2016 was a big year for education and for GPE

A review of the partnership’s progress and achievements over the past 12 months

A boy in class at Glenview #2 Primary School, Zimbabwe. Credit: GPE/ Carine Durand

The year 2016 saw the momentum that education has garnered around the globe get stronger, and the expectations is that 2017 will “turn up the volume” even more.

Following the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015, GPE adopted SDG 4 on education as its vision, and used it as the building block for its 5-year strategy, GPE 2020.

SDG 4 and GPE 2020 vision:
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

The overarching objective of GPE 2020 is to support developing countries to build stronger education systems. A strong system is efficient, inclusive, relies on data and assessments, and promotes learning for all.

The work of GPE was also recognized in “The Learning Generation”, the report from the Education Commission launched in September 2016, which presents a bold vision of all young people learning within a generation.

The report makes 12 recommendations for action in performance, innovation, inclusion and finance, and suggests that GPE is well placed to channel external funding to countries that need support, as a multilateral, harmonized and coordinated mechanism is best for effectiveness and results.

New donor financing, new partners, new grants

In 2016, the cumulative total of grants allocated by GPE to partner developing countries reached US$4.6 billion. During the year, more than 50 partner countries had active implementation grants.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and four islands from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States received new grants last year totaling US$237 million. That’s not counting many small grants to help partner countries analyze their education sector and prepare or revise their sector strategies and GPE financing.

In 2017, as we launch into replenishing our resources again, we hope that donors from both public and private sectors will step up to the plate and provide adequate financing for education for the countries that need it the most. And that developing countries will also ensure that their budget allocation to education is sufficient.

A stronger partnership

Building a stronger GPE is one of the five objectives of GPE 2020. This means ensuring that all partners are around the same table and contribute their resources to the same goal.

Over the course of 2016, GPE has diversified its tools by adding:

  • a gender equality policy and strategy: When an education system is gender-responsive, it means it is informed by an awareness of the effects of gender norms, roles, and relations as they impact education, and that it takes measures to actively reduce the barriers to gender equality.
  • a monitoring and evaluation strategy: Monitoring and evaluation are central pillars in GPE’s approach to results-based management  and provide useful information about the level of risk in our operations and how we are doing in achieving the goals of GPE 2020.
  • Defined the targets in our results framework: In June, the GPE Board approved the targets for the 37 indicators in the results framework, giving the partnership clear objectives to reach in 2020.

Strengthening the partnership also meant capturing and sharing knowledge among partners, including for examples best practices to support the development of strong education sector plan, even in crisis contexts (see the guidelines to prepare transitional education plans, published with UNESCO’s IIEP).

More textbooks, schools, and trained teachers

Over the course of 2016, thanks to GPE grants, partner countries were able to distribute 30 million textbooks, train 240,000 teachers, and build more than 3,000 classrooms. These resources will allow more children to receive a quality education.

See 2016 results card by country

Support to countries in crisis

The Education Cannot Wait fund was launched at the first World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 to prioritize education in humanitarian action. GPE intentionally focuses resources to countries affected by conflict and fragility, where a large portion of out-of-school children live.

In 2016, we re-allocated a portion of the grant to Haiti to cover the immediate aftermath of hurricane Matthew, which destroyed many schools. The funds help pay for school feeding programs in areas most affected.

In Chad, refugees flocking to the Lake Chad region from neighboring countries or from the country itself benefit from accelerated funding from GPE, transferred through UNICEF, to support education. The grant is building classrooms, latrines, wells, provides school meals, textbooks and school kits.

New global ambassador for GPE

At the 2016 Global Festival in Central Park in New York City, GPE Chair Julia Gillard announced our new global ambassador: Rihanna. Through her foundation, Rihanna is already dedicated to the cause of education, and her role as GPE ambassador will help us ensure that education gets more visibility on a global scale. We are thankful for her support.

To see the highlights of the past year, watch our 2016 year in review video


The Global Partnership for Education Secretariat is headquartered in Washington DC and has approximately 100 staff. The Secretariat provides administrative and operational support to all its partners including...

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