 new, culturally appropriate school books; and training to expand the pool of teachers qualified to ensure children in school actually learn. The GPE grant will benefit 8,500 children in the Lake Chad region.

Photo Credit: Educate a Child


GPE works at the global level to strengthen political commitment to education, improve its financing, coordinate partners, and broker knowledge and innovation exchange. At the country level GPE’s approach locks together sector planning, financing and mutual accountability across the partnership to strengthen education systems and deliver more equitable and improved learning outcomes.


  • Finance mobilization
  • Advocacy
  • International coordination
  • Knowledge and innovation exchange


  • Better sector planning
  • Results-focused financing
  • improved policy dialogue and mutual accountability

Addressing quality in teaching and learning

Since joining GPE in 2004, Ethiopia has received four grants totaling US$337 million to support the country’s General Education Quality Improvement Program (GEQIP).19 The program is a nationwide reform to improve teaching and learning conditions in 40,000 primary and secondary schools, and boost the education system’s capacity.

Through GPE funding more than 100,000 primary teachers and 17,000 secondary teachers are upgrading their qualifications from a 1-year certificate to a 3-year diploma. From 2006 to 2013, the percentage of qualified in-service teachers increased from 3% to 44% in grades 1–4 and from 53% to 92% in grades 5–8.

GPE funding helped Ethiopia’s government reach its ambitious target of a 1:1 student–textbook ratio by 2013, delivering 146 million textbooks to all primary and secondary school learners in core subjects. The GEQIP program also established quality standards of textbook content, developed 220 new titles, and produced textbooks and teacher guides in seven languages, recognizing that learning outcomes are much improved when instruction is in the mother tongue.

Photo Credit: GPE/Midastouch

Giving all children, including those with disabilities, the education they deserve

GPE is committed to ensuring that governments integrate inclusive education policies for children with disabilities into their national planning.

In Zanzibar, the introduction of inclusive education and awareness-raising activities conducted by the Ministry of Education and civil society have resulted in a positive shift in the attitudes of parents, teachers and the community to disability and issues of inclusiveness.

A GPE grant of US$5.2 million helped to train hundreds of teachers in Zanzibar on guidance and counseling, detection of special needs, classroom skills for inclusion, and handling cases of child marriage and early pregnancies. More than 250,000 learning books for inclusive education have been distributed to schools, and children in need have received glasses and hearing aids.

Zanzibar has revised its policies on disability, and has set up a National Council for People with Disabilities and a Department of Disability Affairs, which is part of the government’s First Vice President’s Office. These entities can empower focal points across different ministries to ensure that the rights and needs of people with disabilities are considered in government plans, strategies and programs.

Photo Credit: UNICEF Burundi


Domestic government budgets are the bedrock of education financing. Global support remains critical for ensuring service delivery in low-income countries. In many lower middle-income countries, this support is valuable as a catalyzer for change. GPE is committed to improving domestic financing and creating incentives for developing country partners to produce financially sustainable education sector plans, increase national budget allocations and improve the quality of their education expenditure. Education ministries welcome GPE’s support in strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of education funding, because this helps in their efforts to increase budgets with their finance ministries, as well as making better use of other external support.

Developing country partners are stepping up their domestic commitments. As the figure shows, between 2002 and 2013 GPE partner developing countries increased expenditure on education as a percentage of total government expenditure from 15.2% in 2002 to 16.6% in 2013. This increase was more than three times the average increase in all low- and middle-income countries.

Furthermore, the increase in expenditure on education as a percentage of the gross domestic product in GPE partner countries where data is available was double the average increase in low- and middle-income countries. This represents a huge amount of additional finance for education and illustrates that GPE drives increased domestic resources into education, supporting better life opportunities for children in developing countries.

In 2015, where data is available, 53% of GPE partner developing countries, including 45% of countries affected by fragility and conflict, spent at least 20% of total government expenditure on education.


Low- and Middle-Income Countries % Public Expenditure 14,00 14,50 15,00 15,50 16,00 16,50 17,00 GPE Partner Developing Countries 2002 2013 2002 2013
Low- and Middle-Income Countries % GDP 2,00 2,50 3,00 3,50 4,00 4,50 GPE Partner Developing Countries 2002 2013 2002 2013


  1. International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, The Learning Generation (New York: Education Commission, 2016), 29.
  2. GPE is not prescriptive. These figures are based on the patterns of expenditure within the existing GPE grant portfolio.
  3. International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, The Learning Generation (New York: Education Commission, 2016), 34.
  4. UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report (Paris: UNESCO, 2011). VISIT LINK.
  5. UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report (Paris: UNESCO, 2016), xvii. VISIT LINK.
  6. UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report (Paris: UNESCO, 2016), 58–59.
  7. International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, The Learning Generation (New York: Education Commission, 2016), 34.
  8. International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, The Learning Generation (New York: Education Commission, 2016), 32.
  9. Rebecca Winthrop, “US Leadership in Global Education: The Time is Now,” (Brookings, Big Ideas for America, updated January 27, 2017) VISIT LINK.
  10. Joanna Wedge, “Where Peace Begins: Education’s Role in Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding” (London, International Save the Children Alliance, updated March 2008) VISIT LINK
  11. UNESCO, Global Education Monitoring Report (Paris: UNESCO, 2016), 103.
  12. Kevin Watkins, No Lost Generation—Holding to the Promise of Education for All Syrian Refugees (London: Theirworld, 2016).
  13. Karen Ann Grépin, “Secondary Education and HIV infection in Botswana,” Lancet Global Health Report 3, no. 8 (2015): VISIT LINK.
  14. Jan-Walter De Neve, “Length of secondary schooling and risk of HIV infection in Botswana: evidence from a natural experiment,” Lancet Global Health Report 3, no. 8 (2015): VISIT LINK.
  15. GPE, “Funding,” VISIT LINK
  16. “At a Glance: Yemen,” UNICEF, accessed February, 2017, VISIT LINK.
  17. UNESCO Institute for Statistics, VISIT LINK.
  18. UNHCR, Chad Factsheet, January 15, 2017, VISIT LINK.
  19. Ethiopia’s General Education Quality Improvement Program is financed from several development partners through a pooled funding mechanism, with the World Bank as the grant agent.
  20. Secretariat estimates based on UNESCO Institute for Statistics (database), Montreal (Retrieved June 2016).

Overcrowded classrooms and broken infrastructure at Janbulo Islamiyya Primary School, Roni, Jigawa State, Nigeria. Classrooms throughout Jigawa State and much of Northern Nigeria require significant investment. But with 11,000 babies born [in the country] every single day, the system’s capacity to deliver quality education and facilities is seriously overburdened.

© GPE/Kelley Lynch